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The conquest of the great Northwest: being the story of the ..., Volumes 1-2 online

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was to be brigandage — ^brigandage pure and simple

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HvdsorCs Third Voyage



—from the Zuider Zee to Panama, from the North
Pole to the South.

Hudson's voyages for the Muscovy merchants of
London to find a short way to Asia at once arrested
the attention of the Dutch. Dutch and English
vied with each other for the discovery of that short
road to the Orient. For a century the chance en-
counter of Dutch and English sailors on Arctic seas
had been the signal for the instant breaking of heads.
Not whales but men were harpooned when Dutch
and English fishermen met off Nova Zembla, or
Spitzbergen, or the North Cape.

Hudson was no sooner home from his second
voyage for the English than the Dutch East India
Company invited him to Holland to seek passage
across the Pole for them. This — it should be ex-
plained — is the only justification that exists for writ-
ing the English pilot's name as Hcndrick instead of
Henry, as though employment by the Dutch changed
the Englishman's nationality.

The invitation was Hudson's salvation. Just at
the moment when all doors were shut against him in
England and when his hopes were utterly baffled by
two failures — another door opened. Just at the mo-
ment when his own thoughts were turning toward
America as the solution of the North- West Passage,
the chance came to seek the passage in America.

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The Corupiest of the Great Northwest

Just when Hudson was at the point where he might
have abandoned his will-o'-the-wisp, it lighted him
to a fresh pursuit on a new Trail. It is such coin-
cidences as these in human life that cause the poet
to sing of Destiny.

But the chanciness of human fortune did not cease
because of this stroke of good luck. The great mer-
chants of the Netherlands heard his plans. His
former failures were against him. Money bags do
not care to back an uncertainty. Having paid his
expenses to come to Holland, the merchant princes
were disposed to let him cool his heels in the outer
halls waiting their pleasure. The chances are they
would have rejected his overtures altogether if France
and Belgium had not at that time begun to consider
the employment of Hudson on voyages of discovery.
The Amsterdam merchants of the Dutch East India
Company suddenly awakened to the fact that they
wanted Hudson, and wanted him at once. Again
Destiny, or a will-o'-the-wisp as impish as Puck —
had befriended him.

At Amsterdam, he was furnished with two vessels,
the Good Hope as an escort part way; the Half Moon
for the voyage itself — a flat-bottomed, tub-like yacht
such as plied the shallows of Holland. In his crew,
he was unfortunate. The East India Company, of
course, supplied him with the sailors of their own

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boats — ^lawless lascars; turbaned Asiatics with
stealthy tread and velvet voices and a dirk hidden in
their girdles; gypsy nondescripts with the hot blood
of the hot tropics and the lawless instincts of birds
of plunder. Your crew trained to cut the Spaniard's
throat may acquire the habit and cut the master's
throat, too. Along with these sailors, Hudson in-
sisted on having a few Englishmen from his former
crews, among whom were Colman and Juet and his
own son. Juet acted as astronomer and keeper of
the ship's log. From Juet and Van Meteren, the
Dutch consul in England in whose hands Hudson's
manuscripts finally fell — ^are drawn all the facts of
the voyage.

On March -25 (April 6, new style), 1609, t^^ cum-
bersome crafts swung out on the hazy yellow of the
Zuider Zee. Motlier ships were about Hudson, here,
than on the Thames, for the Dutch had an enormous
commerce with the East and the West Indies. Fe-
luccas with lateen sails and galleys for oarsmen had
come up from the Mediterranean. Dutch pirates
of the Barbary Coast — narrow in the prow, narrow
in the keel, built for swift sailing and light cargoes —
had forgathered, sporting sails of a different design
for every harbor. Then, there were the East India-
men, ponderous, slow-moving, deep and broad, with
cannon bristling through the ports like men-of-war,

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and tawny Asiatic faces leering over the taflfrail.
Yawls from the low-l)ang coast, three-masted lug-
gers from Denmark, Norwegian ships with hideous
scaled griffins carved on the sharp-curved prows,
brigs and brigantines and caravels and tall galleons
from Spain — ^all crowded the ports of the Nether-
lands, whose commerce was at its zeniths Thread-
ing his way through the motley craft, Hudson slowly
worked out to sea.

