A report of the voyage and successe thereof, attempted in the yeere of our Lord 1583 by sir Humfrey Gilbert knight, with other gentlemen assisting him in that action, intended to discouer and to plant Christian inhabitants in place conuenient, vpon those large and ample countreys extended Northward from the cape of Florida, lying vnder very temperate Climes, esteemed fertile and rich in Minerals, yet not in the actuall possession of any Christian prince, written by M. Edward Haies gentleman, and principall actour in the same voyage, who alone continued vnto the end, and by Gods speciall assistance returned home with his retinue safe and entire.
Many voyages haue bene pretended, yet hitherto neuer any thorowly accomplished by our nation of exact discouery into the bowels of those maine, ample and vast countreys, extended infinitely into the North from 30 degrees, or rather from 25 degrees of Septentrionall latitude, neither hath a right way bene taken of planting a Christian habitation and regiment vpon the same, as well may appeare both by the little we yet do actually possesse therein, and by our ignorance of the riches and secrets within those lands, which vnto this day we know chiefly by the trauell and report of other nations, and most of the French, who albeit they can not challenge such right and interest vnto the sayd countreys as we, neither these many yeeres haue had opportunity nor meanes so great to discouer and to plant (being vexed with the calamnities of intestine warres) as we haue had by the inestimable benefit of our long and happy peace: yet haue they both waies performed more, and had long since attained a sure possession and settled gouernment of many prouinces in those Northerly parts of America, if their many attempts into those forren and remote lands had not bene impeached by their garboils at home.
The coasts from Florida Northward first discouered by the English nation. The first discouery of these coasts (neuer heard of before) was well begun by Iohn Cabot the father, and Sebastian his sonne, an Englishman borne, who were the first finders out of all that great tract of land stretching from the cape of Florida vnto those Islands which we now call the Newfoundland: all which they brought and annexed vnto the crowne of England. Since when, if with like diligence the search of inland countreys had bene followed, as the discouery vpon the coast, and out-parts therof was performed by those two men: no doubt her Maiesties territories and reuenue had bene mightily inlarged and aduanced by this day. And which is more: the seed of Christian religion had bene sowed amongst those pagans, which by this time might haue brought foorth a most plentifull haruest and copious congregation of Christians; which must be the chiefe intent of such as shall make any attempt that way: or els whatsoeuer is builded vpon other foundation shall neuer obtaine happy successe nor continuance.
And although we can not precisely iudge (which onely belongeth to God) what haue bene the humours of men stirred vp to great attempts of discouering and planting in those remote countreys, yet the euents do shew that either Gods cause hath not bene chiefly preferred by them, or els God hath not permitted so abundant grace as the light of his word and knowledge of him to be yet reuealed vnto those infidels before the appointed time.
But most assuredly, the only cause of religion hitherto hath kept backe, and will also bring forward at the time assigned by God, an effectuall and compleat discouery and possession by Christians, both of those ample countreys and the riches within them hitherto concealed: whereof notwithstanding God in his wisdome hath permitted to be reuealed from time to time a certaine obscure and misty knowledge, by little and little to allure the mindes of men that way (which els will be dull enough in the zeale of his cause) and thereby to prepare vs vnto a readinesse for the execution of his will against the due time ordeined, of calling those pagans vnto Christianity.
A fit consideration. In the meane while, it behooueth euery man of great calling, in whom is any instinct of inclination vnto this attempt, to examine his owne motions: which if the same proceed of ambition or auarice, he may assure himselfe it commeth not of God, and therefore can not haue confidence of Gods protection and assistance against the violence (els irresistable) both of sea, and infinite perils vpon the land; whom God yet may vse an instrument to further his cause and glory some way, but not to build vpon so bad a foundation.
Otherwise, if his motiues be deriued from a vertuous and heroycall minde, preferring chiefly the honour of God, compassion of poore infidels captiued by the deuill, tyrannizing in most woonderfull and dreadfull maner ouer their bodies and soules; aduancement of his honest and well disposed countreymen, willing to accompany him in such honourable actions: reliefe of sundry people within this realme distressed: all these be honourable purposes, imitating the nature of the munificent God, wherewith he is well pleased, who will assist such an actour beyond expectation of man. Probable coniectures that these lands North of Florida, are reserued for the English nation to possesse. And the same, who feeleth this inclination in himselfe, by all likelihood may hope, or rather confidently repose in the preordinance of God, that in this last age of the world (or likely neuer) the time is compleat of receiuing also these Gentiles into his mercy, and that God will raise him an instrument to effect the same: it seeming probable by euent or precedent attempts made by the Spanyards and French sundry times, that the countreys lying North of Florida, God hath reserued the same to be reduced vnto Christian ciuility by the English nation. For not long after that Christopher Columbus had discouered the Islands and continent of the West Indies for Spayne, Iohn and Sebastian Cabot made discouery also of the rest from Florida Northwards to the behoofe of England.
The Spanyards prosperous in the Southerne discoueries, yet vnhappy in the Northerne. And whensoeuer afterwards the Spanyards (very prosperous in all their Southerne discoueries) did attempt any thing into Florida and those regions inclining towards the North they proued most vnhappy, and were at length discouraged vtterly by the hard and lamentable successe of many both religous and valiant in armes, endeauouring to bring those Northerly regions also vnder the Spanish iurisdiction; as if God had prescribed limits vnto the Spanish nation which they might not exceed; as by their owne gests recorded may be aptly gathered.
The French are but vsurpers vpon our right. The French, as they can pretend lesse title vnto these Northerne parts then the Spanyard, by how much the Spanyard made the first discouery of the same continent so far Northward as vnto Florida, and the French did but reuiew that before discouered by the English nation, vsurping vpon our right, and imposing names vpon countreys, riuers, bayes, capes, or head lands, as if they had bene the first finders of those coasts: The French also infortunate in those North parts of America. which iniury we offered not vnto the Spaniards, but left off to discouer when we approached the Spanish limits: euen so God hath not hitherto permitted them to establish a possession permanent vpon anothers right, notwithstanding their manifolde attempts, in which the issue hath bene no lesse tragicall then that of the Spanyards, as by their owne reports is extant.
A good incouragement for the English nation, to proceed in the conquests of the North America. Then seeing the English nation onely hath right vnto these countreys of America from the cape of Florida Northward by the priuilege of first discouery, vnto which Cabot was authorised by regall authority, and set forth by the expense of our late famous king Henry the seuenth: which right also seemeth strongly defended on our behalfe by the powerfull hand of almighty God, withstanding the enterprises of other nations: it may greatly incourage vs vpon so iust ground, as is our right, and vpon so sacred an intent, as to plant religion (our right and intent being meet foundations for the same) to prosecute effectually the full possession of those so ample and pleasant countreys apperteining vnto the crowne of England: The due time approcheth by all likelihood of calling these heathens vnto Christianity. the same (as is to be coniectured by infallible arguments of the worlds end approching) being now arriued vnto the time by God prescribed of their vocation, if euer their calling vnto the knowledge of God may be expected. The word of God moueth circularly. Which also is very probable by the reuolution and course of Gods word and religion, which from the beginning hath moued from the East, towards, and at last vnto the West, where it is like to end, vnlesse the same begin againe where it did in the East, which we were to expect a like world againe. But we are assured of the contrary by the prophesie of Christ, whereby we gather, that after his word preached thorowout the world shalbe the end. And as the Gospel when it descended Westward began in the South, and afterward spread into the North of Europe: euen so, as the same hath begunne in the South countreys of America, no lesse hope may be gathered that it will also spread into the North.
These considerations may helpe to suppresse all dreads rising of hard eueuts in attempts made this way by other nations, as also of the heauy successe and issue in the late enterprise made by a worthy gentleman our countryman sir Humfrey Gilbert knight, who was the first of our nation that caried people to erect an habitation and gouernment in those Northerly countreys of America. About which, albeit he had consumed much substance, and lost his life at last, his people also perishing for the most part: yet the mystery thereof we must leaue vnto God, and iudge charitably both of the cause (which was iust in all pretence) and of the person, who was very zealous in prosecuting the same, deseruing honourable remembrance for his good minde, and expense of life in so vertuous an enterprise. Whereby neuerthelesse, least any man should be dismayd by example of other folks calamity, and misdeeme that God doth resist all attempts intended that way: I thought good, so farre as my selfe was an eye witnesse, to deliuer the circumstance and maner of our proceedings in that action: in which the gentleman was so incumbred with wants, and woorse matched with many ill disposed people, that his rare iudgement and regiment premeditated for these affaires, was subiected to tolerate abuses, and in sundry extremities to holde on a course, more to vpholde credite, then likely in his owne conceit happily to succeed.
The planting of Gods word must be handled with reuerence. The issue of such actions, being alwayes miserable, not guided by God, who abhorreth confusion and disorder, hath left this for admonition (being the first attempt by our nation to plant) vnto such as shall take the same cause in hand hereafter not to be discouraged from it: but to make men well aduised how they handle his so high and excellent matters, as the carriage of his word into those very mighty and vast countreys. Ill actions coloured by pretence of planting vpon remote lands. An action doubtlesse not to be intermedled with base purposes; as many haue made the same but a colour to shadow actions otherwise scarse iustifiable: which doth excite Gods heauy iudgements in the end, to the terrifying of weake mindes from the cause, without pondering his iust proceedings: and doth also incense forren princes against our attempts how iust soeuer, who can not but deeme the sequele very dangerous vnto their state (if in those parts we should grow to strength) seeing the very beginnings are entred with spoile.
