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proceedings in that action; in which the gentleman was so
unfortunately encumbered with wants, and worse matched
with many ill-disposed people, that his rare judgment and
regiment premeditated for those affairs was subjected to
tolerate abuses, and in sundry extremities to hold on a course
more to uphold credit than likely in his own conceit happily
to succeed.

The issue of such actions, being always miserable, not
guided by God, who abhorreth confusion and disorder, hath
left this for admonition, being the first attempt by our
nation to plant, unto such as shall take the same cause in
hand hereafter, not to be discouraged from it; but to make
men well advised how they handle His so high and excel-
lent matters, as the carriage is of His word into those very
mighty and vast countries. An action doubtless not to be


intermeddled with base purposes, as many have made the
same but a colour to shadow actions otherwise scarce
justifiable; which doth excite God's heavy judgments in the
end, to the terrifying of weak minds from the cause, with-
out pondering His just proceedings; and doth also incense
foreign princes against our attempts, how just soever, who
cannot but deem the sequel very dangerous unto their state
(if in those parts we should grow to strength), seeing the
very beginnings are entered with spoil.

And with this admonition denounced upon zeal towards
God's cause, also towards those in whom appeareth dis-
position honourable unto this action of planting Christian
people and religion in those remote and barbarous nations of
America (unto whom I wish all happiness), I will now pro-
ceed to make relation briefly, yet particularly, of our voyage
undertaken with Sir Humfrey Gilbert, begun, continued, and
ended adversely.

When first Sir Humfrey Gilbert undertook the western
discovery of America, and had procured from her Majesty
a very large commission to inhabit and possess at his choice
all remote and heathen lands not in the actual possession of
any Christian prince, the same commission exemplified with
many privileges, such as in his discretion he might demand,
very many gentlemen of good estimation drew unto him, to
associate him in so commendable an enterprise, so that the
preparation was expected to grow unto a puissant fleet, able
to encounter a king's power by sea. Nevertheless, amongst
a multitude of voluntary men, their dispositions were diverse,
which bred a jar, and made a division in the end, to the
confusion of that attempt even before the same was begun.
And when the shipping was in a manner prepared, and men
ready upon the coast to go aboard, at that time some brake
consort, and followed courses degenerating from the voyage
before pretended. Others failed of their promises con-
tracted, and the greater number were dispersed, leaving the
General with few of his assured friends, with whom he ad-
ventured to sea; where, having tasted of no less misfortune,
he was shortly driven to retire home with the loss of a tall
ship and, more to his grief, of a valiant gentleman, Miles


Having buried, only in a preparation, a great mass of
substance, whereby his estate was impaired, his mind yet
not dismayed, he continued his former designment, and pur-
posed to revive this enterprise, good occasion serving. Upon
which determination standing long without means to satisfy
his desire, at last he granted certain assignments out of his
commission to sundry persons of mean ability, desiring the
privilege of his grant, to plant and fortify in the north parts
of America about the river of Canada; to whom if God gave
good success in the north parts (where then no matter of
moment was expected), the same, he thought, would greatly
advance the hope of the south, and be a furtherance unto
his determination that way. And the worst that might
happen in that course might be excused, without prejudice
unto him, by the former supposition that those north regions
were of no regard. But chiefly, a possession taken in any
parcel of those heathen countries, by virtue of his grant, did
invest him of territories extending every way 200 leagues ;
which induced Sir Humfrey Gilbert to make those assign-
ments, desiring greatly their expedition, because his com-
mission did expire after six years, if in that space he had
not gotten actual possession.

Time went away without anything done by his assigns ;
insomuch that at last he must resolve himself to take a
voyage in person, for more assurance to keep his patent in
force, which then almost was expired or within two years.
In furtherance of his determination, amongst others, Sir
George Peckham, Knight, shewed himself very zealous to the
action, greatly aiding him both by his advice and in the
charge. Other gentlemen to their ability joined unto him,
resolving to adventure their substance and lives in the same
cause. Who beginning their preparation from that time,
both of shipping, munition, victual, men, and things requisite,
some of them continued the charge two years complete with-
out intermission. Such were the difficulties and cross acci-
dents opposing these proceedings, which took not end in less
than two years; many of which circumstances I will omit.