All went well till the consort, Good Hope, turned
back north of Norway and the Half Moofi ploughed
on alone into the ice fields of Nova Zembla with her
lawless lascar crew. This was the region where
other Dutch crews had perished miserably. Here,
too, Hudson's English sailors had lost courage the
year before. And here Dutch and English always
fought for fishing rights. The cold north wind
roared down in gusts and flaws and sudden bursts of
fury. Against such freezing cold, the flimsy finery
of damasks and calico worn by the East Indians was
no protection. The lascars were chilled to the bone.
They lay huddled in their berths bound up in
blankets and refused to stir above decks in such cold.
Promptly, the English sailors rebelled against double
work. The old feud between English and Dutch
flamed up. Knives were out, and before Hudson
realized, a mutiny was raging about his ears.

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If he turned back, he was ruined. The door of
opportunity to new success is a door that shuts
against retreat. His friend, Smith of Virginia, had
written to him of the great inlet of the Chesapeake
in America., South of the Chesapeake was no pas- '
sage to the South Sea. Smith knew that; but north
of the Chesapeake old charts marked an unexplored
arai of the sea. When Verrazano, the Italian,
coasted America for France in 1524, he had been
driven by a squall from the entrance to a vast river
between Thirty-nine and Forty-one (the Hudson
River) ; and the Spanish charts of Estevan Gomez,
in 1525, marked an unknown Rio de Gamos on the
same coast. Hudson now recalled Smith's advice
—to seek passage between the James River and the
St. Lawrence.

To clinch matters came a gust driving westward
over open sea. Robert Juet, seeking guidance from
the heavenly bodies, notices for the first time in
history, on May 19, that there is a spot on the sun.
If Hudson had accomplished nothing more, he had
made two important discoveries for science — the
Polar Current and the spot on the sun. Geog-
raphers and astronomers have been knighted and
pensioned for less important discoveries.

West, southwest, drove the storm flaw, the Half
Moon scudding bare of sails for three hundred miles.

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Was it destiny again, or his daemon, or his Puck, or
his will-o'-the-wisp, or the Providence of God — that
drove Hudson contrary to his plans straight for the
scene of his immortal discoveries? Pause was made
at the Faroes for wood and water. There, too, Hud-
son consulted with his oflScers and decided to steer
for America.

' Once more afloat, June saw the Half Moon with
its lazy lascars lounging over rails down among the
brown fogs of Newfoundland. Here a roaring nor'-
easter came with the suddenness of a thunderclap.
The scream of wind through the rigging, the growlers
swishing against the keel, then the thunder of the
great billows banging broadsides — ^were like the
burst of cannon fire over a battlefield. The fore-
mast snapped and swept into the seas as the little
Half Moon careened over on one side, and the next
gust that caught her tore the other sails to tatters,
but she still kept her prow headed southwest.

Pogs lay as they nearly always lie on the Grand
Banks, but a sudden lift of the mist on June 25 re-
vealed a sail standing east. To the pirate East
Indian sailors, the sight of the strange ship was like
the smell of powder to a battle horse. Loot ! Spanish
loot! With a whoop, they headed the Half Moon
about in utter disregard of Hudson, and gave chase.
From midday to dark the Half Moon played pirate,

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cutting the waves in pursuit, careening to the wind
in a way that threatened to capsize boat and crew,
the fugitive bearing away like a bird on wing. This
little by-play lasted till darkness hid the strange ship,
but the madcap prank seemed to rouse the lazy
lascars from their torpor. Henceforth, they were
alert for any lawless raid that promised plunder.

Back about the Half Moon through the warm June
night. Dutch and English forgathered in the moon-
light squatting about on the ship's kegs spinning
yams of bloody pirate venture, when Spanish car-
goes were scuttled and Spanish dons tossed off bayo-
net point into the sea, and Spanish ladies compelled
to walk the plank blindfolded into watery graves.
What kind of venture did they expect in America —
this rascal crew?

Then the fogs of the Banks settled down again like
wool. Here and there, like phantom ships were the
saik of the French fishing fleet, or the black-hulled
bateaux, or the rocking Newfoundland dories.

A long white curl of combing waves, and they have
sheered off from the Wreckers' Reef at Sable Island.

Slower now, and steady, the small boats sounding
ahead, for the water is shallow and the wind shifty.
In the calm that falls, the crew fishes lazily over
decks for cod. Through the fog and dark of July
i6, something ahead looks like islands. The boat

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

anchors for the night, and when gray morning breaks,
the Half Moon lies off what is now known as Penob-
scot Bay, Maine.

