Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

sea. He observed that those hardy savages lived almost constantly in their canoes, and that they fed on raw fish, drank salt water, and ate grass and ice with delight. Their arms were darts, bows and arrows, and slings. They showed a disposition to petty theft; and his crew, beginning to complain that lenity had only encouraged their insolence, he was obliged to make a show of employing severer measures.

This intelligent captain sailed along the coast, exploring it carefully as he advanced. On the 17th of July, he encountered an immense body of ice in the latitude of 63° 8'; and he spent nearly a fortnight in passing it, the weather being excessively foggy, and his ropes and sails all frozen. On the 1st of August, he descried the American coast, at the parallel of 66° 33', and found an excellent roadstead. Here he was now much annoyed with heat and with muskitos. The native Esquimaux were very obliging, and bartered their commodities. They resembled the Greenlanders in their general appearance, but spoke with a clearer intonation.

Davis now sailed southwards, following the direction of the coast till he came to the latitude of 56°, where he anchored, and found the country for many miles covered with forests of pine, alder, willow, and birch. He saw likewise large flights of various birds and wildfowl. The numerous islands which he had met with during this run, encouraged the hope of discovering the desired passage; which expectation was farther corroborated by what he perceived at another place where he touched, in the latitude of 54°. After having lost two of his men, who were unfortunately shot by the savages from an ambush, and having suffered severely from a dreadful storm, which lasted several days, he at last set sail with a fair wind on the 11th of September, and arrived on the west of England in the beginning of the following month.

While Davis thus explored the west side of the Strait which bears his name, he directed the other ships to sail up the Greenland sea, and seek for a passage on the north side of Iceland. Having reached that station, they held a northwesterly course from the 16th of June to the 3d of July, when they found themselves enclosed between two fields of ice. They now turned back, and saw Greenland rising high, and looking very blue; but they could gain no harbour, since a rampart of firm ice, at least three leagues in breadth, extended along the whole coast. Sóll keeping sight of land, they doubled Cape Farewell, and ascended as far as their former haven, in the latitude of 64o. There they traded with the natives, till an accidental quarrel krose, which occasioned some bloodshed. On the last day of

August, they departed for England, and arrived safely in the Thames on the 6th of October.

On the 9th of May 1587, Davis sạiled again with the same vessels, for the double purpose of trading in skins, and of discovering the north-west passage. On the 20th of June, he reached, as formerly, the islands opposite to Baal's river, in the latitude of 6+'. But the natives had now become so bold and outrageous, as to tear his pinnace in pieces, merely for the sake of the iron. Thence pursuing his voyage, he saw great plenty of whales in the latitude of 67° 40', and had some traffic with the numerous canoes which he met. On the 30th, he ascertained, by observation, that he was in the latitude of 72° 12', and found the sea quite open, as far as his vision could reach, to the north and the west. But a strong northerly wind having sprung up, obliged him reluctantly to put back. He now bore away to the Ainerican coast, his progress being much impeded by excessive fogs ar d numerous shoals of ice. On the 13th of July, the natives crowded with their canoes from the shore, and he landed at the latitude of 68°, the weather having now become oppressively hot. During the rest of the month, he sailed along the coast, touching occasionally, till he descended to the latitude of 62, where he found a large gulf, and a strong current running from the west, Hle pursued the same track about a fortnight longer, though he met with frequent islands of ice; and, on the 15th of August, at the latitude of 52°, his vessel being leaky, and his provisions falling short, he departed for England; and, after much variable weather, he arrived at Dartmouth on the 15th of September.

The discoveries made by Davis in the Arctic Seas, though they failed in attaining the main object, were, on the whole, extremely important. But nothing more was attempted from England for many years.

At last the Russia and Turkey Companies resolved to send, at their joint expense, an expedition to explore the northwest passage. Accordingly, on the 2d of May 1602, George Weymouth sailed from Radcliff

, with two fly-boats, the Discovery of 70 tons, and the Godspeed of 60 tons, victualled for eighteen months, and carrying 35 men besides boys. On the 22d of June, he got sight of Čape Desolation, in Greenland, at the latitude of 60° 37'; and, steering nearly on the same course, he descried, in six days more, the bold shore of America at the parallel of 62° 30'. He now pushed northwards along the coast, in spite of the thick fog and the numerous banks of ice which he encountered. The cold was often so piercing, that the mist froze as it touched the rigging, and the sails and cordage became encrusted with thick ice. On the 20th of July, Wil loughby having reached the latititude of 68° 53', his crew, filled with alarms, secretly mutinied, and put back the helm during the night. Willoughby succeeded in restoring discipline, yet saw himself obliged, by circumstances, to continue a southerly course. Two days after, the sea being quite calm and smooth, he sent a boat to procure a supply of ice from a floating island: it seemed as hard as a rock, but, after a few strokes, the whole mass, shaken by the internal tremor, was rent with a noise like thunder, and precipitated into the deep. About the latitude of 55°, he perceived, on the 16th of August, low land, girt with pleasant islands; and here he thought a passage might be found. But a violent storm arose, which drove him homewards, and, on the 4th of September, he was forced to put into Dartmouth.