The last place of our assembly, before we left the coast
of England, was in Cawset Bay, near unto Plymouth, then
resolved to put unto the sea with shipping and provision such


as we had, before our store yet remaining, but chiefly the
time and season of the year, were too far spent. Neverthe-
less, it seemed first very doubtful by what way to shape our
course, and to begin our intended discovery, either from the
south northward or from the north southward. The first,
that is, beginning south, without all controversy was the
likeliest; wherein we were assured to have commodity of the
current which from the Cape of Florida setteth northward,
and would have furthered greatly our navigation, discover-
ing from the foresaid cape along towards Cape Breton, and
all those lands lying to the north. Also, the year being far
spent, and arrived to the month of June, we were not to
spend time in northerly courses, where we should be sur-
prised with timely winter, but to covet the south, which we
had space enough then to have attained, and there might
with less detriment have wintered that season, being more
mild and short in the south than in the north, where winter
is both long and rigorous. These and other like reasons
alleged in favour of the southern course first to be taken, to
the contrary was inferred that forasmuch as both our vic-
tuals and many other needful provisions were diminished
and left insufficient for so long a voyage and for the win-
tering of so many men, we ought to shape a course most
likely to minister supply; and that was to take the New-
foundland in our way, which was but 700 leagues from our
English coast. Where being usually at that time of the
year, and until the fine of August, a multitude of ships re-
pairing thither for fish, we should be relieved abundantly
with many necessaries, which, after the fishing ended, they
might well spare and freely impart unto us. Not staying
long upon that Newland coast, we might proceed southward,
and follow still the sun, until we arrived at places more
temperate to our content.

By which reasons we were the rather induced to follow
this northerly course, obeying unto necessity, which must
be supplied. Otherwise, we doubted that sudden approach
of winter, bringing with it continual fog and thick mists,
tempest and rage of weather, also contrariety of currents
descending from the Cape of Florida unto Cape Breton and
Cape Race, would fall out to be great and irresistible im-


pediments unto our further proceeding for that year, and
compel us to winter in those north and cold regions. Where-
fore, suppressing all objections to the contrary, we resolved
to begin our course northward, and to follow, directly as
we might, the trade way unto Newfoundland; from whence,
after our refreshing and reparation of wants, we intended
without delay, by God's permission, to proceed into the
south, not omitting any river or bay which in all that large
tract of land appeared to our view worthy of search. Im>
mediately we agreed upon the manner of our course and
orders to be observed in our voyage ; which were delivered
in writing, unto the captains and masters of every ship a
copy, in manner following.

Every ship had delivered two bullets or scrolls, the one
sealed up in wax, the other left open ; in both which were
included several watchwords. That open, serving upon our
own coast or the coast of Ireland; the other sealed, was
promised on all hands not to be broken up until we should
be clear of the Irish coast; which from thenceforth did
serve until we arrived and met all together in such harbours
of the Newfoundland as were agreed for our rendez-vous.
The said watchwords being requisite to know our consorts
whensoever by night, either by fortune of weather, our fleet
dispersed should come together again ; or one should hail
another; or if by ill watch and steerage one ship should
chance to fall aboard of another in the dark.

The reason of the bullet sealed was to keep secret that
watchword while we were upon our own coast, lest any of
the company stealing from the fleet might bewray the same ;
which known to an enemy, he might board us by night
without mistrust, having our own watchword.

Orders agreed upon by the Captains and Masters to be
observed by the Heet of Sir Humfrey Gilbert.

First, The Admiral to carry his flag by day, and his
light by night.

2. Item, if the Admiral shall shorten his sail by night,
then to shew two lights until he be answered again by every
ship shewing one light for a short time.


3. Item, if the Admiral after his shortening of sail, as
aforesaid, shall make more sail again ; then he to shew three
lights one above another.