And with this admonition denounced vpon zeale towards Gods cause, also towards those in whom appeareth disposition honourable vnto this action of planting Christian people and religion in those remote and barbarous nations of America (vnto whom I wish all happinesse) I will now proceed to make relation briefly, yet particularly, of our voyage vndertaken with sir Humfrey Gilbert, begun, continued, and ended aduersly.
The first and great preparation of sir Humfrey Gilbert. When first sir Humfrey Gilbert vndertooke the Westerne discouery of America, and had procured from her Maiesty a very large commission to inhabit and possesse at his choice all remote and heathen lands not in the actuall possession of any Christian prince, the same commission exemplified with many priuileges, such as in his discretion he might demand, very many gentlemen of good estimation drew vnto him, to associate him in so commendable an enterprise, so that the preparation was expected to grow vnto a puissant fleet, able to encounter a kings power by sea: neuerthelesse, amongst a multitude of voluntary men, their dispositions were diuers, which bred a iarre, and made a diuision in the end, to the confusion of that attempt euen before the same was begun. And when the shipping was in a maner prepared, and men ready vpon the coast to go aboord: at that time some brake consort, and followed courses degenerating from the voyage before pretended: Others failed of their promises contracted, and the greater number were dispersed, leauing the Generall with few of his assured friends, with whom he aduentured to sea: where hauing tasted of no lesse misfortune, he was shortly driuen to retire home with the losse of a tall ship, and (more to his griefe) of a valiant gentleman Miles Morgan.98
A constant resolution of sir Humfrey Gilbert. Hauing buried onely in a preparation a great masse of substance, wherby his estate was impaired, his minde yet not dismaid he continued his former designment and purpose to reuiue this enterprise, good occasion seruing. Vpon which determination standing long, without meanes to satisfy his desire; at last he granted certaine assignments out of his commission to sundry persons of meane ability, desiring the priuilege of his rank, to plant and fortifie in the North parts of America about the riuer of Canada, to whom if God gaue good successe in the North parts (where then no matter of moment was expected) the same (he thought) would greatly aduance the hope of the South, and be a furtherance vnto his determination that way. And the worst that might happen in that course might be excused without prejudice vnto him by the former supposition, that those North regions were of no regard: but chiefly a possession taken in any parcell of those heathen countreys, by vertue of his grant, did inuest him of territories extending euery way two hundred leagues: which induced sir Humfry Gilbert to make those assignments, desiring greatly their expedition, because his commission did expire after six yeres, if in that space he had not gotten actuall possession.
A second preparation of sir Humfrey Gilbert. Time went away without any thing done by his assignes: insomuch that at last he must resolue himselfe to take a voyage in person, for more assurance to keepe his patent in force, which then almost was expired, or within two yeres.
In furtherance of his determination, amongst others, sir George Peckam knight shewed himselfe very zealous to the action, greatly aiding him both by his aduice and in the charge. Other gentlemen to their ability ioyned vnto him, resoluing to aduenture their substance and liues in the same cause. Who beginning their preparation from that time, both of shipping, munition, victual, men, and things requisit, some of them continued the charge two yeeres compleat without intermission. Such were the difficulties and crosse accidents opposing these proceedings, which tooke not end in lesse then two yeres: many of which circumstances I will omit.
The last place of our assembly, before we left the coast of England, was in Causet bay neere vnto Plimmouth: then resolued to put vnto the sea with shipping and prouision, such as we had, before our store yet remaining, but chiefly the time and season of the yeere, were too farre spent. Neuerthelesse it seemed first very doubtfull by what way to shape our course, and to begin our intended discouery, either from the South Northward, or from the North Southward.
Consultation about our course. The first, that is, beginning South, without all controuersie was the likeliest, wherein we were assured to haue commodity of the current, which from the cape of Florida setteth Northward, and would haue furthered greatly our nauigation, discouering from the foresayd cape along towards cape Briton, and all those lands lying to the North.
Commodities in discouering from South Northward. Also the yere being farre spent, and arriued to the moneth of Iune, we were not to spend time in Northerly courses, where we should be surprised with timely Winter, but to couet the South, which we had space enough then to haue attained: and there might with lesse detriment haue wintred that season, being more milde and short in the South then in the North where winter is both long and rigorous.
These and other like reasons alleged in fauour of the Southerne course first to be taken, to the contrary was inferred: that foras much as both our victuals, and many other needfull prouisions were diminished and left insufficient for so long a voyage, and for the wintering of so many men, we ought to shape a course most likely to minister supply; and that was to take the Newfoundland in our way, which was but seuen hundred leagues from our English coast. Where being vsually at that time of the yere, and vntill the fiue of August, a multitude of ships repairing thither for fish, we should be relieued abundantly with many necessaries, which after the fishing ended, they might well spare, and freely impart vnto vs.
Not staying long vpon that Newland coast, we might proceed Southward, and follow still the Sunne, vntill we arriued at places more temperate to our content.
By which reasons we were the rather induced to follow this Cause why we began our discouery from the North. Northerly course, obeying vnto necessity, which must be supplied. Incommodities in beginning North. Otherwise, we doubted that sudden approch of Winter, bringing with it continuall fogge, and thicke mists, tempest and rage of weather; also contrariety of currents descending from the cape of Florida vnto cape Briton and cape Rase, would fall out to be great and irresistable impediments vnto our further proceeding for that yeere, and compell vs to Winter in those North and colde regions.
Wherefore suppressing all obiections to the contrary, we resolued to begin our course Northward, and to follow directly as we might, the trade way vnto Newfoundland: from whence after our refreshing and reparation of wants, we intended without delay (by Gods permission) to proceed into the South, not omitting any riuer or bay which in all that large tract of land appeared to our view worthy of search. Immediatly we agreed vpon the maner of our course and orders to be obserued in our voyage; which were deliuered in writing vnto the captaines and masters of euery ship a copy in maner following.
Euery shippe had deliuered two bullets or scrowles, the one sealed vp in waxe, the other left open: in both which were included seuerall watch-words. That open, seruing vpon our owne coast or the coast of Ireland: the other sealed was promised on all hands not to be broken vp vntill we should be cleere of the Irish coast; which from thencefoorth did serue vntill we arriued and met altogether in such harbors of the Newfoundland as were agreed for our Rendez vouz. The sayd watch-words being requisite to know our consorts whensoeuer by night, either by fortune of weather, our fleet dispersed should come together againe: or one should hale another; or if by ill watch and steerage one ship should chance to fall aboord of another in the darke.
The reason of the bullet sealed was to keepe secret that watch-word while we were vpon our owne coast, lest any of the company stealing from the fleet might bewray the same: which knowen to an enemy, he might boord vs by night without mistrust, hauing our owne watch-word.
Orders agreed vpon by the Captaines and Masters to be obserued by the fleet of Sir Humfrey Gilbert.
First the Admirall to cary his flag by day, and his light by night.
2 Item, if the Admirall shall shorten his saile by night, then to shew two lights vntill he be answered againe by euery ship shewing one light for a short time.
3 Item, if the Admirall after his shortening of saile, as aforesayd, shall make more saile againe: then he to shew three lights one aboue another.
4 Item, if the Admirall shall happen to hull in the night, then to make a wauering light ouer his other light, wauering the light vpon a pole.
5 Item, if the fleet should happen to be scattered by weather, or other mishap, then so soone as one shall descry another to hoise sailes twise, if the weather will serue, and to strike them twise againe; but if the weather serue not, then to hoise the maine top saile twise, and forthwith to strike it twise againe.
6 Item, if it shall happen a great fogge to fall, then presently euery shippe to beare vp with the admirall, if there be winde: but if it be a calme, then euery ship to hull, and so to lie at hull till it be cleere. And if the fogge do continue long, then the Admirall to shoot off two pieces euery euening, and euery ship to answere it with one shot: and euery man bearing to the ship, that is to leeward so neere as he may.
7 Item, euery master to giue charge vnto the watch to looke out well, for laying aboord one of another in the night, and in fogges.
8 Item, euery euening euery ship to haile the admirall, and so to fall asterne him sailing thorow the Ocean: and being on the coast, euery ship to haile him both morning and euening.
9 Item, if any ship be in danger any way, by leake or otherwise, then she to shoot off a piece, and presently to hang out one light, whereupon euery man to beare towards her, answering her with one light for a short time, and so to put it out againe; thereby to giue knowledge that they haue seene her token.
10 Item, whensoeuer the Admirall shall hang out her ensigne in the maine shrowds, then euery man to come aboord her, as a token of counsell.
11 Item, if there happen any storme or contrary winde to the fleet after the discouery, whereby they are separated: then euery ship to repaire vnto their last good port, there to meete againe.
Our course agreed vpon.
The course first to be taken for the discouery is to beare directly to Cape Rase, the most Southerly cape of Newfound land; and there to harbour ourselues either in Rogneux or Fermous, being the first places appointed for our Rendez vous, and the next harbours vnto the Northward of cape Rase: and therefore euery ship separated from the fleete to repaire to that place so fast as God shall permit, whether you shall fall to the Southward or to the Northward of it, and there to stay for the meeting of the whole fleet the space of ten dayes: and when you shall depart, to leaue marks.