Two dugouts paddled by Indians come climbing
the waves. Dressed in breechcloths of fur and
feathers, the savages mount the decks without fear.
The lascars gather round — ^not much promise of
plunder from such scant attire! By signs and a few
French words, the Indians explain that St. Lawrence
traders frequent this coast. The East India cut-'
throats prick up their ears. Trade — ^what had these
defenceless savages to trade?

That week Hudson sailed up the river and sent
his carpenters ashore to make fresh masts, but the
East India men rummaged the redskins' camp.
Great store of furs, they saw. It was not the kind of
loot they wanted. Gold was more to their choice,
but it was better than no loot at all.

The Half Moon was ready to sail on the 25th of
July. In spite of Hudson's commands, six sailors
went ashore with heavy old-fashioned musketoons
known as "murderers." Seizing the Indian canoes,
they opened fire on the camp. The amazed Indians
dashed for hiding in the woods. The sailors then
plundered the wigwams of everything that could be
carried away. This has always been considered
a terrible blot against Hudson's fame. The only

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Hudson's Third Voyage



explanation given by Juet in the ship's log is, ^'we
drove the savages from the houses and took the spoyle
as they would have done of us.^^ Van Meteren, the
Dutch consul in London, who had Hudson's account,
gives another explanation. He declares the Dutch
sailors conducted the raid in spite of all the force
with which Hudson could oppose them. The Eng-
lish sailors refused to enforce his commands by
fighting, for they were ojatnumbered by the muti-
neers. No sooner were the mutineef s back on deck
than they fell to pummeling one another over a divi-
sion of the plunder. Any one, who knows how news
carries among the Indians by what fur traders
describe as "the moccasin telegram," could predict
results. ''The moccasin telegram" bore exagge-
rated rumors of the outrage from the Penobscot to
the Ohio. The white man was a man to be fought,
ior he had proved himself a treacherous friend.

Wind-bound at times, keeping close to land,'
warned oflF the reefs through fog by a great rutt or
rustling of the tide, the pirate sailors now disregard- '
ing all commands, the Half Moon drifted lazily
southward past Cape Cod. Somewhere near Nan-
tucket, a lonely cry sounded from the wooded shore.
It was a human voice. Fearing some Christian had
been marooned by mutineers like his own crew, Hud-
son sent his small boat ashore. A camp of Indians

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

was found dancing in a frenzy of joy at the appari-
tion of the great "winged wigwam" gliding over the
sea. A present of glass buttons filled their cup of
happiness to the brim.

Grapevines festooned the dank forests. Flowers
still bloomed in shady nooks — the wild sunflower
and the white daisy and the nodding goldenrod; and
the sailors drank clear water from a crystal spring
at the roots of a great oalj. Robert Juet's ship log
records that ^^Ihe Indian country of great hilW^ —
Massachusetts — ^was "a very sweet land^

On August 7, Hudson was abreast New York
harbor; but a mist part heat, part fog, part the
gathering purples of coming autumn — hid the low-
lying hills. Sliding idly along the summer sea,
mystic, unreal, lotus dreams in the very August air,
the world a world of gold in the yellow summer
light — the Half Moon came to James River by Au-
gust i8, where Smith of Virginia lived; but the
mutineers had no mind to go up to Jamestown set-
tlement. There, the English would outnumber
them, and English law did not deal gently with
mutineers. A heat hurricane sent the green waves
smashing over decks off South Carolina, and in the
frantic fright of the ship's cat dashing from side to
side, the turbaned pirates imagined portent of evil.
Perhaps, too, they were coming too near the Spanish

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Hudson's Third Voyage



settlements of Florida. All their bravado of scuttled
Spanish ships may have been pot-valor. Any way,
they consented to head the boat back north in a
search for the passage above the Chesapeake.

