« AnteriorContinuar »
120 fathons, and there was plenty of drift-wood. For many weeks, he strove to extricate himself by following the tides and the occasional openings of the shoals of ice. But all his efforts proved ineffectual; and, on the 1st of November, his vessel was embayed and completely frozen in. The provisions being nearly gone, the crew had nothing but the prospect of starving, through cold and hunger, during a long and dreary winter. Insubordination had crept among them before; and, with the utmost difficulty, they were now restrained from breaking into actual mutiny. For several months, they liad to endure all sorts of privations. They caught a few fish, or killed some birds; yet they were often compelled to eat the most disgusting food, such as torpid frogs, dng up from the frozen ground. Several of the crew sickened and died. At last, after every thing was nearly consumed, the ice having now broken up, the ships began to weigh anchor and to work into open sea. But while the hardships seemed closing, a severer fate awaited Hudson, whose vehement or capricious temper had disgusted the bulk of his crew. Headed by the mate and a young volunteer whom he had especially patronized, they rose upon their commander, tied his hands, and thrusting him and eight sick men into the shallop, inhumanly turned it a-drift. Hudson and his unfortunate companions, thus abandoned with scarcely any supplies, must have soon perished from hunger and cold. The ringleaders of the mutiny, however, did not long enjoy the fruits of their crimes. After breaking up the chests and plundering the stores, they proceeded with the ship; but provoking the savages whom they met by their wanton license, they were killed in some sharp conflicts. The rest of the crew, with great difficulty, at length reached Galway Bay in Ireland.
The disasters of Hudson excited commiseration; and, in the following season, Captain Thomas Button, then in the service of Prince Henry, an experienced officer, afterwards knighted for his eminent services, was despatched with the Resolution and Discovery, to explore the scene of those calamities. Having selected skilful assistants, he sailed in the beginning of May 1612. He penetrated sonth-west into Hudson's Bay; but, having suffered severely from a violent storm on the 13th of August, he was obliged to seek a harbour for sheltering and refitting his ships. He had entered a small creek, in the latitude of 57° 10', which he called Port Nelson, when he was surprised by the sudden approach of winter. It being impossible now to escape, he secured his ships against accidents, by driving piles; le avoided the waste of provisions, by directing his crew to lay up a store of ptarmigans and wild grouse; and he prevental mutiny, by keeping them always employed, and assiguing to each man his particular task. On the 16th of February, the ice broke up in Nelson River; but the Bay was not quite clear till two months after. Button examined the west side, as high as the latitude of 65°; and he remarked a strong tide, which gave him hopes of a Northern passage. Having performed this survey, he arrived at London, after a short run, in Autumn 1613.
Sir Thomas Smith, and the rest of the Muscovy Company, in 1610, sent Jonas Poole, with a bark of 70 tons, to explore the Polar seas. He departed from Blackwall on the 1st of March, and, after surmounting the usual difficulties arising from foggy weather and shoals of ice, he ascended Davis's Strait as high, on the 16th of June, as the latitude of 79° 50', but observed a frozen sea extending northwards. In spite of all his endeavours, he found it impossible to make any farther progress; and, after various adventures with white bears, he returned to London in the end of August.
Poole was again despatched toward Greenland by the same Company, in the successive years 1611 and 1612. În the first of these voyages, he saw ice lying close to the land, beyond Spitzbergen, in the latitude of 80°, with a strong current, which rendered the approach very dangerous. In his last attempt, one of the ships which accompanied him pushed northwards two degrees beyond Hackluyt's Headland, to the parallel of 82°. A number of whales were killed during both voyages. But Poole, who seems to have been a faithful servant and enterprising mariner, was cut short in his career, being, soon after his return, basely murdered on the road between Ratcliff and London.
In 1612, the same companies engaged Hall, who had visited Greenland before in the service of the King of Denmark; and William Baffin, a very skilful mariner, acted as mate. On the 22d of July, Hall entered Ramelsfiord, in the latitude of 67°, and began to look after the silver mine; but, on his return to the ship, the natives crowding round, and carrying on an active barter, one of them, whose brother it was suspected had formerly been stolen by the Captain, came unperceived behind him, and took fell revenge by striking him a mortal blow with a spear. All traffic being stopped by this fatal accident, and the supposed ore being found to be of no value, it was now resolved to return home. After experiencing much foggy and blowing weather, the ships made the Orkneys on the 8th of September, and arrived at Hull in seven days more.
On the 16th of April 1614, Robert Fotherbye sailed from Gravesend, in a fleet of eleven ships, destined for Greenland. On the 25th of May, having reached the latitude of 75° 10', they were all enclosed by drift ice. But they worked out of it, and advanced to Maudlen Sound, in the latitude of 79° 34'. Fotherbye, and Baffin who accompanied him, endeavoured to explore the icy girdle in a boat; but they could find no outlet, or get any higher than the latitude of 79° 54'. All beyond them appeared ice, stretching eight leagues from the shore. On the 15th of August, there was a very heavy fall of snow, and the sea began to freeze. The weather moderated afterwards, but it was now full time to think of returning home.
The following year, Fotherbye was again despatched to Greenland by the Muscovy Company. Having advanced to the latitude of 79° 10', he was embayed with ice; but scarcely had he escaped this danger, than he was a second time encompassed in the latitude of 78° 30' and overtaken besides by a terrible storm. He was at last disentangled, however; but, the thick fogs and frequent shoals of ice prevented him from making any farther progress, and gave him very faint hopes of the possibility of discovering a passage,
In 1614, Gibbons had likewise been sent out in the Discovery: but near the mouth of Hudson's Strait, he was suddenly encompassed with ice, and driven by winds and currents into a bay in the latitude of 583°, on the coast of Labrador, where he was obliged to lie ten weeks exposed to the most imminent danger. Having at length escaped, he was glad to shape his course directly for England, without attempting any further enterprise.