A direction of our course vnto the Newfound land.
Beginning our course from Silley, the neerest is by Westsouthwest (if the winde serue) vntill such time as we haue brought our selues in the latitude of 43 or 44 degrees, because the Ocean is subiect much to Southerly windes in Iune and Iuly. Then to take trauerse from 45 to 47 degrees of latitude, if we be inforced by contrary windes: and not to go to the Northward of the height of 47 degrees of Septentrionall latitude by no meanes; if God shall not inforce the contrary; but to do your indeuour to keepe in the height of 46 degrees, so nere as you can possibly, because cape Rase lieth about that height.
If by contrary windes we be driuen backe vpon the coast of England, then to repaire vnto Silley for a place of our assembly or meeting.
If we be driuen backe by contrary winds that we can not passe the coast of Ireland, then the place of our assembly to be at Beare hauen or Baltimore hauen.
If we shall not happen to meete at cape Rase, then the place of Rendez vous to be at cape Briton, or the neerest harbour vnto the Westward of cape Briton.
If by meanes of other shipping we may not safely stay there, then to rest at the very next safe port to the Westward; euery ship leauing their marks behinde them for the more certainty of the after commers to know where to finde them.
The marks that euery man ought to leaue in such a case, were of the Generals priuate deuice written by himselfe, sealed also in close waxe, and deliuered vnto euery shippe one scroule, which was not to be opened vntill occasion required, whereby euery man was certified what to leaue for instruction of after commers: that euery of vs comming into any harbour or riuer might know who had bene there, or whether any were still there vp higher into the riuer, or departed, and which way.
Beginning of the voyage. Orders thus determined, and promises mutually giuen to be obserued, euery man withdrew himselfe vnto his charge, the ankers being already weyed, and our shippes vnder saile, hauing a soft gale of winde, we began our voyage vpon Tuesday the eleuenth day of Iune, in the yere of our Lord 1585, hauing in our fleet (at our departure from Causet99 Bay) these shippes, whose names and burthens, with the names of the captaines and masters of them, I haue also inserted, as followeth:
1 The Delight aliàs The George, of burthen 120 tunnes, was Admirall: in which went the Generall, and William Winter captaine in her and part owner, and Richard Clearke master.
2 The Barke Raleigh set forth by M. Walter Raleigh, of the burthen of 200 tunnes, was then Vice-admirall: in which went M. Butler captaine, and Robert Dauis of Bristoll master.
3 The Golden hinde, of burthen 40 tunnes, was then Reare-admirall: in which went Edward Hayes captaine and owner, and William Cox of Limehouse master.
4 The Swallow, of burthen 40 tunnes: in her was captaine Maurice Browne.
5 The Squirrill, of burthen 10 tunnes: in which went captaine William Andrewes, and one Cade master.
Our fleet consisted of fiue sailes, in which we had about 260 men. Prouisions fit for such discoueries. We were in number in all about 260 men: among whom we had of euery faculty good choice, as Shipwrights, Masons, Carpenters, Smithes, and such like, requisite to such an action: also Minerall men and Refiners. Besides, for solace of our people, and allurement of the Sauages, we were prouided of Musike in good variety: not omitting the least toyes, as Morris dancers, Hobby horsse, and Maylike conceits to delight the Sauage people, whom we intended to winne by all faire meanes possible. And to that end we were indifferently furnished of all petty haberdasherie wares to barter with those people.
In this maner we set forward, departing (as hath bene said) out of Causon bay the eleuenth day of Iune being Tuesday, the weather and winde faire and good all day, but a great storme of thunder and winde fell the same night.
Obserue. Thursday following, when we hailed one another in the euening according (to the order before specified) they signified vnto vs out of the Vizadmirall that both the Captaine, and very many of the men were fallen sicke, And about midnight the Vizeadmirall forsooke vs, notwithstanding we had the winde East, faire and good. But it was after credibly reported, that they were infected with a contagious sicknesse, and arriued greatly distressed at Plimmoth: the reason I could neuer vnderstand. Sure I am, no cost was spared by their owner Master Raleigh in setting them forth: Therfore I leaue it vnto God.
By this time we were in 48 degrees of latitude, not a little grieued with the losse of the most puissant ship in our fleete: after whose departure, the Golden Hind succeeded in the place of Vizadmirall, and remooued her flagge from the mizon vnto the foretop.
From Saturday the 15 of Iune vntill the 28, which was vpon a Friday, we neuer had faire day without fogge or raine, and windes bad, much to the West northwest, whereby we were driuen Southward vnto 41 degrees scarse.
About this time of the yere the winds are commonly West towards the Newfound land, keeping ordinarily within two points of West to the South or to the North, whereby the course thither falleth out to be long and tedious after Iune, which in March, Apriell and May, hath bene performed out of England in 22 dayes and lesse. We had winde alwayes so scant from West northwest, and from West southwest againe, that our trauerse was great, running South vnto 41 degrees almost, and afterward North into 51 degrees.
Great fogges vpon the Ocean sea Northward. Also we were incombred with much fogge and mists in maner palpable, in which we could not keepe so well together, but were disseuered, losing the company of the Swallow and the Squirrill vpon the 20. day of Iuly, whom we met againe at seuerall places vpon the Newfound land coast the third of August, as shalbe declared in place conuenient.
Saturday the 27 of Iuly, we might descry not farre from vs, as it were mountaines of yce driuen vpon the sea, being then in 50 degrees, which were caried Southward to the weather of vs: whereby may be coniectured that some current doth set that way from the North.
Before we come to Newfound land about 50 leagues on this side, we passe the banke, The banke in length vnknowen, stretcheth from North into South, in bredth 10. leagues, in depth of water vpon it 30. fadome. which are high grounds rising within the sea and vnder water, yet deepe enough and without danger, being commonly not lesse then 25 and 30 fadome water vpon them: the same (as it were some vaine of mountaines within the sea) doe runne along, and from the Newfound land, beginning Northward about 52 or 53 degrees of latitude, and do extend into the South infinitly. The bredth of this banke is somewhere more, and somewhere lesse: but we found the same about 10 leagues ouer, hauing sounded both on this side thereof, and the other toward Newfound land, but found no ground with almost 200 fadome of line, both before and after we had passed the banke.100 A great fishing vpon the banke. The Portugals, and French chiefly, haue a notable trade of fishing vpon this banke, where are sometimes an hundred or more sailes of ships: who commonly beginne the fishing in Apriell, and haue ended by Iuly. That fish is large, alwayes wet, hauing no land neere to drie, and is called Corre fish.
Abundance of foules. During the time of fishing, a man shall know without sounding when he is vpon the banke, by the incredible multitude of sea foule houering ouer the same, to prey vpon the offalles and garbish of fish throwen out by fishermen, and floting vpon the sea.
First sight of land. Vpon Tuesday the 11 of Iune, we forsooke the coast of England. So againe Tuesday the 30 of Iuly (seuen weekes after) we got sight of land, being immediatly embayed in the Grand bay, or some other great bay: the certainty whereof we could not iudge, so great hase and fogge did hang vpon the coast, as neither we might discerne the land well, nor take the sunnes height. But by our best computation we were then in the 51 degrees of latitude.
Forsaking this bay and vncomfortable coast (nothing appearing vnto vs but hideous rockes and mountaines, bare of trees, and voide of any greene herbe) we followed the coast to the South, with weather faire and cleare.
Iland and a foule named Penguin. We had sight of an Iland named Penguin, of a foule there breeding in abundance, almost incredible, which cannot flie, their wings not able to carry their body, being very large (not much lesse then a goose) and exceeding fat: which the French men vse to take without difficulty vpon that Iland, and to barrell them vp with salt. But for lingering of time we had made vs there the like prouision.
An Iland called Baccaloas, of the fish taken there. Trending this coast, we came to the Iland called Baccalaos, being not past two leagues from the maine: to the South thereof lieth Cape S. Francis, 5. leagues distant from Baccalaos, between which goeth in a great bay by the vulgar sort called the bay of Conception. Here we met with the Swallow againe, whom we had lost in the fogge, and all her men altered into other apparell: whereof it seemed their store was so amended, that for ioy and congratulation of our meeting, they spared not to cast vp into the aire and ouerboord, their caps and hats in good plenty. The Captaine albeit himselfe was very honest and religious, yet was he not appointed of men to his humor and desert: who for the most part were such as had bene by vs surprised vpon the narrow seas of England, being pirats and had taken at that instant certaine Frenchmen laden, one barke with wines, and another with salt. Both which we rescued, and tooke the man of warre with all her men, which was the same ship now called the Swallow, following still their kind so oft, as (being separated from the Generall) they found opportunitie to robbe and spoile. And because Gods iustice did follow the same company, euen to destruction, and to the ouerthrow also of the Captaine (though not consenting to their misdemeanor) I will not conceale any thing that maketh to the manifestation and approbation of his iudgements, for examples of others, perswaded that God more sharpely tooke reuenge vpon them, and hath tolerated longer as great outrage in others: by how much these went vnder protection of his cause and religion, which was then pretended.
