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The Northern coasts of America, and the Hudson's Bay territories : a narrative of discovery and adventure [Tytler, Patrick Fraser, 1791-1849] 1853

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The progress of Discovery has ever been regarded with
the deepest interest by mankind. Whether viewed with
reference to its bearing upon the commercial interests of
nations, its valuable additions to the acquisitions of science,
or regarded as bringing to light many of the hidden
wonders with which the Great and Good Creator has so
plentifully stored our world, it is fraught with interest and
instruction. Among the various Expeditions of Discovery
by land and sea, none have claimed our attention or
enlisted our sympathies more powerfully than those into
the Arctic Regions. Nowhere has the navigator to contend with difficulties so formidable; nowhere is nature
presented more vividly under so terrific and beautiful an
aspect—now howling in the fury of elemental strife, and
anon reposing in all the fairy-like brilliancy peculiar to
the icy oceans, of the north; and nowhere has been more .
strikingly exemplified at once the power and the impotency
of man. In the volume of this series entitled Polar Seas
and Regions, full and interesting details are given of the ÎV PREFACE.
various expeditions by sea to these frozen regions. But
before we could be said to have obtained a complete view
of the efforts made to explore the extreme north by the
nations of Europe, there remained to be completed another
branch of adventure, equally arduous, and more varied in
character. We allude to the expeditions undertaken,
partly by land and partly by lake and river navigation, to
trace the Northern Coasts of America. This desideratum
the present volume will supply, and in combination with
the work alluded to, will be found to give a complete
account of the whole series of Northern Discoveries by
land and water, from the earliest period down to the present time.
The beautiful and romantic scenery through which the
successive adventurers passed, the wild uncultivated natives
with whom they came into contact, the manifold dangers
they encountered among the lakes and foaming cataracts,
and the stirring rencontres they frequently had with the
ferocious animals that inhabit the North American wil-'
dernqgs, form a large portion of the following pages. PROGRESS  OF  DISCOVERY
Discovery of North, America—Early Voyages of the Portuguese,
French, and Spaniards.
First Discovery of North America by John Cabot—Voyages of Sebastian Cabot—Of the Cortereals—Discovery of Labrador—French Discoveries—Voyages of Verazzano—Of Jacques Carder—Discovery of
Canada—Spanish Voyages of Discovery—Cortes—Ulloa—Alarchon
When we peruse the lives of such men as De Gama and
Columbus, and consider the complicated difficulties overcome by these early navigators, their imperfect means, and
the dark and defective state of their knowledge, it is difficult to repress astonishment at the success which attended
their exertions, and the magnitude and splendour of their
discoveries. In reflecting, indeed, upon so great a theme
as the revelation of a new world, it becomes us to raise our
minds from the region of second causes to the awful contemplation of that Almighty Being, who confounds the calculations of man by bringing stupendous results out of the
feeblest human preparations; and it is one of the finest
features in the character of Columbus, that he invariably
acted under the conviction of being selected by God for the
task which he at length accomplished ; but the admiration
with which we regard this great man—and that belongs,
though in an inferior degree, to many of his contemporaries in the field of discovery—is enhanced rather than diminished by this union of simple and primitive faith with
ardent genius and undaunted resolution.
• A former volume* has been devoted to the description of
the daring efforts which have been made to explore the
Polar Seas ; and we now proceed to direct our attention to
another, and a no less interesting and important chapter in
the history of human enterprise—the discovery of North
America, and the progress of maritime adventure on the
more northern coasts of this vast continent. Without detracting in any degree from the fame of Columbus, it may
be mentioned as a remarkable circumstance, that although
the admiral landed in Hispaniola as early as the 4th of
February 1493, he did not ascertain the existence of the
continent of South America till the 30th of May 1498 ;
whilst there is certain evidence that, almost a year before,
an English vessel had reached the shores of North America. As much obscurity hangs over the circumstances of
this early voyage, and as I have arrived at a conclusion
completely at variance with that adopted by a late acute
writer,-}- it will be necessary to dwell with some minuteness
on the history of this great event.
