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in of all nations to the number of 36 sails. But first the
General despatched a boat to give them knowledge of
his coming for no ill intent, having commission from her
Majesty for his voyage he had in hand; and immediately we
followed with a slack gale, and in the very entrance, which
is but narrow, not above two butts' length, 4 the Admiral fell
upon a rock on the larboard side by great oversight, in that
the weather was fair, the rock much above water fast by
the shore, where neither went any sea-gate. But we found
such readiness in the English merchants to help us in that
danger, that without delay there were brought a number of
boats, which towed off the ship, and cleared her of danger.

Having taken place convenient in the road, we let fall
anchors, the captains and masters repairing aboard our

* See First Series, p. liii. * Bow-shot. 6 Current.



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 287

Admiral; whither also came immediately the masters and
owners of the fishing fleet of Englishmen, to understand the
General's intent and cause of our arrival there. They were
all satisfied when the General had shewed his commission,
and purpose to take possession of those lands to the behalf
of the crown of England, and the advancement of the
Christian religion in those paganish regions, requiring but
their lawful aid for repairing of his fleet, and supply of some
necessaries, so far as conveniently might be afforded him,
both out of that and other harbours adjoining. In lieu
whereof he made offer to gratify them with any favour and
privilege, which upon their better advice they should demand,
the like being not to be obtained hereafter for greater price.
So craving expedition of his demand, minding to proceed
further south without long detention in those parts, he dis-
missed them, after promise given of their best endeavour
to satisfy speedily his so reasonable request. The merchants
with their masters departed, they caused forthwith to be
discharged all the great ordnance of their fleet in token of
our welcome.

It was further determined that every ship of our fleet
should deliver unto the merchants and masters of that harbour
a note of all their wants : which done, the ships,as well English
as strangers, were taxed at an easy rate to make supply.
And besides, commissioners were appointed, part of our own
company and part of theirs, to go into other harbours adjoin-
ing (for our English merchants command all there) to levy
our provision : whereunto the Portugals, above other nations,
did most willingly anl liberally contribute. In so much
as we were presented, above our allowance, with wines,
marmalades, most fine rusk 6 or biscuit, sweet oils, and sundry
delicacies. Also we wanted not of fresh salmons, trouts,
lobsters, and other fresh fish brought daily unto us. More-
over as the manner is in their fishing, every week to choose
their Admiral anew, or rather they succeed in orderly course,
and have weekly their Admiral's feast solemnized : even so
the General, captains, and masters of our fleet were con-
tinually invited and feasted. To grow short in our abun-
dance at home the entertainment had been delightful; but

8 Rusk (Sp. rosca)= ship's biscuit.



288 GILBERT'S VOYAGE

after our wants and tedious passage through the ocean,
it seemed more acceptable and of greater contentation, by
how much the same was unexpected in that desolate corner
of the world; where, at other times of the year, wild beasts
and birds have only the fruition of all those countries, which
now seemed a place very populous and much frequented.

The next morning being Sunday, and the fourth of August,
the General and his company were brought on land by
English merchants, who shewed unto us their accustomed
walks unto a place they call the Garden. But nothing ap-
peared more than nature itself without art: who confusedly
hath brought forth roses abundantly, wild, but odoriferous,
and to sense very comfortable. Also the like plenty of rasp-
berries, which do grow in every place.

Monday following, the General had his tent set up; who,
being accompanied with his own followers, summoned the
merchants and masters, both English and strangers, to be
present at his taking possession of those countries. Before
whom openly was read, and interpreted unto the strangers,
his commission : by virtue whereof he took possession in the
same harbour of St. John, and 200 leagues every way,
invested the Queen's Majesty with the title and dignity
thereof, had delivered unto him, after the custom of England,
a rod, and a turf of the same soil, entering possession also
for him, his heirs and assigns for ever; and signified unto
all men, that from that time forward, they should take the
same land as a territory appertaining to the Queen of
England, and himself authorised under her Majesty to pos-
sess and enjoy it, and to ordain laws for the government
thereof, agreeable, so near as conveniently might be, unto
the laws of England, under which all people coming thither
hereafter, either to inhabit, or by way of traffic, should be
subjected and governed. And especially at the same time for
a beginning, he proposed and delivered three laws to be in
force immediately. That is to say the first for religion,
which in public exercise should be according to the Church
of England. The second, for maintenance of her Majesty's
right and possession of those territories, against which if any
thing were attempted prejudicial, the party or parties offend-
ing should be adjudged and executed as in case of high



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 289

treason, according to the laws of England. The third, if
any person should utter words sounding to the dishonour of
her Majesty, he should lose his ears, and have his ship and
goods confiscate.