Misdemeanor of them in the Swallow. Therefore vpon further enquiry it was knowen, how this company met with a barke returning home after the fishing with his fraight: and because the men in the Swallow were very neere scanted of victuall, and chiefly of apparell, doubtful withall where or when to find and meete with their Admiral, they besought the captaine they might go aboord this Newlander, only to borrow what might be spared, the rather because the same was bound homeward. Leaue giuen, not without charge to deale fauourably, they came aboord the fisherman, whom they rifled of tackle, sailes, cables, victuals, and the men of their apparell: not sparing by torture (winding cords about their heads) to draw out else what they thought good. This done with expedition (like men skilfull in such mischiefe) as they tooke their cocke boate to go aboord their own ship, it was ouerwhelmed in the sea, and certaine of these men were drowned: the rest were preserued euen by those silly soules whom they had before spoyled, who saued and deliuered them aboord the Swallow. What became afterward of the poore Newlander, perhaps destitute of sayles and furniture sufficient to carry them home (whither they had not lesse to runne then 700 leagues) God alone knoweth, who tooke vengeance not long after of the rest that escaped at this instant: to reueale the fact, and iustifie to the world Gods iudgements inflicted vpon them, as shal be declared in place conuenient.
Thus after we had met with the Swallow, we held on our course Southward, vntill we came against the harbor called S. Iohn, about 5 leagues from the former Cape of S. Francis: where before the entrance into the harbor, we found also the Frigate or Squirrill lying at anker. Whom the English marchants (that were and alwaies be Admirals English ships are the strongest and Admirals of other fleetes, fishing vpon the South parts of Newfound land. by turnes interchangeably ouer the fleetes of fisherman within the same harbor) would not permit to enter into the harbor. Glad of so happy meeting both of the Swallow and Frigate in one day (being Saturday the 3. of August) we made readie our fights, and prepared to enter the harbor, any resistance to the contrarie notwithstanding, there being within of all nations, to the number of 36 sailes. But first the Generall dispatched a boat to giue them knowledge of his comming for no ill intent, hauing Commission from her Maiestie for his voiage he had in hand. And immediatly we followed with a slacke gale, and in the very entrance (which is but narrow, not aboue 2 buts length) the Admirall fell vpon a rocke on the larboard side by great ouersight, in that the weather was faire, the rocke much aboue water fast by the shore, where neither went any sea gate. But we found such readinesse in the English Marchants to helpe vs in that danger, that without delay there were brought a number of boates, which towed off the ship, and cleared her of danger.
Hauing taken place conuenient in the road, we let fall ankers, the Captaines and Masters repairing aboord our Admirall: whither also came immediatly the Masters and owners of the fishing fleete of Englishmen to vnderstand the Generals intent and cause of our arriuall there. They were all satisfied when the General had shewed his commission, and purpose to take possession of those lands to the behalfe of the crowne of England, and the aduancement of Christian religion in those Paganish regions, requiring but their lawfull ayde for repayring of his fleete, and supply of some necessaries, so farre as might conueniently be afforded him, both out of that and other harbors adioyning. In lieu whereof, he made offer to gratifie them, with any fauour and priueledge, which vpon their better aduise they should demand, the like being not to be obteyned hereafter for greater price. So crauing expedition of his demand, minding to proceede further South without long detention in those partes, he dismissed them, after promise giuen of their best indeuour to satisfie speedily his so reasonable request. The marchants with their Masters departed, they caused forthwith to be discharged all the great Ordinance of their fleete in token of our welcome.
Good order taken by English marchants for our supply in Newfound land. It was further determined that euery ship of our fleete should deliuer vnto the marchants and Masters of that harbour a note of all their wants: which done, the ships aswell English as strangers, were taxed at an easie rate to make supply. And besides, Commissioners were appointed, part of our owne companie and part of theirs, to go into other harbours adioyning (for our English marchants command all there) to leauie our prouision: whereunto the Portugals (aboue other nations) did most willingly and liberally contribute. Insomuch as we were presented (aboue our allowance) with wines, marmalads, most fine ruske or bisket, sweet oyles and sundry delicacies. Also we wanted not of fresh salmons, trouts, lobsters and other fresh fish brought daily vnto vs. Moreouer as the maner is in their fishing, euery weeke to choose their Admirall a new, or rather they succeede in orderly course, and haue weekely their Admirals feast solemnized: Good entertainment in Newfound land. euen so the General, Captaines and masters of our fleete were continually inuited and feasted. No Sauages in the South part of Newfound land. To grow short, in our abundance at home, the intertainment had bene delightfull, but after our wants and tedious passage through the Ocean, it seemed more acceptable and of greater contentation, by how much the same was vnexpected in that desolate corner of the world: where at other times of the yeare, wilde beasts and birds haue only the fruition of all those countries, which now seemed a place very populous and much frequented.
The next morning being Sunday and the 4 of August, the Generall and his company were brought on land by English marchants, who shewed vnto vs their accustomed walks vnto a place they call the Garden. But nothing appeared more then Nature it selfe without art: who confusedly hath brought forth roses abundantly, wilde, but odoriferous, and to sense very comfortable. Also the like plentie of raspis berries, which doe grow in euery place.
Possession taken. Monday following, the Generall had his tent set vp, who being accompanied with his own followers, summoned the marchants and masters, both English and strangers to be present at his taking possession of those Countries. Before whom openly was read and interpreted vnto the strangers his Commission: by vertue whereof he tooke possession in the same harbour of S. Iohn, and 200 leagues euery way, inuested the Queenes Maiestie with the title and dignitie thereof, had deliuered vnto him (after the custome of England) a rod and a turffe of the same soile, entring possession also for him, his heires and assignes for euer: And signified vnto al men, that from that time forward, they should take the same land as a territorie appertaining to the Queene of England, and himselfe authorised vuder her Maiestie to possesse and enioy it, And to ordaine lawes for the gouernement thereof, agreeable (so neere as conueniently might be) vnto the lawes of England: vnder which all people coming thither hereafter, either to inhabite, or by way of traffique, should be subiected and gouerned. Three Lawes. And especially at the same time for a beginning, he proposed and deliuered three lawes to be in force immediatly. That is to say: the first for Religion, which in publique exercise should be according to the Church of England. The 2. for maintenance of her Maiesties right and possession of those territories, against which if any thing were attempted preiudiciall the partie or parties offending should be adiudged and executed as in case of high treason, according to the lawes of England. The 3. if any person should vtter words sounding to the dishonour of her Maiestie, he should loose his eares, and haue his ship and goods confiscate.
These contents published, obedience was promised by generall voyce and consent of the multitude aswell of Englishmen as strangers, praying for continuance of this possession and gouernement begun. After this, the assembly was dismissed. And afterward were erected not farre from that place the Armes of England ingrauen in lead, and infixed vpon a pillar of wood. Actuall possession maintained in Newfound land. Yet further and actually to establish this possession taken in the right of her Maiestie, and to the behoofe of Sir Humfrey Gilbert knight, his heires and assignes for euer: the Generall granted in fee farme diuers parcels of land lying by the water side, both in this harbor of S. Iohn, and elsewhere, which was to the owners a great commoditie, being thereby assured (by their proper inheritance) of grounds conuenient to dresse and to drie their fish, whereof many times before they did faile, being preuented by them that came first into the harbor. For which grounds they did couenant to pay a certaine rent and seruice vnto sir Humfrey Gilbert, his heires or assignes for euer, and yeerely to maintaine possession of the same, by themselues or their assignes.
Now remained only to take in prouision granted, according as euery shippe was taxed, which did fish vpon the coast adioyning. Men appointed to make search. In the meane while, the Generall appointed men vnto their charge: some to repaire and trim the ships, others to attend in gathering togither our supply and prouisions: others to search the commodities and singularities of the countrey, to be found by sea or land, and to make relation vnto the Generall what eyther themselues could knowe by their owne trauaile and experience, or by good intelligence of English men or strangers, who had longest frequented the same coast. Also some obserued the eleuation of the pole, and drewe plats of the country exactly graded. And by that I could gather by each mans seuerall relation, I haue drawen a briefe description of the Newfoundland, with the commodities by sea or lande alreadie made, and such also as are in possibilitie and great likelihood to be made: Neuerthelesse the Cardes and plats that were drawing, with the due gradation of the harbors, bayes, and capes, did perish with the Admirall: wherefore in the description following, I must omit the particulars of such things.
New found land is al Islands or broken lands. That which we doe call the Newfound land, and the Frenchmen Bacalaos, is an Iland, or rather (after the opinion of some) it consisteth of sundry Ilands and broken lands, situate in the North regions of America, vpon the gulfe and entrance of the great riuer called S. Laurence in Canada. Into the which, nauigation may be made both on the South and North side of this Iland. The land lyeth South and North, containing in length betweene three and 400 miles, accounting from cape Race (which is 46 degrees 25 minuts) vnto the Grand bay in 52 degrees of Septentrionall latitude. Goodly roads and harbours. The Iland round about hath very many goodly bayes and harbors, safe roads for ships, the like not to be found in any part of the knowen world.