* Discovery and Adventure in the Polar Seas and Regions, by Sir
John Leslie, &c.    London, 1853.
t The author of the Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 50, 51, an anonymous work (London, 1831), which contains much ingenious criticism
and valuable research. It is, however, unhappily confused in its arrange- f
ment, and written throughout in a tone of asperity which, in the discussion of a subject of remote biography, is unpleasant and uncalled for.
The author has been unjustly severe in his animadversions on the labours
of HaMuyt, of whom a brief Vindication will be found at the end of
this volume. 1494.]
The attention paid to navigation by the commercial states
of Italy, and especially by the republics of Genoa and
Venice, is familiar to all acquainted with the history of
Europe during the fifteenth century.   Italian merchants and
agents of opulent commercial houses were found settled in
every European state ; and the impetus communicated to
the human mind by the discoveries of the Portuguese and
the Spaniards rendered the sciences of cosmography and
navigation the most popular subjects of instruction which
were taught in the schools.    A devotion to them became
fashionable among the noble and ardent youths, who associated with them all that was romantic and delightful;
they were considered as the certain guides to daring and
successful maritime adventure, and the handmaids to wealth
and fame.    It was about this momentous period, in the
year 1494, that we find a Venetian, named John Cabot, or
Gabota, residing in the opulent city of Bristol.    At what
precise time he settled in England is not now discoverable;
we only know that he left Italy for the purpose of devoting himself to the mercantile profession.    He was one of
those enthusiastic spirits upon whom the career of Columbus made a deep impression ; and about a year after the
return of the great Genoese from his first voyage, the
merchant of Bristol appears to have embraced the idea
that new lands might be discovered in the north-west,
and a passage in all probability attained by this course to
India.*   Animated by such a project, Cabot addressed himself to Henry VIL, and found immediate encouragement
from that monarch, who, though of a cold and cautious disposition, was seldom slow to listen to any proposal which
promised an increase of wealth to his exchequer.    On the
5th of March 1495, the king granted his royal commission
* Tiraboschi, Storia della Letter. IJal., vol. vi. b. i. cap. vi. § 24. JOHN CABOT S PROJECT.
to John Cabot, citizen of Venice, and his sons, Louis,
Sebastian, and Sanchez, committing to him and them, and
to their heirs and deputies, full authority to sail to all
countries and seas of the East, West, and North, under the
banner of England, with five ships of whatever burden and
strength in mariners they might choose to employ. The
equipment of this squadron was cautiously stipulated to be
made "at their own proper costs and charges;" and its
object stated to be the discovery of the isles, regions, and
provinces of the Heathen and Infidels, which hitherto had
been unknown to all the nations of Christendom, in whatever part of the globe they might be placed. By the same
deed the Cabots were empowered to set up the banners and
ensigns of England in the newly discovered countries ; to
subdue and possess them as lieutenants of the king ; and
to enjoy the privilege of exclusive trade ;—the wary monarch, however, annexing to these privileges the condition,
that he was to receive the fifth part of the capital gain
upon every voyage, and binding their ships to return to
the port of Bristol. *
Two important facts are ascertained by this authentic
document. It proves that John Cabot, a citizen of Venice,
was the principal author of, and adventurer in, the project ;
and that no voyage with a similar object had been undertaken prior to the 5th of March 1495.
The expedition, however, did not sail till the spring of
1497, more than a twelvemonth subsequent \o the date of
the original commission. What occasioned this delay it
is now difficult to determine ; but, as the fleet was to be
equipped at the sole expense of the adventurers, it is not
improbable that Cabot had required the interval to raise the
necessary capital.    It is much to be regretted that in no
* I have nearly followed the words of this important document, which
is still preserved.    Rymer, Fœdera Angliœ, vol. xii. p. 595.