4. Item, if the Admiral shall happen to hull in the night,
then to make a wavering light over his other light, wavering
the light upon a pole.

5. Item, if the fleet should happen to be scattered by
weather, or other mishap, then so soon as one shall descry
another, to hoise both topsails twice, if the weather will
serve, and to strike them twice again; but if the weather
serve not, then to hoise the maintopsail twice, and forthwith
to strike it twice again.

6. Item, if it shall happen a great fog to fall, then presently
every ship to bear up with the Admiral, if there be wind;
but if it be a calm, then every ship to hull, and so to lie at
hull till it clear. And if the fog do continue long, then the
Admiral to shoot off two pieces every evening, and every
ship to answer it with one shot; and every man bearing to
the ship that is to leeward so near as he may.

7. Item, every master to give charge unto the watch to look
out well, for laying aboard one of another in the night, and
in fogs.

8. Item, every evening every ship to hail the Admiral, and
so to fall astern him, sailing thorough the ocean ; and being
on the coast, every ship to hail him both morning and

9. Item, if any ship be in danger in any way, by leak or
otherwise, then she to shoot off a piece, and presently to hang
out one light; whereupon every man to bear towards her,
answering her with one light for a short time, and so to
put it out again; thereby to give knowledge that they have
seen her token.

10. Item, whensoever the Admiral shall hang out her en-
sign in the main shrouds, then every man to come aboard
her as a token of counsel.

11. Item, if there happen any storm or contrary wind to the
fleet after the discovery, whereby they are separated; then
every ship to repair unto their last good port, there to meet


Our Course agreed upon.

The course first to be taken for the discovery is to bear
directly to Cape Race, the most southerly cape of Newfound-
land; and there to harbour ourselves either in Rogneux or
Fermous, being the first places appointed for our rendez-
vous, and the next harbours unto the northward of Cape
Race: and therefore every ship separated from the fleet to
repair 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 days; and when you shall depart, to leave marks.

Beginning our course from Stilly, the nearest is by west-
south-west (if the wind serve) until such time as we have
brought ourselves in the latitude of 43 or 44 degrees, because
the ocean is subject much to southerly winds in June and
July. Then to take traverse from 45 to 47 degrees of lati-
tude, if we be enforced by contrary winds ; and not to go to
the northward of the height of 47 degrees of septentrional
latitude by no means, if God shall not enforce the contrary ;
but to do your endeavour to keep in the height of 46 degrees,
so near as you can possibly, because Cape Race lieth about
that height.


If by contrary winds we be driven back upon the coast of
England, then to repair unto Stilly for a place of our as-
sembly or meeting. If we be driven back by contrary winds
that we cannot pass the coast of Ireland, then the place of
our assembly to be at Bere haven or Baltimore haven. If
we shall not happen to meet at Cape Race, then the place of
rendez-vous to be at Cape Breton, or the nearest harbour
unto the westward of Cape Breton. If by means of other
shipping we may not safely stay there, then to rest at the
very next safe port to the westward ; every ship leaving their
marks behind them for the more certainty of the after
comers to know where to find them. The marks that every
man ought to leave in such a case, were of the General's
private device written by himself, sealed also in close wax,
and delivered unto every ship one scroll, which was not to be


opened until occasion required, whereby every man was
certified what to leave for instruction of after comers; that
every of us coming into any harbour or river might know
who had been there, or whether any were still there up
higher into the river, or departed, and which way.