New found land is inhabitable. The common opinion that is had of intemperature and extreme cold that should be in this countrey, as of some part it may be verified, namely the North, where I grant it is more colde then in countries of Europe, which are vnder the same eleuation: euen so it cannot stand with reason and nature of the clime, that the South parts should be so intemperate as the brute hath gone. For as the same doe lie vnder the climats of Briton, Aniou, Poictou in France, betweene 46 and 49 degrees, so can they not so much differ from the temperature of those countries: vnlesse vpon the outcast lying open vnto the Ocean and sharper windes, it must in deede be subiect to more colde, then further within the land, where the mountaines are interposed, as walles and bulwarkes, to defend and to resist the asperitie and rigor of the sea weather. Some hold opinion, that the Newfound land might be the more subiect to cold, by how much it lyeth high and neere vnto the middle region. I grant that not in Newfound land alone, but in Germany Italy and Afrike, euen vnder the Equinoctiall line, the mountaines are extreme cold, and seldome vncouered of snow, in their culme and highest tops, which commeth to passe by the same reason that they are extended towards the middle region: yet in the countries lying beneth them, it is found quite contrary. Cold by accidentall meanes. Euen so all hils hauing their discents, the valleis also and low grounds must be likewise hot or temperate, as the clime doeth giue in Newfound land: though I am of opinion that the Sunnes reflection is much cooled, and cannot be so forcible in the Newfound land, nor generally throughout America, as in Europe or Afrike: by how much the Sunne in his diurnal course from East to West passeth ouer (for the most part) dry land and sandy countries, before he arriueth at the West of Europe or Afrike, whereby his motion increaseth heate, with little or no qualification by moyst vapours. Where, on the contrary he passeth from Europe and Afrike vnto America ouer the Ocean, from whence it draweth and carieth with him abundance of moyst vapours, which doe qualifie and infeeble greatly the Sunnes reuerberation vpon this countrey chiefly of Newfound land, being so much to the Northward. Neuerthelesse (as I sayd before) the cold cannot be so intollerable vnder the latitude of 46 47 and 48 (especiall within land) that it should be vnhabitable, as some do suppose, seeing also there are very many people more to the North by a great deale. And in these South parts there be certaine beastes, Ounces or Leopards, and birdes in like maner which in the Sommer we haue seene, not heard of in countries of extreme and vehement coldnesse. Besides, as in the monethes of Iune, Iuly, August and September, the heate is somewhat more then in England at those seasons: so men remaining vpon the South parts neere vnto Cape Race, vntill after Hollandtide, haue not found the cold so extreme, nor much differing from the temperature of England. Those which haue arriued there after November and December, haue found the snow exceeding deepe, whereat no maruaile, considering the ground vpon the coast, is rough and uneuen, and the snow is driuen into the places most declyning as the like is to be seene with vs. The like depth of snow happily shall not be found within land vpon the playner countries, which also are defended by the mountaines, breaking off the violence of winds and weather. But admitting extraordinary cold in those South parts, aboue that with vs here: it can not be as great as in Sweedland, much lesse in Moscouia or Russia: Commodities. yet are the same countries very populous, and the rigor and cold is dispensed with by the commoditie of Stoues, warme clothing, meats and drinkes: all which neede not be wanting in the Newfound land, if we had intent there to inhabite.101
In the South parts we found no inhabitants, which by all likelihood haue abandoned those coastes, the same being so much frequented by Christians: But in the North are sauages altogether harmelesse. Touching the commodities of this countrie, seruing either for sustentation of inhabitants, or for maintenance of traffique, there are and may be made diuers: so that it seemeth Nature hath recompenced that only defect and incommodities of some sharpe cold, by many benefits: Fish of sea and fresh water. viz. With incredible quantitie, and no lesse varietie of kindes of fish in the sea and fresh waters, as Trouts, Salmons, and other fish to vs vnknowen: Also Cod, which alone draweth many nations thither, and is become the most famous fishing of the world. Abundance of Whales, for which also is a very great trade in the bayes of Placentia and the Grand bay, where is made Traine oiles of the Whale: Herring the largest that haue bene heard of, and exceeding the Malstrond102 herring of Norway: but hitherto was neuer benefit taken of the herring fishing: There are sundry other fish very delicate, namely the Bonito, Lobsters, Turbut, with others infinite not sought after: Oysters hauing peare but not orient in colour: I tooke it by reason they were not gathered in season.
Concerning the inland commodities, aswel to be drawen from this land, as from the exceeding large countries adioyning: there is nothing which our East and Northerly countries of Europe doe yeelde, but the like also may be made in them as plentifully by time and Industrie: Namely rosen, pitch, tarre, sopeashes, dealboord, mastes for ships, hides, furres, flaxe, hempe, corne, cordage, linnen-cloth, mettals and many more. All which the countries will aford, and the soyle is apt to yeelde.
The trees for the most in those South parts are Firre trees Pine and Cypresse, all yeelding Gumme and Turpentine.
Cherrie trees bearing fruit no bigger than a small pease. Also peare trees but fruitlesse. Other trees of some sorts to vs vnknowen.
The soyle along the coast is not deepe of earth, bringing forth abundantly peason small, yet good feeding for cattell. Roses passing sweet, like vnto our muske roses in forme, raspases, a berry which we call Hurts, good and holesome to eat. The grasse and herbe doth fat sheepe in very short space, proued by English marchants which haue caried sheepe thither for fresh victuall and had them raised exceeding fat in lesse then three weekes. Peason which our countreymen haue sowen in the time of May, haue come vp faire, and bene gathered in the beginning of August, of which our Generall had a present acceptable for the rarenesse, being the first fruits comming vp by art and industrie in that desolate and dishabited land.
Lakes or pooles of fresh water, both on the tops of mountaines and in the valies. In which are said to be muskles not vnlike to haue pearle, which I had put in triall, if by mischance falling vnto me, I had not bene letted from that and other good experiments I was minded to make.
Foule both of water and land in great plentie and diuersitie. All kind of greene foule: Others as bigge as Bustards, yet not the same. A great white foule called by some a Gaunt.
Vpon the land diuers sorts of haukes as Faulcons, and others by report: Partridges most plentifull larger than ours, gray and white of colour, and rough footed like doues, which our men after one flight did kill with cudgels, they were so fat and vnable to flie. Birds some like blackbirds, linnets, Canary birds, and other very small. Beasts of sundry kindes, red deare, buffles or a beast, as it seemeth by the tract and foote very large in maner of an oxe. Beares, ounces or leopards, some greater and some lesser, wolues, Foxes, which to the Northward a little further are black, whose furre is esteemed in some Countries of Europe very rich. Otters, beuers, and marternes: And in the opinion of most men that saw it, the Generall had brought vnto him a Sable aliue, which he sent vnto his brother sir John Gilbert knight of Deuonshire: but it was neuer deliuered, as after I vnderstood. Newfound land doth minister commodities abundantly for art and industrie. We could not obserue the hundreth part of creatures in those vnhabited lands: but these mentioned may induce vs to glorifie the magnificent God, who hath superabundantly replenished the earth with creatures seruing for the vse of man, though man hath not vsed a fifth part of the same, which the more doth aggrauate the fault and foolish slouth in many of our nation, chusing rather to liue indirectly, and very miserably to liue and die within this realme pestered with inhabitants, then to aduenture as becommeth men, to obtaine an habitation in those remote lands, in which Nature very prodigally doth minister vnto mens endeuours, and for art to worke vpon.
For besides these alreadie recounted and infinite moe, the mountaines generally make shew of minerall substance: Iron very common, lead, and somewhere copper. I will not auerre of richer mettals: albeit by the circumstances following, more then hope may be conceiued thereof.
For amongst other charges giuen to inquire but the singularities of this countrey, the Generall was most curious in the search of mettals, commanding the minerall man and refiner, especially to be diligent. The same was a Saxon borne, honest and religious, named Daniel. Who after search brought at first some sort of Ore, seeming rather to be yron then other mettal. Siluer Ore brought vnto the Generall. The next time he found Ore, which with no small shew of contentment he deliuered vnto the General, vsing prostestation, that if siluer were the thing which might satisfie the Generall and his followers, there it was, aduising him to seeke no further: the perill whereof he vndertooke vpon his life (as deare vnto him as the Crowne of England vnto her Maiestie, that I may vse his owne words) if it fell not out accordingly.
My selfe at this instant liker to die then to liue, by a mischance, could not follow this confident opinion of our refiner to my owne satisfaction: but afterward demanding our Generals opinion therein, and to haue some part of the Ore, he replied: Content your selfe, I haue seene ynough, and were it but to satisfie my priuate humor, I would proceede no further. Reasons why no further search was made for the siluer mine. The promise vnto my friends, and necessitie to bring also the South countries within compasse of my Patent neere expired, as we haue alreadie done these North parts, do only perswade me further. And touching the Ore, I haue sent it aboord, whereof I would haue no speech to be made so long as we remaine within harbor: here being both Portugals, Biscains, and Frenchmen not farre off, from whom must be kept any bruit or muttering of such matter. When we are at sea proofe shalbe made: if it be to our desire, we may returne the sooner hither againe. Whose answere I iudged reasonable, and contenting me well: wherewith will I conclude this narration and description of the Newfound land, and proceede to the rest of our voyage, which ended tragically.103
Misdemeanour in our companie. While the better sort of vs were seriously occupied in repairing our wants, and continuing of matters for the commoditie of our voyage: others of another sort and disposition were plotting of mischiefe. Some casting to steale away our shipping by night, watching opportunitie by the Generals and Captaines lying on the shore: whose conspiracies discouered, they were preuented. Others drew togither in company, and carried away out of the harbors adioyning, a ship laden with fish, setting the poore men on shore. A great many more of our people stole into the woods to hide themselues, attending time and meanes to returne home by such shipping as daily departed from the coast. Some were sicke of fluxes, and many dead: and in briefe, by one meanes or other our company was diminished, and many by the Generall licenced to returne home. Insomuch as after we had reuiewed our people, resolued to see an end of our voyage, we grewe scant of men to furnish all our shipping: it seemed good therefore vnto the Generall to leaue the Swallowe with such provision as might be spared for transporting home the sicke people.