The King of Denmark being now desirous of making similar discoveries, and valuing highly the skill of the British navigators, caused two ships and a pinnace to be got ready, and appointed John Cunningham a Scotchman, the chief captain, and James Hall an Englishman, the principal pilot; the rest of the com manders and the crew being, except John Knight the steersman, either Danes or Norwegians. This little squadron sailed from Copenhagen on the 2d May 1605, and on the 30th of that month descried the high and rugged cliffs of Greenland, in the latitude of 59° 50'; but found the shore inaccessible and full of ice. During three or four days following, the weather being very foggy, the ships were encompassed repeatedly with large islands of ice, drifting to the north-north-west, and making a hideous and grinding noise. Ranging along the coast, they met also with several immense banks of floating ice. But the seamen grew mutinous, and would not consent to proceed farther. On the 12th of June, the ships entered a bight, in latitude 66° 30'; and the captain and the pilot landed, and saw empty tents; the Greenlanders having run away through fear. Some intercourse afterwards took place with the natives, who must have thought themselves ill treated, however; for, in the sequel, they made a furious attack on the boats, with their bows and slings. The squadron was forced to put to sea; and, desisting from any farther prosecution of the voyage, returned to Copenhagen.

Not discouraged by this unpromising attempt, his Danish Majesty, the following year, despatched the same leaders, with four ships and a pinnace. They steered a north-westerly course, and were borne along by a strong current. On the 10th of July, they gained the American shore, at the parallel of 60° 16'. They now ranged northwards along the coast, which appeared high and rugged, covered with snow, and beset with ice, HayVOL. XXX. NO. 59.

D

ing worked through numerous huge mountains of ice, and reached the latitude of 63° 33' on the 21st of July, they bore away for Greenland, and got sight of it in six days. The bay which ireceived them was stadded with pleasant islands; they began a traffic of barter with the natives, and fancied they had disco vered a silver mine. The squadron spent nearly a month in exploring the coast; and saw numberless green islets, and frequent banks of ice. It then steered for the Faro Islands, and finally arrived at Copenhagen on the 4th of October 1606.

In the meanwhile, Knight, who had held a small command in the first Danish expedition, was sent again, at the joint expense of the Turkey and East India Companies of England, in à voyage to the North, with a pinnace of forty tons, which departed from Gravesend on the 18th of April 1606. After escaping many dangers amidst foggy weather, from immense shoals of ice, he descried, on the 19th of Junc, the coast of America, in the parallel of 56° 48'. Five days thereafter, it blew furiously from the north; and the vessel, being beset with islands of ice, drifted along, and unfortunately took the ground. In this perilous situation, Knight, with five of his men, launched the boat, and proceeded to a neighbouring island in search of some cave that might afford shelter for careening his bark; but the party, though well armed, were surprised, and miserably cut off by the natives. Not content with their advantage, those cruel savages attacked and attempted likewise to carry away the shallop. They were, however, by the firmness of the crew, fortunately repulsed; and, after six days' hard labour in cutting the ice with hatchets and pickaxes, the vessel was at last got clear. Having refitted her in the best way they could, they shaped their course, on the 5th of July, for Newfoundland; and, after they had effected the necessary repairs, they set sail again, and arrived at Dartmouth on the 24th of September.

In !607, the same company of London merchants gave the command of a ship, destined for

the discovery of the North-west passage, to Henry

Hudson, an active and enterprising navigator, who set sail from Gravesend on the 1st of May. Passing the Orkneys,

he saw, on the 11th of June, six or seven whales in the latitude of 67° 50'. Now shaping his course nearly north-east, he endeavoured to ascend the Greenland sea. In this attempt he had, for a whole month, to contend with very foggy weather, and frequent shoals of ice. On the 2d of July, he saw, in the latitude of 78° 56', land on the west side, but defended by an immense icy barrier. With much difficulty he escaped being embayed, and worked his way farther northwards, till, on the 15th of July, having reached the very high latitude of 811, he had the mortification to see his progress completely barred by the trending land, and a frozen sea. Hudson therefore turned back, and, after escaping many dangers from the shoals of ice, amidst foggy and tempestuous weather, he at last reached the Thames on the 15th of September. In the following year, having made an unsuccessful trial at Nova Zembla, the London Company were unwilling to defray the charge of renewing it. During both these voyages, he found always most drift ice when the water assumed a deep blue, inclining to black, and was hence of extreme depth; and the least of it where the sea looked green, and had therefore become shallow.

Hudson entered now into the service of the Dutch East India Company, and took his departure in a yacht from Amsterdam on the 25th March 1609. On the 21st of May, he doubled the North Cape, and, in spite of blowing and foggy weather, he advanced through shoals of ice to Nova Zembla ; but finding the sea frozen, he returned by the Faro Islands, touched at the Banks of Newfoundland, and approached the low sandy shore of America at the latitude of 43° 25'. Some of the savages came out with their canoes and traded with him; and at the latitude of 44° 1', he went into a larger river which still bears his name, and which gave occasion to the Dutch settlement of New York. Thence he sailed southwards along the coast, sometimes trading and often skirmishing with the natives, till, on the 26th, of August, he reached the Capes of Virginia. The weather continuing hot and misty, he spent some weeks in exploring the rivers and bays on that coast, and had several sharp conflicts with the Indians. On the 7th of November 1609, he safely arrived at Dartmouth.

Next year, the London Association despatched Hudson again to the North seas. On the 17th of April, he departed from Blackwall; on the 5th of May, he made the Orkneys, and reached Iceland on the 1st of June. He saw troops of whales, and for several days attempted in vain to approach the coast of Greenland, which appeared strongly girt with ice. He therefore bore away for Davis's Strait. By the end of June, he saw land in the parallel of 62°, but was impeded by mountains and islands of ice, one of which caused great alarm, by oversetting or revolving very near him. Continuing to ply forward, he had penetrated far into the Strait which bears his name, when he saw his vessel completely encompassed with ice. The crew was much disheartened; yet succeeded, with great labour, in approaching somewhat nearer to the shore. Hudson called the land, which rose high, and covered with snow, Desire Provoked. In the bay, some mountains of ice had taken ground at the depth of

D?

« AnteriorContinuar »