NGU 1497.]
contemporary chronicle is there any detailed account of the
voyage. We know, however, that it was conducted by
John Cabot in person, who took with him his son Sebastian, then a very young man. Its result was undoubtedly
the discovery of North America ; and although the particulars of this great event are lost, its exact date has been
recorded by an unexceptionable witness, not only to a day,
but even to an hour. On an ancient map, drawn by Sebastian Cabot, the son, whose name appears in the commission
by the king, engraved by Clement Adams, a contemporary,
and published, as there is reason to believe, under the eye
of Sebastian, was written in Latin, the following brief but
clear and satisfactory account of the discovery:—" In the '
year of our Lord 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian, and his
son Sebastian, discovered that country, which no one before
his time had ventured to approach, on the 24th of June,
about five o'clock in the morning. He called the land
Terra Primum Visa, because, as I conjecture, this was the
place that first met his eyes in looking from the sea. On
the contrary, the island which lies opposite the land he
called the Island of St. John—as I suppose, because it
was discovered on the festival of St. John the Baptist. .
The inhabitants wear beasts' skins and the intestines of
animals for clothing, esteeming them as highly as we do
our most precious garments. In war their weapons are the
bow and arrow, spears, darts, slings, and wooden clubs.
The country is sterile and uncultivated, producing no fruit ;
from which circumstance it happens that it is crowded with
white bears, and stags of an unusual height and size. It
yields plenty of fish, and these very large; such as seals
and salmon : there are soles also above an ell in length ;
but especially great abundance of that kind of fish called
in the vulgar tongue Baccalaos. In the same island, also,
breed hawks, so black in their colour that they wonderfully resemble ravens; besides which, there are partridges and
eagles of dark plumage." *
Such is the notice of the discovery of North America ;
and as some doubt has lately been thrown upon the subject,
it may be remarked that the evidence of the fact contained
in this inscription is perfectly unexceptionable. It comes
from Clement Adams, the intimate friend of Richard Chan-
celor ; and Chancelor lived, as is well known, in habits of
daily intercourse with Sebastian Cabot, who accompanied
his father on the first voyage of discovery. Unfortunately,
both the original map and the engraving are lost; but
happily Purchas has preserved the information, that the
engraved map by Adams bore the date of 1549 ; -j- at which
time Sebastian Cabot was in such great reputation at the
court of Edward VI., that for his services he had received
a princely pension. This young monarch, as we learn from
Burnet, showed a peculiar fondness for maritime affairs.
He possessed a collection of charts, which were hung up in
his cabinet, and amongst them was the engraving of Cabot's
map. The inscription, therefore, must have been seen there
and elsewhere by Sebastian ; and, when we consider that
the date of the engraving corresponds with the time when
he was in high favour with the king, it does not seem improbable that this navigator, to gratify his youthful and royal
patron, employed Adams to engrave from his own chart
the map of North America, and that the facts stated in
the inscription were furnished by himself. The singular
minuteness of its terms seems to prove this ; for who but
he, or some one personally present, after the lapse of fifty-
two years, could have communicated the information that
the discovery was made about five o'clock in the morning
of the 24th June?  If, however, this is questioned as being
t Purchas' Pilgrims, vol. iii. p. 807. 1497-]
conjectural, the fact that Sebastian must have seen the
inscription is sufficient to render the evidence perfectly conclusive upon the important point of John Cabot being the
discoverer of North America. That he had along with him
in his ship his son Sebastian, cannot, we think, in the opinion
of any impartial person, detract from or infringe upon the
merit of the father. But, to complete the proof, a late
writer has availed himself of an imperfect extract from a
record of thé rolls, furnished by the industrious Hakluyt,
to discover an original document which sets the matter altogether at rest. This is the second commission for discovery,
granted by Henry VII. on the 3d of February, and in the
thirteenth year of his reign, to the same individual who
conducted the first expedition. The letters are directed to
John Kabotto, Venetian, and permit him to sail with six
ships "to the land and isles of late found by the said John
in our name and by our commandment." * It presents a
singular picture of the inability of an ingenious and otherwise acute mind to estimate the weight of historical evidence, when we find the biographer of Sebastian Cabot
insisting, in the face of such a proof as this, that the glory
of the first discovery of North America is solely due to
Sebastian, and that it may actually be doubted whether his
father accompanied the expedition at all. -}•
Immediately after the discovery, the elder Cabot appears
to have returned to England; and on the 10th of August
we find, in the privy purse expenses of Henry VIL, the
sum of ten pounds awarded to him who found the New
Isle, which was probably the name then given to Newfoundland. Although much engrossed at this moment with
the troubles which arose in his kingdom in consequence of
the Cornish rebellion, the war with Scotland,  and the
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 76.