These contents published, obedience was promised by
general voice and consent of the multitude, as well of
Englishmen as strangers, praying for continuance of this
possession and government begun; after this, the assembly
was dismissed. And afterwards were erected not far from
that place the arms of England engraven in lead, and infixed
upon a pillar of wood. Yet further and actually to establish
this possession taken in the right of her Majesty, and to
the behoof of Sir Humfrey Gilbert, knight, his heirs and
assigns for ever, the General granted in fee-farm divers
parcels of land lying by the water-side, both in this harbour
of St. John, and elsewhere, which was to the owners a
great commodity, being thereby assured, by their proper
inheritance, of grounds convenient to dress and to dry their
fish; whereof many times before they did fail, being pre-
vented by them that came first into the harbour. For which
grounds they did covenant to pay a certain rent and service
unto Sir Humfrey Gilbert, his heirs or assigns for ever, and
yearly to maintain possession of the same, by themselves
or their assigns.

Now remained only to take in provision granted, according
as every ship was taxed, which did fish upon the coast adjoin-
ing. In the meanwhile, the General appointed men unto their
charge : some to repair and trim the ships, others to attend in
gathering together our supply and provisions: others to
search the commodities and singularities of the country, to
be found by sea or land, and to make relation unto the
General what either themselves could know by their own
travail and experience, or by good intelligence of English-
men or strangers, who had longest frequented the same
coast. Also some observed the elevation of the pole, and drew
plots of the country exactly graded. And by that I could
gather by each man's several relation, I have drawn a brief
description of the Newfoundland, with the commodities by
sea or land already made, and such also as are in possibility
and great likelihood to be made. Nevertheless the cards and

HCXXXIII (10)



290 GILBERT'S VOYAGE

plots that were drawn, with the due gradation of the har-
bours, bays, and capes, did perish with the Admiral : where-
fore in the description following, I must omit the particulars
of such things.

That which we do call the Newfoundland, and the French-
men Baccalaos, is an island, or rather, after the opinion of
some, it consisteth of sundry islands and broken lands, situ-
ate in the north regions of America, upon the gulf and
entrance of a great river called 57. Lawrence in Canada;
into the which, navigation may be made both on the south
and north side of this island. The land lieth south and
north, containing in length between 300 and 400 miles, ac-
counting from Cape Race, which is in 46 degrees 25 minutes,
unto the Grand Bay in 52 degrees, of septentrional latitude.
The land round about hath very many goodly bays and har-
bours, safe roads for ships, the like not to be found in any
part of the known world.

The common opinion that is had of intemperature and
extreme cold that should be in this country, as of some part
it may be verified, namely the north, where I grant it is more
cold than in countries of Europe, which are under the same
elevation: even so it cannot stand with reason and nature
of the clime, that the south parts should be so intemperate
as the bruit hath gone. For as the same do lie under the
climes of Bretagne, Anjou, Poictou in France, between 46
and 49 degrees, so can they not so much differ from the
temperature of those countries: unless upon the out-coast
lying open unto the ocean and sharp winds, it must indeed
be subject to more cold than further within the land, where
the mountains are interposed as walls and bulwarks, to
defend and to resist the asperity and rigour of the sea and
weather. Some hold opinion that the Newfoundland might
be the more subject to cold, by how much it lieth high and
near unto the middle region. I grant that not in Newfound-
land alone, but in Germany, Italy and Afric, even under the
equinoctial line, the mountains are extreme cold, and sel-
dom uncovered of snow, in their culm and highest tops,
which cometh to pass by the same reason that they are ex-
tended towards the middle region : yet in the countries lying
beneath them, it is found quite contrary. Even so, all hills