God brought togither these men into the ship ordained to perish, who before had committed such outrage. The Captaine of the Delight or Admirall returned into England, in whose stead was appointed Captaine Maurice Browne, before Captaine of the Swallow: who also brought with him into the Delight all his men of the Swallow, which before haue bene noted of outrage perpetrated and committed vpon fishermen there met at sea.
Why sir Humf. Gilbert went in the Frigate. The Generall made choise to goe in his frigate the Squirrell (whereof the Captaine also was amongst them that returned into England) the same Frigate being most conuenient to discouer vpon the coast, and to search into euery harbor or creeke, which a great ship could not doe. Therefore the Frigate was prepared with her nettings and fights, and ouercharged with bases and such small Ordinance, more to giue a shew, then with iudgement to foresee vnto the safetie of her and the men, which afterward was an occasion also of their ouerthrow.
Liberalitie of the Portugals. Now hauing made readie our shipping, that is to say, the Delight, the golden Hinde, and the Squirrell, and put aboord our prouision, which was wines, bread or ruske, fish wette and drie, sweete oiles: besides many other, as marmalades, figs, lymmons barrelled, and such like: Also we had other necessary prouision for trimming our ships, nets and lines to fish withall, boates or pinnesses fit for discouery. In briefe, we were supplied of our wants commodiously, as if we had bene in a Countrey or some Citie populous and plentifull of all things.
S. Iohns in 47 deg. 40 min. We departed from this harbor of S. Iohns vpon Tuesday the twentieth of August, which we found by exact obseruation to be in 47 degrees 40 miuutes. And the next day by night we were at Cape Race, 25 leagues from the same harborough.
This Cape lyeth South Southwest from S. Iohns: it is a low land, being off from the Cape about halfe a league: within the sea riseth vp a rocke against the point of the Cape, which thereby is easily knowen. Cape Race in 46 degrees 25 minutes. It is in latitude 46 degrees 25 minutes.
Fish large and plentifull. Vnder this cape we were becalmed a small time, during which we layd out hookes and lines to take Codde, and drew in lesse then two houres, fish so large and in such abundance, that many dayes after we fed vpon no other prouision.
From hence we shaped our course vnto the Island of Sablon, if conueniently it would so fall out, also directly to Cape Briton.
Cattell in the Isle of Sablon. Sablon lieth to the sea-ward of Cape Briton about 25 leagues, whither we were determined to goe vpon intelligence we had of a Portugal, (during our abode in S. Iohns) who was himselfe present, when the Portugals (aboue thirty yeeres past) did put into the same Island both Neat and Swine to breede, which were since exceedingly multiplied. This seemed vnto vs very happy tidings, to haue in an Island lying so neere vnto the maine, which we intended to plant vpon, such store of cattell, whereby we might at all times conueniently be relieued of victuall, and serued of store for breed.
In this course we trended along the coast, which from Cape Race stretcheth into the Northwest, making a bay which some called Trepassa. Then it goeth out againe toward the West, and maketh a point, which with Cape Race lieth in maner East and West. But this point inclineth to the North: to the West of which goeth in the bay of Placentia. Good soile. We sent men on land to take view of the soyle along this coast, whereof they made good report, and some of them had wil to be planted there. They saw Pease growing in great abundance euery where.
The distance betweene Cape Race and Cape Briton is 87 leagues. In which Nauigation we spent 8 dayes, hauing many times the wind indifferent good; yet could we neuer attaine sight of any land all that time, seeing we were hindred by the current. At last we fell into such flats and dangers, that hardly any of vs escaped: where neuerthelesse we lost our Admiral with al the men and prouision, not knowing certainly the place. Yet for inducing men of skill to make coniecture, by our course and way we held from Cape Race thither (that thereby the flats and dangers may be inserted in sea Cards, for warning to others that may follow the same course hereafter) I haue set downe the best reckonings that were kept by expert men, William Cox Master of the Hind, and Iohn Paul his mate, both of Limehouse.
Reckonings kept in our course from Cape Race towards Cape Briton, and the Island of Sablon, to the time and place where we lost our Admirall.
|West and by South,||25.|
|August||29.||Westnorthwest,||12.||Here we lost our Admiral.|
|Summe of these leagues,||117.|
The reckoning of Iohn Paul masters mate from Cape Race.
|23||Northwest and by West,||9.|
|24||Southwest and by South,||5.|
|25||West and by South,||40.|
|26||West and by North,||7.|
|29||Northwest and by West,||20.||Here we lost our Admirall.|
|Summe of all these leagues,||121.|
Our course we held in clearing vs of these flats was Eastsoutheast, and Southeast, and South 14 leagues with a marueilous scant winde.
The maner how our Admirall was lost.
August 27. Vpon Tewsday the 27 of August, toward the euening, our Generall caused them in his frigat to sound, who found white sande at 35. fadome, being then in latitude about 44 degrees.
Wednesday toward night the wind came South, and wee bare with the land all that night, Westnorthwest, contrary to the mind of master Cox: neuerthelesse wee followed the Admirall, depriued of power to preuent a mischiefe, which by no contradiction could be brought to hold other course, alleaging they could not make the ship to worke better, nor to lie otherwaies.
Predictions before the wracke. The euening was faire and pleasant, yet not without token of storme to ensue, and most part of this Wednesday night, like the Swanne that singeth before her death, they in the Admiral, or Delight, continued in sounding of Trumpets, with Drummes, and Fifes: also winding the Cornets, Haught boyes: and in the end of their iolitie, left with the battell and ringing of doleful knels.
Towards the euening also we caught in the Golden Hinde a very mighty Porpose, with a harping yron, hauing first striken diuers of them, and brought away part of their flesh, sticking vpon the yron, but could recouer onely that one. These also passing through the Ocean, in heardes, did portend storme. I omit to recite friuolous reportes by them in the Frigat, of strange voyces, the same night, which scarred some from the helme.
Thursday the 29 of August, the wind rose, and blew vehemently at South and by East, bringing withal raine, and thicke mist, so that we could not see a cable length before vs. Losse of our Admirall. And betimes in the morning we were altogether runne and folded in amongst flats and sands, amongst which we found shoale and deepe in euery three or foure shippes length, after wee began to sound: but first we were vpon them vnawares, vntill master Cox looking out, discerned (in his iudgement) white cliffes, crying (land) withal, though we could not afterward descrie any land, it being very likely the breaking of the sea white, which seemed to be white cliffes, through the haze and thicke weather.
Immediatly tokens were giuen vnto the Delight, to cast about to seaward, which, being the greater ship, and of burden 120 tunnes, was yet formost vpon the breach, keeping so ill watch, that they knew not the danger before he felt the same, to late to recouer it: for presently the Admirall strooke a ground, and had soone after her sterne and hinder partes beaten in pieces: whereupon the rest (that is to say, the Frigat in which was the Generall and the Golden Hinde) cast about Eastsoutheast, bearing to the South, euen for our liues into the windes eye, because that way caried vs to the seaward. Making out from this danger, wee sounded one while seuen fadome, then fiue fadome, then foure fadome and lesse, againe deeper, immediatly foure fadome, then but three fadome, the sea going mightily and high. At last we recouered (God be thanked) in some despaire, to sea roome enough.
In this distresse, wee had vigilant eye vnto the Admirall, whom we sawe cast away, without power to giue the men succour, neither could we espie any of the men that leaped ouerboord to saue themselues, either in the same Pinnesse or Cocke, or vpon rafters, and such like meanes, presenting themselues to men in those extremities: for we desired to saue the men by euery possible meanes. But all in vaine, sith God had determined their ruine: yet all that day, and part of the next, we beat vp and downe as neere vnto the wracke as was possible for vs, looking out, if by good hap we might espie any of them.
This was a heavy and grieuous euent, to lose at one blow our chiefe shippe freighted with great prouision, gathered together with much trauell, care, long time, and difficultie. But more was the losse of our men, which perished to the number almost of a hundreth soules. Stephanus Parmenius a learned Hungarian. Amongst whom was drowned a learned man, an Hungarian, borne in the citie of Buda, called hereof Budæus, who of pietie and zeale to good attempts, aduentured in this action, minding to record in the Latine tongue, the gests and things worthy of remembrance, happening in this discouerie, to the honour of our nation, the same being adorned with the eloquent stile of this Orator, and rare Poet of our time.
Daniel a refiner of metal. Here also perished our Saxon Refiner and discouerer of inestimable riches, as it was left amongst some of vs in vndoubted hope.