Past the swampy Chesapeake, a run up the Dela-
ware burnished as a mirror in the morning light;
through the heat haze over a glassy sea along that
New Jersey shore where the world of pleasure now
passes its summers from Cape May and Atlantic!
City to the highlands of New Jersey — slowly glided
the Half Moon. Sand reefs gritted the keel, and the
boat sheered out from shore where a line of white
foam forewarned more reefs. Juet, the mate, did
duty at the masthead, scanning the long coast line
for that inlet of the old charts. The East India
men lay sprawled over decks, beards unkempt, long
hair tied back by gypsy handkerchiefs, bizarre jewels
gleaming from huge brass earrings. Some were
paying out the sounding line from the curved beak
of the prow. Others fished for a shark at the stem, '
throwing out pork bait at the end of a rope. Many
were squatted on the decks unsheltered from the sun,
chattering like parrots over games of chance.

A sudden shout from Juet at the masthead — of
shoals! A grit of the keel over pebbly bottom! On
the far inland hills, the signal fires of watching
Indians! Then the sea breaking from between

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

islands turbid and muddy as if it came from some

great river — September 2, they have found the

inlet of the old charts. They are on the threshold

of New York harbor. They have discovered the

great river now known by Hudson's name. Even

the mutineers stop gambling to observe the scene.

The ringleader that in all sea stories wears a hook

on one arm points to the Atlantic Highlands smoky

in the summer heat. On their left to the south is

Sandy Hook; to the north, Staten Island. To the

\ right with a lumpy hill line like green waves running

J into one another lie Coney Island and Long Island.

J The East India men laugh with glee. It's a fine

land. It's a big land. This is better than risking

!the gallows for mutiny down in Virginia, or taking

chances of having throats cut boarding some Spanish

galleon of the South Seas. The ship's log does not

say anything about it. Neither does Van Meteren's

record, but I don't think Hudson would have been

human if his heart did not give a leap. At five in the

afternoon of September 2, the Half Moon anchored at

the entrance to New York harbor not far from where

, the Goddess of Liberty waves her great arm to-day.

Silent is the future, silent as the sphinx! How

could those Dutch sailors guess, how could the Dutch

company that sent them to the Pole know, that the

commerce of the world for which they fought Spain

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—would one day beat up and down these harbor
waters? Dreamed he never so wildly, Hudson's
wildest dream could not have forseen that the river
he had discovered would one day throb to the multi-
tudinous voices of a world traffic, a world empire, a
world wealth.

In Hudson's day, Spain was the leader of the
world's commerce against whom all nations vied.
To-day her population does not exceed twenty
million, but there flows through the harbor gates,
which Hudson, the penniless pilot dreamer, discov-
ered, the commerce of a hundred million people.
It is no straining to say that individual fortunes
have been made in the traffic of New York harbor
which exceed the national incomes of Spain and
Holland and Belgium combined. But if a city's
greatness consists in something more than volume of
wealth and volume of traffic; if it consists in high
endeavor an(} self-sacrifice and the pursuit of ideals
to the death, Hudson, the dreamer, beset by rascal
mutineers and pursuing his aim in spite of all diffi-
culties, embodied in himself the qualities that go to
make true greatness.

Mist and heat haze hid the harbor till ten next
morning. The Half Moon then glided a pace in-
land. Three great rivers seemed to open before her

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— ^the Hudson, East River and one of the channels
round Staten Island. On fhe 4th, while the small
boat went ahead to sound, some sailors rowed ashore
to fish. Tradition says that the first white men to
set foot on New York harbor landed on Coney Island,
though there is no proof it was not Staten Island,
for the ship lay anchored beside both. The wind
blew so hard this night that the anchor dragged over
bottom and the Halj Moon poked her prow into
the sands of Staten Island, "&irf took no hurt, thanks
be to Godj^ adds Juet.

Signal fires — ^burning driftwood and flames shot
up through hollow trees — had rallied the Indian
tribes to the marvel of the house afloat on the sea.
Objects like beings from heaven seemed to live on
the house — so the poor Indians thought, and they
began burning sacrificial fires and sent runners beat-
ing up the wise men of all the tribes. A religious
dance was begun typifying welcome. Spies watch-
ing through the foliage came back with word that
one of the Manitous was chief of all the rest, for he
was dressed in a bright scarlet cloak with something
on it bright as the sun — they did not know a name
for gold lace worn by Hudson as commander. When
the Manitou with the gold lace went ashore at Rich-
mond, Staten Island, Indian legend says that the
chiefs gathered round in a circle under the oaks and

