A relation of Richard Clarke of Weymouth, master of the ship called the Delight, going for the discouery of Norembega, with Sir Humfrey Gilbert 1583. Written in excuse of that fault of casting away the ship and men, imputed to his ouersight.
Departing out of Saint Iohns Harborough in the Newfound land the 20. of August vnto Cape Raz, from thence we directed our course vnto the Ile of Sablon or the Isle of Sand, which the Generall Sir Humfrey Gilbert would willingly haue seene. 20 Leagues from the Isle of Sablon. But when we came within twentie leagues of the Isle of Sablon, we fell to controuersie of our course. The Generall came vp in his Frigot and demanded of mee Richard Clarke master of the Admirall what course was best to keepe: I said that Westsoutwest was best: because the wind was at South and night at hand and vnknowen sands lay off a great way from the land. The Generall commanded me to go Westnorthwest. 15 Leagues from the Isle of Sablon. I told him againe that the Isle of Salon was Westnorthwest and but 15. leagues off; and that he should be vpon the Island before day, if hee went that course. The Generall sayd, my reckoning was vntrue, and charged me in her Maiesties name, and as I would shewe myselfe in her Countrey to follow him that night. Herin Clarke vntruely chargeth sir Humfrey Gilbert. I fearing his threatenings, because he presented her Maiesties person, did follow his commaundement, and about seuen of the clocke in the morning the ship stroke on ground, where shee was cast away. Then the Generall went off to Sea, the course that I would haue had them gone before, and saw the ship cast away men and all, and was not able to saue a man, for there was not water vpon the sand for either of them much lesse the Admirall, that drew fourteene foote. The ship cast away on Thursday being the 29 of August 1583. Now as God would the day before it was very calme, and a Souldier of the ship had killed some foule with his piece, and some of the company desired me that they might hoyse out the boat to recouer the foule, which I granted them: and when they came aboord they did not hoyse it in againe that night. And when the ship was cast away the boate was a sterne being in burthen one tunne and an halfe: there was left in the boate one oare and nothing els. Some of the company could swimme, and recouered the boate and did hale in out of the water as many men as they coulde: among the rest they had a care to watch for the Captaine or the Master: They happened on my selfe being the master, but could neuer see the Captaine: Sixteene gate into the shipboate. Then they halled into the boate as many men as they could in number 16. whose names hereafter I will rehearse. And when the 16. were in the boate, some had small remembrance, and some had none: for they did not make account to liue, but to prolong their liues as long as it pleased God, and looked euery moment of an houre when the Sea would eate them vp, the boate being so little and so many men in her, and so foule weather, that it was not possible for a shippe to brooke halfe a course of sayle. Thus while wee remayned two dayes and two nights, and that wee saw it pleased God our boate liued in the Sea (although we had nothing to helpe vs withall but one oare, which we kept vp the boate withall vpon the Sea, and so went euen as the Sea would driue vs) there was in our company one Master Hedly that put foorth this question to me the Master. Master Hedlyes vngodly proposition. I doe see that it doth please God, that our boate lyueth in the Sea, and it may please God that some of vs may come to the land if our boate were not ouerladen. Let vs make sixteene lots, and those foure that haue the foure shortest lots we will cast ouerboord preseruing the Master among vs all. I replied vnto him, saying, no we will liue and die together. Master Hedley asked me if my remembrance were good: I answered I gaue God prayse it was good, and knewe how farre I was off the land, and was in hope to come to the land within two or three dayes, and sayde they were but threescore leagues from the lande, (when they were seuentie) all to put them in comfort. Thus we continued the third and fourth day without any sustenance, saue onely the weedes that swamme in the Sea, and salt water to drinke. The fifth day Hedly dyed and another moreouer: then wee desired all to die: for in all these fiue dayes and fiue nights we saw the Sunne but once and the Starre but one night, it was so foule weather. Thus we did remaine the sixt day: then we were very weake and wished all to die sauing only my selfe which did comfort them and promised they should come soone to lande by the helpe of God: but the company were very importunate, and were in doubt they should neuer come to land, but that I promised them that the seuenth day they should come to shore, or els they should cast me ouer boord: They came on land the 7 day after their shipwracke. which did happen true the seuenth day, for at eleuen of the clocke wee had sight of the land, and at 3. of the clocke at afternoone we came on land. All these seuen dayes and seuen nights, the wind kept continually South. If the wind had in the meanetime shifted vpon any other point, wee had neuer come to land: we were no sooner come to the land, but the wind came cleane contrary at North within halfe an houre after our arriuall. But we were so weake that one could scarcely helpe another of vs out of the boate, yet with much adoe being come all on shore we kneeled downe ypon our knees and gaue God praise that he had dealt so mercifully with vs. Afterwards those which were strongest holpe their fellowes vnto a fresh brooke, where we satisfied our selues with water and berries very well. The fruitfulnesse of the south part of Newfound land. There were of al sorts of berries plentie, and as goodly a Countrey as euer I saw: we found a very faire plaine Champion ground that a man might see very farre euery way: by the Sea side was here and there a little wood with goodly trees as good as euer I saw any in Norway, able to mast any shippe, of pyne trees, spruse trees, firre, and very great birch trees. Where we came on land we made a little house with boughes, where we rested all that night. In the morning I deuided the company three and three to goe euery way to see what foode they could find to sustaine thenselues, and appointed them to meete there all againe at noone with such foode as they could get. As we went aboord we found great store of peason as good as any wee haue in England: a man would thinke they had bene sowed there. We rested there three dayes and three nights and liued very well with pease and berries, wee named the place Saint Laurence, because it was a very goodly riuer like the riuer of S. Laurence in Canada, and we found it very full of Salmons. When wee had rested our selues wee rowed our boate along the shore, thinking to haue gone to the Grande Bay to haue come home with some Spanyards which are yeerely there to kill the Whale: And when we were hungry or a thirst we put our boate on land and gathered pease and berries. Thus wee rowed our boate along the shore fiue dayes: about which time we came to a very goodly riuer that ranne farre vp into the Countrey and saw very goodly growen trees of all sortes. Foureteen of our men brought out of Newfound land in a ship of S. Iohn de Luz. There we happened vpon a ship of Saint Iohn de Luz, which ship brought vs into Biskay to an Harborough called The Passage. The Master of the shippe was our great friend, or else we had bene put to death if he had not kept our counsayle. For when the visitors came aboord, as it is the order in Spaine, they demanding what we were, he sayd we were poore fishermen that had cast away our ship in Newfound land and so the visitors inquired no more of the matter at that time. Assoone as night was come he put vs on land and bad vs shift for our selues. Then had wee but tenne or twelue miles into France, which we went that night, and then cared not for the Spanyard. And so shortly after we came into England toward the end of the yeere 1583.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51