Orders thus determined, and promises mutually given to
be observed, every man withdrew himself unto his charge ;
the anchors being already weighed, and our ships under
sail, having a soft gale of wind, we began our voyage upon
Tuesday, the n. day of June, in the year of our Lord 1583,
having in our fleet (at our departure from Cawset Bay)
these ships, whose names and burthens, with the names of
the captains and masters of them, I have also inserted, as
followeth: 1. The Delight, alias the George, of burthen 120
tons, was Admiral ; in which went the General, and William
Winter, captain in her and part owner, and Richard Clarke,
master. 2. The bark Raleigh, set forth by Master Walter
Raleigh, of the burthen of 200 tons, was then Vice- Admiral ;
in which went Master Butler, captain, and Robert Davis, of
Bristol, master. 3. The Golden Hind, of burthen 40 tons,
was then Rear- Admiral ; in which went Edward Hayes, cap-
tain and owner, and William Cox, of Limehouse, master.
4. The Swallow, of burthen 40 tons; in her was captain
Maurice Browne. 5. The Squirrel, of burthen 10 tons; in
which went captain William Andrews, and one Cade, master.
We were in number in all about 260 men ; among whom we
had of every faculty good choice, as shipwrights, masons,
carpenters, smiths, and such like, requisite to such an action;
also mineral men and refiners. Besides, for solace of our
people, and allurement of the savages, we were provided of
music in good variety ; not omitting the least toys, as morris-
dancers, hobby-horse, and May-like conceits to delight the
savage people, whom we intended to win by all fair means
possible. And to that end we were indifferently furnished
of all petty haberdashery wares to barter with those simple

In this manner we set forward, departing (as hath been
said) out of Cawset Bay the 11. day of June, being Tuesday,
the weather and wind fair and good all day; but a great


storm of thunder and wind fell the same night. Thursday
following, when we hailed one another in the evening,
according to the order before specified, they signified unto
us out of the Vice-Admiral, that both the captain, and very
many of the men, were fallen sick. And about midnight
the Vice-Admiral forsook us, notwithstanding we had the
wind east, fair and good. But it was after credibly re-
ported that they were infected with a contagious sickness,
and arrived greatly distressed at Plymouth; the reason I
could never understand. Sure I am, no cost was spared by
their owner, Master Raleigh, in setting them forth ; there-
fore I leave it unto God. By this time we were in 48 degrees
of latitude, not a little grieved with the loss of the most
puissant ship in our fleet; after whose departure the Golden
Hind succeeded in the place of Vice-Admiral, and removed
her flag from the mizen into the foretop. From Saturday,
the 15. of June, until the 28., which was upon a Friday, we
never had fair day without fog or rain, and winds bad,
much to the west-north-west, whereby we were driven south-
ward unto 41 degrees scarce.

About this time of the year the winds are commonly west
towards the Newfoundland, 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 June,
which in March, April, and May, hath been performed out
of England in 22 days and less. We had wind always so
scant from west-north-west, and from west-south-west again,
that our traverse was great, running south unto 41 degrees
almost, and afterwards north into 51 degrees. Also we
were encumbered with much fog and mists in manner
palpable, in which we could not keep so well together, but
were dissevered, losing the company of the Swallow and
the Squirrel upon the 20. day of July, whom we met again
at several places upon the Newfoundland coast the 3. of
, August, as shall be declared in place convenient. Saturday,
the 27. July, we might descry, not far from us, as it were
mountains of ice driven upon the sea, being then in 50
degrees, which were carried southward to the weather of
us; whereby may be conjectured that some current doth set
that way from the north.


Before we come to Newfoundland, about 50 leagues on
this side, we pass the bank, which are high grounds rising
within the sea and under water, yet deep enough and with-
out danger, being commonly not less than 25 and 30 fathom
water upon them; the same, as it were some vein of moun-
tains within the sea, do run along and from the Newfound-
land, beginning northward about 52 or 53 degrees of latitude,
and do extend into the south infinitely. The breadth of this
bank is somewhere more, and somewhere less ; but we found
the same about ten leagues over, having sounded both on
this side thereof, and the other toward Newfoundland, but
found no ground with almost 200 fathom of line, both before
and after we had passed the bank. The Portugals, and
French chiefly, have a notable trade of fishing upon this
bank, where are sometimes an hundred or more sails of ships,
who commonly begin the fishing in April, and have ended
by July. That fish is large, always wet, having no land near
to dry, and is called cod fish. During the time of fishing,
a man shall know without sounding when he is upon the bank,
by the incredible multitude of sea-fowl hovering over the
same, to prey upon the offals and garbage of fish thrown
out by fishermen, and floating upon the sea.