In 1615, Sir Dudley Digges, Alderman Jones, and other adventurers, not disheartened by the various former failures, resolved to renew the attempt of exploring the Arctic seas. They gave the command of the Discovery, a ship of 55 tons, to Robert Bileth, who had performed three voyages before to the north, and appointed William Baffin to serve as mate or pilot, with a crew of fourteen men and two boys. On the 16th of April, they sailed from Blackwall, and reached Cape Farewell on the 6th of May. As usual, they were much annoyed in their farther progress with dense fogs and numerous shoals of ice. On the 27th of May, the sleet froze on the shrowds and tackling ; but the weather at last clearing up, they saw the Resolution Islands, which appeared to be uninhabited. Sailing northwards through the drift ice, they came to a cluster of islands in the latitude of 62° 30', where they heard the howling and barking of dogs, and perceived, on landing, the tents, boats and canoes of the natives, who seemed to avoid all sort of intercourse. The weather being thick and hazy, rendered the farther navigation dangerous. There was besides a heavy swell from the west; but on the 12th of July, they reached, in the latitude of 65°, a head land which they called Cape Comfort. On doubling this point, they had the mortification to see land again trending to the west, and immense bodies of ice. It was resolved, therefore, to desist from any farther search for a passage, and from the latitude of 65° 26' and 86° 10' of west longitude, they bent their course homewards. During the next fortnight, they sailed through innumerable hills of ice crowded with walruses. On the 5th of August, they returned to Resolution Island, and reached Cape Clear on the 6th of September.
In the following season, the same company sent the Discovery under Bileth again into the Arctic seas, the intelligent Baffin still acting as pilot. His instructions were, to proceed along the coast of Greenland and up Davis's Strait as high if possible as the parallel of 80°; and then, that he should avoid the danger of being embayed, by shaping a westerly and southerly course, till he came to the latitude of 60°, thence work his way for the land of Yedzo or Japan. The ship started from Gravesend on the 26th of March, sailed down the Channel and round to Dartmouth, where she was detained eleven days by foul weather and westerly winds. On the 20th of April, she again put to sea, and after a good passage reached, on the 14th of May, the coast of Greenland, at the parallel of 65° 20'. Some of the natives who were fishing, accompanied the ship for a considerable space, and appeared much disappointed that she did not come to anchor. But Baffin still plied northwards, till, on the 20th of May, he reached a fair sound in the latitude of 70° 20'. Here he stopped two days; but going ashore, he perceived that the natives had fled with their boats, leaving only a few dogs running about the island. Resuming his northerly course, he met large shoals of ice, which he cleared with difficulty on the 1st of June, and saw some inhabited islands in the latitude of 72° 45'. The wind proving contrary, the Captain and part of his crew took the opportunity of landing, but they found only four or five women concealed among the rocks. By friendly signs, however, and presents of old iron, the English quieted their fears, and procured some useful articles in barter.. The younger women ventured to come on board the ship, and expressed great astonishment at what they saw; yet, after tasting, they refused to eat the victuals offered to them. On the 4th of June, Baffin sailed again, but met with such quantities of thick ice, that, having on the 9th reached the parallel of 74° 4', he was forced to bear away towards the west, and anchored among some islands at the latitude of 73° 45'. Here he staid six days; and the weather being almost calm, he traded with the natives. On the 18th of June, he again put to sea; and traversing with light
airs, he had the satisfaction to perceive, that now the floating ice was nearly consumed. Yet few days passed without snow and keen frost; so that the shrouds, ropes and sails, were often covered with ice. On the 1st of July, he came to an open sea in the latitude of 75° 40'; but the wind turning a-head, he stood out 20 leagues from the shore, and again fell in with ice. He now put back, and was driven northwards in a thick fog, till he reached a cape in the latitude of 76° 35'; and, passing through a fine sound, he dropped both anchors under an island. The storm having abated, he tried to discover a better anchorage, but could not approach the shore on account of the ice, which blocked it up. He saw here multitudes of whales; and hence called this sound, which lies in the latitude of 77° 30', Whales' Sound. Before him, he descried, on the north, a great bank of ice, terminated with land, extending beyond the parallel of 78 degrees. He therefore fell back about eight leagues to an island which he called Hackluyt's Isle. Two days he searched for anchoring ground without success; yet he had an opportunity of observing the variation of the magnetic needle, and was astonished to find it amounted to five points. He remarked a cluster of small islands, but could not examine them, having been driven westwards by a strong gale into an open sea. At the latitude of 74° 20', he entered, on the 12th of July, another sound, which, being close guarded with ice, precluded the hope of a passage. He now sailed southwards, keeping as near as possible to the ledge of the ice, but could not get sight of the land before he came, on the 20th of July, to the parallel of 68°; and even then, he could not approach within eight or nine leagues of the shore. Still attempting to master the shoals of ice, he descended to the latitude of 65° 40', till, seeing no prospect of success, and the crew beginning to grow sickly, he left in despair the west side of Davis's Strait, and bore away for Greenland, which he reached on the 28th of July, at the latitude of 65° 45'. Landing there on a small island, his sailors gathered sorrel and scurvy grass, which they boiled in their beer; and with this drink they were restored to perfect health in the space of eight or nine days. The natives brought dried salmon for sale at different times, till the 6th of August, when Baffin took his departure. The wind was so favourable, that in nineteen days he saw the coast of Ireland, and came to anchor in Dover Roads on the 30th of August.
Next year, with some English whalers, he performed a suceessful voyage to Greenland, and ascended, on the 12th of August, as high as the latitude of 79° 14'. This last voyage of Baffin was certainly the most remarkable that has ever been