No lesse heauy was the losse of the Captaine Maurice Browne, a vertuous, honest, and discreete Gentleman, ouerseene onely in liberty giuen late before to men, that ought to haue bene restrained, who shewed himselfe a man resolued, and neuer vnprepared for death, as by his last act of this tragedie appeared, by report of them that escaped this wracke miraculously, as shall bee hereafter declared. For when all hope was past of recouering the ship, and that men began to giue ouer, and to saue themselues, the Captaine was aduised before to ship also for his life, by the Pinnesse at the sterne of the ship: but refusing that counsell, he would not giue example with the first to leaue the shippe, but vsed all meanes to exhort his people not to despaire, nor so to leaue off their labour, choosing rather to die, then to incurre infamie, by forsaking his charge, which then might be thought to haue perished through his default, shewing an ill president vnto his men, by leauing the ship first himselfe. With this mind hee mounted vpon the highest decke, where hee attended imminent death, and vnauoidable; how long, I leaue it to God, who withdraweth not his comfort from his seruants at such times.
A wonderfull scape and deliuerance. A great distresse. A desperate resolution. In the meane season, certaine, to the number of fourteene persons, leaped into a small Pinnesse (the bignes of a Thames barge, which was made in the New found land) cut off the rope wherewith it was towed, and committed themselues to Gods mercy, amiddest the storme, and rage of sea and windes, destitute of foode, not so much as a droppe of fresh water.
The boate seeming ouercharged in foule weather with company, Edward Headly a valiant souldier, and well reputed of his companie, preferring the greater to the lesser, thought better that some of them perished then all, made this motion to cast lots, and them to bee throwen ouerboord vpon whom the lots fell, thereby to lighten the boate, which otherwayes seemed impossible to liue, offred himselfe with the first, content to take his aduenture gladly: which neuerthelesse Richard Clarke, that was Master of the Admirall, and one of this number, refused, aduising to abide Gods pleasure, who was able to saue all, as well as a few.
Two men famished. The boate was caried before the wind, continuing sixe dayes and nights in the Ocean, and arriued at last with the men (aliue but weake) vpon the New found land, sauing that the foresayd Headly, (who had bene late sicke) and another called of vs Brasile, of his trauell into those Countries, died by the way, famished and lesse able to holde out, then those of better health. For such was these poore mens extremitie, in cold and wet, to haue no better sustenance then their own vrine, for sixe dayes together.
Thus whom God deliuered from drowning, hee appointed to bee famished, who doth giue limits to mans times, and ordaineth the manner and circumstance of dying: whom againe he will preserue, neither Sea nor famine can confound. For those that arriued vpon the Newe found land, were brought into France by certaine French men, then being vpon that coast.
After this heauie chance, wee continued in beating the sea vp and downe, expecting when the weadier would cleere vp, that we might yet beare in with the land, which we iudged not farre off, either the continent or some Island. For we many times, and in sundry places found ground at 50, 45, 40 fadomes, and lesse. The ground comming vpon our lead, being sometimes oazie sand, and otherwhile a broad shell, with a little sand about it.
Causes inforcing vs to returne home againe. Our people lost courage dayly after this ill successe, the weather continuing thicke and blustering, with increase of cold, Winter drawing on, which tooke from them all hope of amendment, setling an assurance of worse weather to growe vpon vs euery day. The Leeside of vs lay full of flats and dangers ineuitable, if the wind blew hard at South. Some againe doubted we were ingulphed in the Bay of S. Laurence, the coast full of dangers, and vnto vs vnknowen. But aboue all, prouision waxed scant, and hope of supply was gone, with losse of our Admirall.
Those in the Frigat were already pinched with spare allowance, and want of clothes chiefly: Whereupon they besought the Generall to returne for England, before they all perished. And to them of the Golden Hinde, they made signes of their distresse, pointing to their mouthes, and to their clothes thinne and ragged: then immediately they also of the Golden Hinde, grew to be of the same opinion and desire to returne home.
The former reasons hauing also moued the Generall to haue compassion of his poore men, in whom he saw no want of good will, but of meanes fit to performe the action they came for, resolued vpon retire: and calling the Captaine and Master of the Hinde, he yeelded them many reasons, inforcing this vnexpected returne, withall protesting himselfe greatly satisfied with that hee had seene, and knew already.
Reiterating these words. Be content, we haue seene enough, and take no care of expence past: I will set you foorth royally the next Spring, if God send vs safe home. Therefore I pray you let vs no longer striue here, where we fight against the elements.
Omitting circumstance, how vnwillingly the Captaine and Master of the Hinde condescended to this motion, his owne company can testifie: yet comforted with the Generals promises of a speedie returne at Spring, and induced by other apparent reasons, prouing an impossibilitie, to accomplish the action at that time, it was concluded on all hands to retire.
August 31. So vpon Saturday in the afternoone the 31 of August, we changed our course, and returned backe for England, A monster of the sea. at which very instant, euen in winding about, there passed along betweene vs and towards the land which we now forsooke a very lion to our seeming, in shape, hair and colour, not swimming after the maner of a beast by moouing of his feete, but rather sliding vpon the water with his whole body (excepting the legs) in sight, neither yet diuing vnder, and againe rising aboue the water, as the maner is, of Whales, Dolphins, Tunise, Torposes, and all other fish: but confidently shewing himselfe aboue water without hiding: Notwithstanding, we presented our selues in open view and gesture to amase him, as all creatures will be commonly at a sudden gaze and sight of men. Thus he passed along turning his head to and fro, yawning and gaping wide, with ougly demonstration of long teeth, and glaring eies, and to bidde vs a farewell (comming right against the Hinde) he sent forth a horrible voyce, roaring or bellowing as doeth a lion, which spectacle wee all beheld so farre as we were able to discerne the same, as men prone to wonder at euery strange thing, as this doubtlesse was, to see a lion in the Ocean sea, or fish in shape of a lion. What opinion others had thereof, and chiefly the Generall himselfe, I forbeare to deliuer: But he tooke it for Bonum Omen, reioycing that he was to warre against such an enemie, if it were the deuill.
The wind was large for England at our returne, but very high, and the sea rough, insomuch as the Frigat wherein the Generall went was almost swalowed vp.
September 2. Munday in the afternoone we passed in the sight of Cape Race, hauing made as much way in little more then two dayes and nights backe againe, as before wee had done in eight dayes from Cape Race, vnto the place where our ship perished. Which hindrance thitherward, and speed back againe, is to be imputed vnto the swift current, as well as to the winds, which we had more large in our returne.
This Munday the Generall came aboord the Hind to haue the Surgeon of the Hind to dresse his foote, which he hurt by treading vpon a naile: At what time we comforted ech other with hope of hard successe to be all past, and of the good to come. So agreeing to cary out lights alwayes by night, that we might keepe together, he departed into his Frigat, being by no meanes to be intreated to tarie in the Hind, which had bene more for his security. Immediatly after followed a sharpe storme, which we ouerpassed for that time. Praysed be God.
Our last conference with our Generall. The weather faire, the Generall came aboord the Hind againe, to make merrie together with the Captaine, Master and company which was the last meeting, and continued there from morning untill night. During which time there passed sundry discourses, touching affaires past, and to come, lamenting greatly the losse of his great ship, more of the men, but most of all of his bookes and notes, and what els I know not, for which hee was out of measure grieued, the same doubtles being some matter of more importance then his bookes, which I could not draw from him: yet by circumstance I gathered, the same to be the Ore which Daniel the Saxon had brought vnto him in the New found land. Circumstances to be well obserued in our Generall, importing the Ore to be of a Siluer mine. Whatsoeuer it was, the remembrance touched him so deepe, as not able to containe himselfe, he beat his boy in great rage, euen at the same time, so long after the miscarrying of the great ship, because vpon a faire day, when wee were becalmed vpon the coast of the New found land, neere vnto Cape Race, he sent his boy aboord the Admirall, to fetch certaine things: amongst which, this being chiefe, was yet forgotten and left behind. After which time he could neuer conueniently send againe aboord the great ship, much lesse hee doubted her ruine so neere at hand.
Herein my opinion was better confirmed diursely, and by sundry coniectures, which maketh me haue the greater hope of this rich Mine. For where as the Generall had neuer before good conceit of these North parts of the world: now his mind was wholly fixed vpon the New found land. And as before he refused not to grant assignements liberally to them that required the same into these North parts, now he became contrarily affected, refusing to make any so large grants, especially of S. Iohns, which certaine English merchants made suite for, offering to imploy their money and trauell vpon the same: yet neither by their owne suite, nor of others of his owne company, whom he seemed willing to pleasure, it could be obtained.
Also laying downe his determination in the Spring following, for disposing of his voyage then to be reattempted: he assigned the Captaine and Master of the Golden Hind, vnto the South discouery, and reserued vnto himselfe the North, affirming that this voyage had wonne his heart from the South, and that he was now become a Northerne man altogether.
Last, being demanded what means he had at his arriuall in England, to compasse the charges of so great preparation as he intended to make the next Spring: hauing determined vpon two fleetes, one for the South, another for the North: Leaue that to mee (hee replied) I will aske a pennie of no man. I will bring good tidings vnto her Maiesty, who wil be so gracious, to lend me 10000 pounds, willing vs therefore to be of good cheere: for he did thanke God (he sayd) with al his heart, for that he had seene, the same being enough for vs all, and that we needed not to seeke any further. And these last words he would often repeate, with demonstration of great feruencie of mind, being himselfe very confident, and setled in beliefe of inestimable good by his voyage: which the greater number of his followers neuertheles mistrusted altogether, not being made partakers of those secrets, which the Generall kept vnto himselfe. Yet all of them that are liuing, may be witnesses of his words and protestations, which sparingly I have deliuered.