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 291

having their descents, the valleys also and low grounds must
be likewise hot or temperate, as the clime doth give in New-
foundland: though I am of opinion that the sun's reflection
is much cooled, and cannot be so forcible in Newfoundland,
nor generally throughout America, as in Europe or Afric:
by how much the sun in his diurnal course from east to west,
passeth over, for the most part, dry land and sandy coun-
tries, before he arriveth at the west of Europe or Afric,
whereby his motion increaseth heat, with little or no quali-
fication by moist vapours. Where [as], on the contrary, he
passeth from Europe and Afric unto America over the
ocean, from whence he draweth and carrieth with him
abundance of moist vapours, which do qualify and enfeeble
greatly the sun's reverberation upon this country chiefly of
Newfoundland, being so much to the northward. Never-
theless, as I said before, the cold cannot be so intolerable
under the latitude of 46, 47, and 48, especial within land, that
it should be unhabitable, as some do suppose, seeing also
there are very many people more to the north by a great deal.
And in these south parts there be certain beasts, ounces or
leopards, and birds in like manner, which in the summer we
have seen, not heard of in countries of extreme and vehe-
ment coldness. Besides, as in the months of June, July,
August and September, the heat is somewhat more than in
England at those seasons : so men remaining upon the south
parts near unto Cape Race, until after holland-tide, 7 have
not found the cold so extreme, nor much differing from the
temperature of England. Those which have arrived there
after November and December have found the snow exceed-
ing deep, whereat no marvel, considering the ground upon
the coast is rough and uneven, and the snow is driven into
the places most declining, as the like is to be seen with us.
The like depth of snow happily shall not be found within
land upon the plainer countries, which also are defended by
the mountains, breaking off the violence of winds and
weather. But admitting extraordinary cold in those south
parts, above that with us here, it cannot be so great as in
Swedeland, much less in Moscovia or Russia: yet are the
same countries very populous, and the rigour of cold is dis-

7 All-hallow-tide (November 1).



292 GILBERT'S VOYAGE

pensed with by the commodity of stoves, warm clothing,
meats and drinks : all of which need not to be wanting in
the Newfoundland, if we had intent there to inhabit.

In the south parts we found no inhabitants, which by all
likelihood have abandoned those coasts, the same being so
much frequented by Christians ; but in the north are savages
altogether harmless. Touching the commodities of this
country, serving either for sustentation of inhabitants or for
maintenance of traffic, there are and may be made divers;
so that it seemeth that nature hath recompensed that only
defect and incommodity of some sharp cold, by many bene-
fits; namely, with incredible quantity, and no less variety, of
kinds of fish in the sea and fresh waters, as trouts, salmons,
and other fish to us unknown ; 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 bays of Placentia and the Grand Bay,
where is made train oil of the whale; herring, the largest
that have been heard of, and exceeding the Marstrand her-
ring of Norway; but hitherto was never benefit taken of
the herring fishing. There are sundry other fish very deli-
cate, namely, the bonito, lobsters, turbot, with others infinite
not sought after; oysters having pearl but not orient in
colour ; I took it, by reason they were not gathered in season.

Concerning the inland commodities, as well to be drawn
from this land, as from the exceeding large countries ad-
joining, there is nothing which our east and northerly
countries of Europe do yield, but the like also may be made
in them as plentifully, by time and industry; namely, resin,
pitch, tar, soap-ashes, deal-board, masts for ships, hides, furs,
flax, hemp, corn, cables, cordage, linen cloth, metals, and
many more. All which the countries will afford, and the soil
is apt to yield. The trees for the most in those south parts
are fir-trees, pine, and cypress, all yielding gum and turpen-
tine. Cherry trees bearing fruit no bigger than a small pease.
Also pear-trees, but fruitless. Other trees of some sort to
us unknown. The soil along the coast is not deep of earth,
bringing forth abundantly peasen small, yet good feeding for
cattle. Roses passing sweet, like unto our musk roses in
form; raspises; a berry which we call whorts, good and