f Ibid. p. 50. 8
attempt upon the crown by PerHn Warbeck, the king determined to pursue the enterprise, and to encourage a
scheme for colonization under the conduct of the.original
discoverer. To this enterprising navigator he, on the 3d of
February 1497,* granted those second letters-patent just
alluded to, which conferred an ampler authority and more
favourable terms than the first commission. E e empowered
John Kabotto, Venetian, to take at his pleasure six English
ships, with their necessary apparel, and to lead them to the
land and isles lately found by him according to the royal
command. Cabot was also permitted to receive on board
all such masters, mariners, pages, and other subjects as
chose to accompany him ; and it seems probable, from some
entries in the privy purse expenses, that Launcelot Thir-
kill of London, Thomas Bradley, and John Carter, embarked
in the adventure. -}-
When about to set sail on his Second voyage, John
Cabot, who had previously received from Henry the honour
of knighthood, appears, from some cause not now discoverable, to have been prevented from taking the command;J
and though the name of Sebastian was not included in the
second royal commission, he was promoted to the situation
left vacant by his father. He must still, indeed, have been a
young man; but he had accompanied the first voyage, and at
an early age developed that genius for naval enterprise which
afterwards so remarkably distinguished him. We know
from his account of himself that, at the time his parents
carried him from Venice to London, he had attained some
* Old style—1498, new style.
f See Mr. Nicholas' excellent collection entitled Excerpta Histories,
pp. 116, 117.
| The cause might be his death, but this 03* conjecture; of the fact
there is no direct proof: of the knighthood it is not possible to doubt
See, in the Vindication.^ Hakluyt, the remarks on the errors of the biographer of Cabot in his chapter on this subject. 1498.]
knowledge of the sphere; and when about this period the
great discovery of Columbus began to be talked of in England as a thing almost more divine than human, the effect
of it upon his youthful imagination was to excite " a mighty
longing," to use his own words, " and burning desire in his
heart that he too should perform some illustrious action."*
With such dispositions, we may easily imagine how rapid
must have been his progress in naval science, with the
benefit of his father's example and instructions. It is not
matter of surprise, therefore, that though probably not more
than twenty-three years old, the conduct of the enterprise
was intrusted to him. He accordingly sailed from England
with two ships in the summer of 1498, and directing his
course, by Iceland, soon reached Newfoundland, which he
called Terra de Baccalaos, from the great quantity of fish
of that name.
Of this remarkable voyage a short account is preserved
by Peter Martyr, the historian of the New World, a writer
of high authority, and so intimate a friend of the navigator, that, at the time he wrote the passage which we now
give, Sebastian was in the habit of paying him frequent
, visits at his house : " These northern seas," says this writer,
Si" have been navigated and explored by Sebastian Cabot,
a Venetian by birth, whom his parents, when they were
setting out to settle in Britain, according to the common
custom of the Venetians, who for the sake of commercial
adventure become citizens of every country, carried along
with them when he was little more than an infant.-J- He
fitted out two ships in England at his own charges, and first,
* Ramusio, Viaggi, ■&>!. i. p. 414. .