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chanted an ode of welcome to the rhythmic measures
of a dance. The natives accompanied Hudson back to
the Half Moan with gifts of maize and tobacco — "a
friendly people,^^ Hudson's manuscript describes them.
Two days passed in the Narrows with interchange
of gifts between whites and Indians. On the morn-
ing of the 6th, Hudson sent Colman and four men to
sound what is now known as Hell Gate. The sailors
went on to the Battery — the southernmost point of
New York City as it is to-day — finding lands pleasant
with grass and flowers and goodly oaks, the air crisp
with the odor of autumn woods. With the yellow
sun aslant the painted autumn forests, it was easy
to forget time. The day passed in idle wanderings.
At dusk rain began to fall. This extinguished "the
match-lighters" of the men's muskets. Launching
their boat again, they were rowing back to the Half
Moon through a rain fine as mist when two canoes
with a score of warriors suddenly emerged from the
dusk. Both parties paused in mutual amazement.
Then the warriors uttered a shout and had dis-
charged a shower of arrows before the astonished
sailors could defend themselves. Was the attack a
chance encounter with hostiles, or had "the moccasin
tel^am " brought news of the murderous raid on the
Penobscot? One sailor fell dead shot through the
throat. Two of the other four men were injured.

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The dead man was the Englishman, Cohnan. This
weakened Hudson against the Dutch mutineers.
Muskets were wet and useless. In the dark, the men
had lost the ship. The tide began to run with a
high wind. They threw out a grapnel. It did not
hold. All night in the rain and dark, the two unin-
jured men toiled at the oars to keep from drifting out
to sea. Daylight brought relief. The enemy had
retreated, and the Half Moon lay not far away. By
ten of the morning, they reached the ship. The dead
man was rowed ashore and buried at a place named
after him — Colman's Point. As the old Dutch maps
have a Colman's Punt marked at the upper end of
Sandy Hook, that is supposed to have been the burial
place. A wall of boards was now erected round the
decks of the Half Moon and men-at-arms kept posted.
Indians, who came to trade that day, aflFected igno-
rance of the attack but wanted knives for their furs.
Hudson was not to be tricked. He refused, and per-
mitted only two savages on board at a time. Two
he clothed in scarlet coats like his own, and kept on
board to guide him up the channel of the main river.
The farther he advanced, the higher grew the
shores. First were the ramparts, walls of rock,
topped by a fringe of blasted trees. Then the coves
where cities like Tarrytown nestle to-day. Then
the forested peaks of the Highlands and West Point

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and Poughkeepsie, with the oaks to the river's edge.
Mist hung m wreaths across the domed green of the
mountain called Old Anthony's Nose. Mountain
streams tore down to the river through a tangle of
evergreens, and in the crisp, nutty autumn air was
the all pervasive resinous odor of the pines. Moun-
tains along the Hudson, which to-day scarcely feel
the footfall of man except for the occasional hunter,
were in Hudson's time peopled by native mountain-
eers. From their eerie nests they could keep eagle
eye on all the surrounding country and swoop down
like birds of prey on all intruders. As the white sails
of the Half Moon rattled and shifted and flapped to
the wind tacking up the river, thin columns of smoke
rose from the heights around, lights flashed from peak
to peak like watch fires — the signals of the moun-
tameers. From the beginning of time they had dwelt
secure on these airy peaks. What invader was this,
gliding up the river-silences, sails spread like wings?

By the 13th of September, the Half Moon had
passed Yonkers. On the morning of the 15th, it
anchored within the shadow of the Catskills. On the
night of the 19th, it lay at poise on the amber swamps,
where the river widens near modem Albany. Either
their professions of friendship had been a farce
from the first, or they were afraid to be carried into
the land of the Mohawks, but the two savages

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

who had come as guides, sprang through the port-
hole near Catskill and swam ashore, running along
the banks shouting defiance.

Below Albany, Hudson went ashore with an old
chief of the country. ^^He was chief of forty men,^^
Hudson's manuscript records, ^^whom I saw in a
house of oak bark, circular in shape with arched roof.
It conUmt'Cd a great quantity of corn and beans, enough
to load three ships, besides what was growing in the
fields. On our coming into the house, two mats were
spread to sit upon and food was served in red wooden
bowls. Two men were dispatched in quest of game, whv
brought in a pair of pigeons. They likewise killed a fat
dog and skinned it with great haste with shells. The



Online LibraryAgnes Christina LautThe conquest of the great Northwest: being the story of the ..., Volumes 1-2 → online text (page 3 of 50)