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 293

wholesome to eat. The grass and herb doth fat sheep in
very short space, proved by English merchants which have
carried sheep thither for fresh victual and had them raised
exceeding fat in less than three weeks. Peasen which our
countrymen have sown in the time of May, have come up
fair, and been gathered in the beginning of August, of which
our General had a present acceptable for the rareness, being
the first fruits coming up by art and industry in that desolate
and dishabited land. Lakes or pools of fresh water, both on
the tops of mountains and in the valleys ; in which are said to
be muscles not unlike to have pearl, which I had put in
trial, if by mischance falling unto me I had not been letted
from that and other good experiments I was minded to
make. Fowl both of water and land in great plenty and
diversity. All kind of green fowl ; others as big as bustards,
yet not the same. A great white fowl called of some a
gaunt. Upon the land divers sort of hawks, as falcons, and
others by report. Partridges most plentiful, larger than ours,
grey and white of colour, and rough-footed like doves, which
our men after one flight did kill with cudgels, they were so
fat and unable to fly. Birds, some like blackbirds, linnets,
canary birds, and other very small. Beasts of sundry kinds;
red deer, buffles, or a beast as it seemeth by the tract and foot
very large, in manner of an ox. Bears, ounces or leopards,
some greater and some lesser; wolves, foxes, which to the
northward a little further are black, whose fur is esteemed
in some countries of Europe very rich. Otters, beavers,
marterns ; and in the opinion of most men that saw it, the
General had brought unto him a sable alive, which he sent
unto his brother, Sir John Gilbert, Knight, of Devonshire,
but it was never delivered, as after I understood. We could
not observe the hundredth part of creatures in those un-
habited lands; but these mentioned may induce us to glorify
the magnificent God, who hath super-abundantly replenished
the earth with creatures serving for the use of man, though
man hath not used the fifth part of the same, which the
more doth aggravate the fault and foolish sloth in many
of our nation, choosing rather to live indirectly, and
very miserably to live and die within this realm pestered
with inhabitants, than to adventure as becometh men, to



294 GILBERT'S VOYAGE

obtain an habitation in those remote lands, in which nature
very prodigally doth minister unto men's endeavours, and
for art to work upon. For besides these already recounted
and infinite more, the mountains generally make shew of
mineral substance; iron very common, lead, and somewhere
copper. I will not aver of richer metals; albeit by the cir-
cumstances following, more than hope may be conceived
thereof.

For amongst other charges given to enquire out the
singularities of this country, the General was most curious
in the search of metals, commanding the mineral-man and
refiner especially to be diligent. The same was a Saxon 8
born, honest, and religious, named Daniel. Who after search
brought at first some sort of ore, seeming rather to be iron
than other metal. The next time he found ore, which with
no small show of contentment he delivered unto the General,
using protestation that if silver were the thing which might
satisfy the General and his followers, there it was, advising
him to seek no further; the peril whereof he undertook upon
his life (as dear unto him as the crown of England unto her
Majesty, that I may use his own words) if it fell not out
accordingly.

Myself at this instant liker to die than to live, by a mis-
chance, could not follow this confident opinion of our refiner
to my own satisfaction ; but afterward demanding our Gen-
real's opinion therein, and to have some part of the ore, he
replied, Content yourself, I have seen enough; and were it
but to satisfy my private humour, I would proceed no further.
The promise unto my friends, and necessity to bring also the
south countries within compass of my patent near expired, as
we have already done these north parts, do only persuade
me further. And touching the ore, I have sent it aboard,
whereof I would have no speech to be made so long as we
remain within harbour; here being both Portugals, Biscay-
ans, and Frenchmen, not far off, from whom must be kept
any bruit or muttering of such matter. When we are at sea,
proof shall be made; if it be our desire, we may return the
sooner hither again. Whose answer I judged reasonable,
and contenting me well ; wherewith I will conclude this nar-

8 Probably from the mining district of Lower Saxony.



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 295

ration and description of the Newfoundland, and proceed to
the rest of our voyage, which ended tragically.