*f" Cabot was horn in England, and carried by his father into'Italy
when four years old. He was afterwards brought back to England
when a youth, " assai giovane."—Ramusio, vol. i. p. 414. Memoir of
Cabot, p. 69. s
with three hundred men, directed his course so far towards
the North Pole, that even in the month of July he found
great heaps of ice swimming in the sea, and almost continual daylight. Yet he saw the land free from ice, which
had been melted by the heat of the sun. Thus observing
such masses of ice before him, he was compelled to turn his
sails and follow the west; and, coasting still by the shore,
was brought so far into the south, by reason of the land
bending much to the southward, that it was there almost
equal in latitude with the sea called Fretum Herculeum.
He sailed to the west till he had the Island of Cuba on his
left hand, almost in the same longitude. As he passed
along those coasts, called by him Baecalaos, he affirmed
that he found the same current of the waters towards the
west which the Spaniards met with in the southern navigations, with the single difference that they flowed. more
gently. From this circumstance it appears to me," says
Martyr, " not only a probable, but an almost necessary
conclusion, that there must exist, between both the continents hitherto unknown, great gaps or open places, through
which the waters continually pass from the east to the
west. * * * Sebastian Cabot himself named these
lands Baecalaos, because in the seas thereabout he found
such an immense multitude of large fish like tunnies, called
baecalaos by the natives, that they actually impeded the
sailing of his ships. He found also the inhabitants of
these regions covered with beasts' skins, yet not without
the use of reason. He also relates that there are plenty of
bears in these parts, which feed upon fish. It is the practice of these animals to throw themselves into the midst of
the shoals of fish, and, each seizing his prey, to bury their
claws in the scales, drag them to land, and there devour
them. On this account he says that these bears meddle
little with men.      *       *       *        Cabot is mv intimate 1498.]
friend, and one whom it is my delight to have frequently
under my roof; for, being called out of England by the
command of the King of Castile after the death of Henry
VIL, he was made one of our council and assistants relating
to the affairs of the new Indies ; and he looks daily for
"ships to be fitted out for him, that he may discover this
hidden secret of nature. I expect," concludes Peter Martyr, " that he will be able to set out on his voyage during the
course of the next year, 1516, and in the month of March." *
When it is known that Sebastian Cabot's second voyage-f-
from England to North America did not take place till
1517, it becomes certain that the above passage, written
in 1515, must relate to the expedition of 1498; and remembering that the author was personally intimate with
this navigator, and wrote only seventeen years after the
voyage had taken place, we are' inclined to set a high
value on such an authority. It is deeply to be regretted
that the original maps drawn by so eminent a discoverer,
and the discourses with which he illustrated them, are now
lost ; | but in this deficiency of original materials, the work
of Ramusio—a collector of voyages who was a contemporary of Cabot—supplies some valuable information.
In the-first volume of his Voyages, this amusing writer
has introduced a discourse upon the different routes by which
the spices of the East were conveyed in ancient times to
Europe; and towards the conclusion of the essay he brings
?Peter Martyr, De Orbe Novo, 3d decad. cap. 6. Edition by Hak-
luyt, p. 232.—Eden's Translation in Willes' Hist, of Travayle, p. 125.
—The hidden secret, or natural phenomenon, of which Cabot was expected to penetrate the cause, is stated by Martyr at p. 231. It was to
resolve the question, " Why the seas in these parts run with so swift a
current from the east to the west ?"
t Although the son accompanied the father, I consider the voyage of
1497 as solely conducted by John Cabot.
$ Memoir of Cabot, p. 41. 12
in a subject which then deeply occupied the attention of
learned men—the project, namely, for discovering a passage
to the kingdom of Cathay and the coasts of India, by the
north-west. In the discussion of this point, Ramusio
minutely describes a conversation which took place at the
villa of the celebrated Italian physician and poet, Fracas-
toro, between Ramusio himself, Fracastoro, an architect
named St. Michael, and a certain philosopher and mathematician, who gave them an account of an interview which
he once had with Sebastian Cabot in the city of Seville.