Leauing the issue of this good hope vnto God, who knoweth the trueth only, and can at his good pleasure bring the same to light: I will hasten to the end of this tragedie, which must be knit vp in the person of our Generall. Wilfulnes in the Generall. And as it was Gods ordinance vpon him, euen so the vehement perswasion and intreatie of his friends could nothing auaile, to diuert him from a wilfull resolution of going through in his Frigat, which was ouercharged vpon their deckes, with fights, nettings, and small artillerie, too cumbersome for so small a boate, that was to passe through the Ocean sea at that season of the yere, when by course we might expect much storme of foule weather, whereof indeed we had enough.
A token of a good mind. But when he was intreated by the Captaine, Master, and other his well willers of the Hinde, not to venture in the Frigat, this was his answere: I will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I haue passed so many stormes and perils. And in very trueth, hee was vrged to be so ouer hard, by hard reports giuen of him, that he was afraid of the sea, albeit this was rather rashnes, then aduised resolution, to preferre the wind of a vaine report to the weight of his owne life.
Seeing he would not bend to reason, he had prouision out of the Hinde, such as was wanting aboord his Frigat. And so we committed him to Gods protection, and set him aboord his Pinnesse, we being more then 300 leagues onward of our way home.
By that time we had brought the Islands of Açores South of vs, yet wee then keeping much to the North, vntill we had got into the height and eleuation of England: we met with very foule weather, and terrible seas, breaking short and high Pyramid wise. The reason whereof seemed to proceede either of hilly grounds high and low within the sea, (as we see hilles and dales vpon the land) vpon which the seas doe mount and fall: or else the cause proceedeth of diuersitie of winds, shifting often in sundry points: al which hauing power to moue the great Ocean, which againe is not presently setled, so many seas do encounter together, as there had bene diuersitie of windes. Howsoeuer it commeth to passe, men which all their life time had occupied the Sea, neuer saw more outragious Seas. We had also vpon our maine yard, an apparition of a little fire by night, which seamen doe call Castor and Pollux. But we had onely one, which they take an euill signe of more tempest: the same is vsuall in stormes.
A resolute and Christianlike saying in a distresse. Munday the ninth of September, in the afternoone, the Frigat was neere cast away, oppressed by waues, yet at that time recouered: and giuing foorth signes of ioy, the Generall sitting abaft with a booke in his hand, cried out vnto vs in the Hind (so oft as we did approch within hearing) We are as neere to heauen by sea as by land. Reiterating the same speech, well beseeming a souldier, resolute in Iesus Christ, as I can testifie he was.
Sir Humfrey Gilbert drowned. The same Monday night, about twelue of the clocke, or not long after, the Frigat being ahead of vs in the Golden Hinde, suddenly her lights were out, whereof as it were in a moment, we lost the sight, and withall our watch cryed, the Generall was cast away, which was so true. For in that moment, the Frigat was deuoured and swallowed vp of the Sea. Yet still we looked out all that night, and euer after, vntill wee arriued vpon the coast of England: Omitting no small saile at sea, vnto which we gaue not the tokens betweene vs, agreed vpon, to haue perfect knowledge of each other, if we should at any time be separated.
Arriuall in England of the Golden Hinde. In great torment of weather, and perill of drowning, it pleased God to send safe home the Golden Hinde, which arriued in Falmouth, the 22 day of September, being Sunday, not without as great danger escaped in a flaw, comming from the Southeast, with such thicke mist, that we could not discerne land, to put in right with the Hauen.
From Falmouth we went to Dartmouth, and lay there at anker before the Range, while the captaine went aland, to enquire if there had bene any newes of the Frigat, while sayling well, might happily haue bene there before vs. A fit motion of the Captain vnto Sir Humfrey Gilbert. Also to certifie Sir Iohn Gilbert, brother vnto the Generall of our hard successe, whom the Captaine desired (while his men were yet aboord him, and were witnesses of all occurents in that voyage,) It might please him to take the examination of euery person particularly, in discharge of his and their faithfull endeauour. Sir Iohn Gilbert refused so to doe, holding himselfe satisfied with report made by the Captaine: and not altogether dispairing of his brothers safetie, offered friendship and curtesie to the Captaine and his company, requiring to haue his barke brought into the harbour: in furtherance whereof, a boate was sent to helpe to tow her in.
Neuerthelesse, when the Captaine returned aboord his ship, he found his men bent to depart, euery man to his home: and then the winde seruing to proceede higher vpon the coast: they demanded monie to carie them home, some to London, others to Harwich, and elsewhere, (if the barke should be caried into Dartmouth, and they discharged, so farre from home) or else to take benefite of the wind, then seruing to draw neerer home, which should be a lesse charge vnto the Captaine, and great ease vnto the men, hauing els farre to goe.
Reason accompanied with necessitie perswaded the Captaine, who sent his lawfull excuse and cause of his sudden departure vnto Sir Iohn Gilbert, by the boate at Dartmouth, and from thence the Golden Hind departed, and tooke harbour at Waimouth. An ill recompense. Al the men tired with the tediousnes of so vnprofitable a voyage to their seeming: in which their long expence of time, much toyle and labour, hard diet and continuall hazard of life was vnrecompensed: their Captaine neuerthelesse by his great charges, impaired greatly thereby, yet comforted in the goodnes of God, and his vndoubted prouidence following him in all that voyage, as it doth alwaies those at other times, whosoeuer haue confidence in him alone. Yet haue we more neere feeling and perseuerance of his powerfull hand and protection, when God doth bring vs together with others into one same peril, in which he leaueth them, and deliuereth vs, making vs thereby the beholders, but not partakers of their ruine.
Euen so, amongst very many difficulties, discontentments, mutinies, conspiracies, sicknesses, mortalitie, spoylings, and wracks by sea, which were afflictions, more then in so small a Fleete, or so short a time may be supposed, albeit true in euery particularitie, as partly by the former relation may be collected, and some I suppressed with silence for their sakes liuing, it pleased God to support this company, (of which onely one man died of a maladie inueterate, and long infested): the rest kept together in reasonable contentment and concord, beginning, continuing, and ending the voyage, which none els did accomplish, either not pleased with the action, or impatient of wants, or preuented by death.
Constancie in sir Humfrey Gilbert. Thus haue I deliuered the contents of the enterprise and last action of sir Humfrey Gilbert knight, faithfully, for so much as I thought meete to be published: wherein may alwaies appeare, (though he be extinguished) some sparkes of his vertues, he remaining firme and resolute in a purpose by all pretence honest and godly, as was this, to discouer, possesse, and to reduce vnto the seruice of God, and Christian pietie, those remote and heathen Countreys of America, not actually possessed by Christians, and most rightly appertaining vnto the Crowne of England: vnto the which, as his zeale deserueth high commendation: euen so, he may iustly be taxed of temeritie and presumption (rather) in two respects.
His temeritie and presumption. First, when yet there was onely probabilitie, not a certaine and determinate place of habitation selected, neither any demonstration of commoditie there in esse, to induce his followers: neuertheles, he both was too prodigall of his owne patrimony, and too careles of other mens expences, to imploy both his and their substance vpon a ground imagined good. The which falling, very like his associates were promised, and made it their best reckoning to bee salued some other way, which pleased not God to prosper in his first and great preparation.
Secondly, when by his former preparation he was enfeebled of abilitie and credit, to performe his designements, as it were impatient to abide in expectation better opportunitie and meanes, which God might raise, he thrust himselfe againe into the action, for which he was not fit, presuming the cause pretended on Gods behalfe, would carie him to the desired ende. Into which, hauing thus made reentrie, he could not yeeld againe to withdraw though hee sawe no encouragement to proceed, lest his credite, foyled in his first attempt, in a second should vtterly be disgraced. Betweene extremities, hee made a right aduenture, putting all to God and good fortune, and which was worst refused not to entertaine euery person and meanes whatsoeuer, to furnish out this expedition, the successe whereof hath bene declared.
But such is the infinite bountie of God, who from euery euill deriueth good. Afflictions needfull in the children of God. For besides that fruite may growe in time of our trauelling into those Northwest lands, the crosses, turmoiles, and afflictions, both in the preparation and execution of this voyage, did correct the intemperate humors, which before we noted to bee in this Gentleman, and made vnsauorie, and lesse delightful his other manifold vertues.
Then as he was refined, and made neerer drawing vnto the image of God: so it pleased the diuine will to resume him vnto himselfe, whither both his, and euery other high and noble minde, haue alwayes aspired.
98 This refers to Gilbert’s first voyage in 1578.
100 The Newfoundland Banks are rather a submarine Plateau than banks in the ordinary sense. The bottom is rocky, and generally reached at 25 to 95 fathoms: length and breadth about 300 miles: the only shallow region in the Atlantic.
101 The cold on the coast is partly due to the quantities of ice descending from Baffin’s Bay.
103 Silver, and even gold, has been found in Newfoundland.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51