While the better sort of us were seriously occupied in
repairing our wants, and contriving of matters for the com-
modity of our voyage, others of another sort and disposition
were plotting of mischief; some casting to steal away our
shipping by night, watching opportunity by the General's and
captains' lying on the shore; whose conspiracies discovered,
they were prevented. Others drew together in company, and
carried away out of the harbours adjoining a ship laden with
fish, setting the poor men on shore. A great many more of
our people stole into the woods to hide themselves, attending
time and means to return home by such shipping as daily
departed from the coast. Some were sick of fluxes, and
many dead; and in brief, by one means or other our com-
pany was diminished, and many by the General licensed to
return home. Insomuch as after we had reviewed our peo-
ple, resolved to see an end of our voyage, we grew scant of
men to furnish all our shipping; it seemed good therefore
unto the General to leave the Swallow with such provision as
might be spared for transporting home the sick people.

The captain of the Delight, or Admiral, returned into
England, in whose stead was appointed captain Maurice
Browne, before captain of the Swallow; who also brought
with him into the Delight all his men of the Swallow, which
before have been noted of outrage perpetrated and com-
mitted upon fishermen there met at sea.

The General made choice to go in his frigate the Squirrel,
whereof the captain also was amongst them that returned
into England; the same frigate being most convenient to
discover upon the coast, and to search into every harbour or
creek, which a great ship could not do. Therefore the
frigate was prepared with her nettings and fights, and over-
charged with bases and such small ordnance, more to give
a show, than with judgment to foresee unto the safety of
her and the men, which afterward was an occasion also of
their overthrow.

Now having made ready our shipping, that is to say, the
Delight, the Golden Hind, and the Squirrel, we put aboard
our provision, which was wines, bread or rusk, fish wet and



296 GILBERT'S VOYAGE

dry, sweet oils, besides many other, as marmalades, figs,
limons barrelled, and such like. Also we had other neces-
sary provisions for trimming our ships, nets and lines to fish
withal, boats or pinnaces fit for discovery. In brief, we were
supplied of our wants commodiously, as if we had been in
a country or some city populous and plentiful of all things.

We departed from this harbour of St. John's upon Tues-
day, the 20. of August, which we found by exact observation
to be in 47 degrees 40 minutes ; and the next day by night we
were at Cape Race, 25 leagues from the same harborough.
This cape lieth south-south-west from St. John's; it is a low
land, being off from the cape about half a league; within the
sea riseth up a rock against the point of the cape, which
thereby is easily known. It is in latitude 46 degrees 25
minutes. Under this cape we were becalmed a small time,
during which we laid out hooks and lines to take cod, and
drew in less than two hours fish so large and in such abun-
dance, that many days after we fed upon no other provision.
From hence we shaped our course unto the island of Sablon,
if conveniently it would so fall out, also directly to Cape
Breton.

Sablon lieth to the seaward of Cape Breton about 25
leagues, whither we were determined to go upon intelligence
we had of a Portugal, during our abode in St. John's, who
was himself present when the Portugals, above thirty years
past, did put into the same island both neat and swine to
breed, which were since exceedingly multiplied. This seemed
unto us very happy tidings, to have in an island lying so near
unto the main, which we intended to plant upon, such store
of cattle, whereby we might at all times conveniently be re-
lieved of victual, and served of store for breed.

In this course we trended along the coast, which from
Cape Race stretcheth into the north-west, making a bay which
some called Trepassa. 9 Then it goeth out again towards the
west, and maketh a point, which with Cape Race lieth in
manner east and west. But this point inclineth to the north,
to the west of which goeth in the Bay of Placentia. We sent
men on land to take view of the soil along this coast, whereof

9 From the Baie des Trepasses at the Pointe du Raz in Brittany, from
which Cape Race itself is named.



TO NEWFOUNDLAND 297

they made good report, and some of them had will to be
planted there. They saw pease growing in great abundance
everywhere.

The distance between Cape Race and Cape Breton is 87
leagues; in which navigation we spent eight days, having
many times the wind indifferent good, yet could we never
attain sight of any land all that time, seeing we were hindered
by the current. At last we fell into such flats and dangers,
that hardly any of us escaped; where nevertheless we lost



Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 26 of 35)