Upon Tuesday, the 11. of June we forsook the coast of
England. So again [on] Tuesday, the 30. of July, seven
weeks after, we got sight of land, being immediately embayed
in the Grand Bay, or some other great bay; the certainty
whereof we could not judge, so great haze and fog did hang
upon the coast, as neither we might discern the land well,
nor take the sun's height. But by our best computation we
were then in the 51 degrees of latitude. Forsaking this bay
and uncomfortable coast (nothing appearing unto us but
hideous rocks and mountains, bare of trees, and void of any
green herb) we followed the coast to the south, with weather
fair and clear. We had sight of an island named Penguin,
of a fowl there breeding in abundance almost incredible,
which cannot fly, their wings not able to carry their body,
being very large (not much less than a goose) and exceeding
fat, which the Frenchmen use to take without difficulty
upon that island, and to barrel them up with salt. But for
lingering of time, we had made us there the like provision.


Trending this coast, we came to the island called
Baccalaos, being not past two leagues from the main; to the
south thereof lieth Cape St. Francis, five 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 again, whom we had lost in the fog, and all
her men altered into other apparel ; whereof it seemed their
store was so amended, that for joy and congratulation of
our meeting, they spared not to cast up into the air and over-
board their caps and hats in good plenty. The captain,
albeit himself was very honest and religious, yet was he not
appointed of men to his humour and desert; who for the
most part were such as had been by us surprised upon the
narrow seas of England, being pirates, and had taken at
that instant certain Frenchmen laden, one bark with wines,
and another with salt. Both which we rescued, and took the
man-of-war with all her men, which was the same ship now
called the Swallow; following still their kind so oft as,
being separated from the General, they found opportunity
to rob and spoil. And because God's justice did follow the
same company, even to destruction, and to the overthrow
also of the captain (though not consenting to their mis-
demeanour) I will not conceal anything that maketh to
the manifestation and approbation of His judgments, for
examples of others ; persuaded that God more sharply took
revenge upon them, and hath tolerated longer as great out-
rage in others, by how much these went under protection
of His cause and religion, which was then pretended.

Therefore upon further enquiry it was known how this
company met with a bark returning home after the fish-
ing with his freight; and because the men in the Swallow
were very near scanted of victuals, and chiefly of apparel,
doubtful withal where or when to find and meet with their
Admiral, they besought the captain that they might go
aboard this Newlander, only to borrow what might be spared,
the rather because the same was bound homeward. Leave
given, not without charge to deal favourably, they came
aboard the fisherman, whom they rifled of tackle, sails, cables,
victuals, and the men of their apparel ; not sparing by tor-
ture, winding cords about their heads, to draw out else what


they thought good. This done with expedition, like men skil-
ful in such mischief, as they took their cockboat to go aboard
their own ship, it was overwhelmed in the sea, and certain
of these men there drowned; the rest were preserved even
by those silly souls whom they had before spoiled, who saved
and delivered them aboard the Swallow. What became
afterwards of the poor Newlander, perhaps destitute of sails
and furniture sufficient to carry them home, whither they
had not less to run than 700 leagues, God alone knoweth ;
who took vengeance not long after of the rest that escaped
at this instant, to reveal the fact, and justify to the world
God's judgments inflicted upon them, as shall be declared
in place convenient.

Thus after we had met with the Swallow, we held on our
course southward, until we came against the harbour called
St. John, about five leagues from the former Cape of St.
Francis, where before the entrance into the harbour, we
found also the frigate or Squirrel lying at anchor ; whom the
English merchants, that were and always be Admirals by
turns interchangeably over the fleets of fishermen within the
same harbour, would not permit to enter into the harbour.
Glad of so happy meeting, both of the Swallow and frigate
in one day, being Saturday, the third of August, we made
ready our fights, 8 and prepared to enter the harbour, any
resistance to the contrary notwithstanding, there being with-

Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 25 of 35)