The whole passage is interesting, whether we look to the
information regarding Cabot, or to the pleasing picture it
brings before us of the great Fracastoro in his philosophic
and classical retreat at Caphi. No apology, therefore, need
be made for presenting it to the reader. " Having thus
given you," says the Italian writer, " all that I could extract from ancient and modern authors upon this subject,
it would be inexcusable in me if I did not relate a high
and admirable discourse, which, some few months ago, it
was my good fortune to hear, in company with the excellent architect, Michael de St. Michael, in the sweet and
romantic country-seat of Hieronymo Fracastoro, named
Caphi, situated near Verona, whilst we sat on the top of a
hill, commanding a view of the whole of the Lago di
Garda. * * * Being then, as I said, at Caphi, where we
had gone to visit our excellent friend Hieronymo, we found
him on our arrival sitting in company with a certain
gentleman, whose name, from motives of delicacy and respect, I conceal. He was, however, a profound philosopher
and mathematician, and at that moment engaged in exhibiting to Fracastoro an instrument lately constructed to
show a new motion of the heavens. Having reasoned
upon this point for a long time, they, by way of recreation,
caused a large globe, upon which the world was minutely 1496.]        RAÏIUSIO'S ACCOUKT OF SEBASTIAN CABOT.
laid down, to be brought; and having this before him, the
gentleman I have mentioned began to speak to the following purpose." Ramusio, after this introduction, gives us,
as proceeding from the stranger, a great mass of geographical information, after which he introduces him discussing
with Fracastoro the probability of a north-west passage to
India. "At this point of his conversation," says he,
" after the stranger had made a pause for a few moments,
he turned to us and said,—' Do you not know, regarding
this project of going to India by the north-west, what was
formerly achieved by your fellow-citizen the Venetian, a
most extraordinary man, and so deeply conversant in everything connected with navigation and the science of cosmography, that in these days he hath not his equal in Spain,
-insomuch that for his ability he is preferred above all
other pilots that sail to the West Indies, who may not pass
thither without his license, on which account he is denominated Piloto Mayor, or Grand Pilot ?' When to this question we replied that we knew him not, the stranger proceeded to tell us, that being some, years ago in the city of
Seville, he was desirous to gain an acquaintance with the
navigations of the Spaniards, when he learnt that there
was in the city a valiant man, a Venetian born, named
Sebastian Cabot, who had the charge of those things, being
an expert man in the science of navigation, and one who
could make charts for the sea with his own hand. ' Upon
this report of him,' continued he, ' 1 sought his acquaintance, and found him a pleasant and courteous person, who
loaded me with kindness, and showed me many -things;
among the rest a large map of the world, with the navigations of the Portuguese and the Spaniards minutely laid
down upon it; and in exhibiting this to me, he informed me
that his father, many years ago, having left Venice and
gone to settle as a merchant in England, had taken him to 14
London when he was still a youth; yet not so backward,
but he had then acquired the knowledge of the Latin tongue,
and some acquaintance with the sphere. It so happened,
he said, that his father died at that time when the news
arrived that Don Christopher Columbus had discovered the
coast of the Indies, of which there was much talk at the
court of Henry VIL, who then reigned in England.' "
The effect of this discovery upon Cabot's youthful ambition,
which we have already alluded to, is next described by
Ramusio from the report of the stranger, and he then proceeds in these remarkable words :—" ' Being aware,' said
Cabot to me, ' that if I sailed with the wind bearing me in
a north-westerly course, I should come to India by a
shorter route, I suddenly imparted my ideas to the king,
who was much pleased with them, and fitted out for me
three caravels with all necessary stores and equipments.
This,' he added, ' was in the beginning of the summer of
the year 1496, and I began to sail towards the north-west
with the idea that the first land I should make would be
Cathay, from which I intended afterwards to direct my
course to the Indies ; but after the lapse of several days,
having discovered it, I found that the coast ran towards
the north, to my great disappointment. I From thence
sailing along it, to ascertain if I could find any gulf to run
into, I could discover none ; and thus having proceeded as
far as 56° under the Pole, and seeing that here the coast
trended towards the east, I despaired of discovering any
passage, and after this turned back to examine the same
coast in its direction towards the equinoctial—always with
the same object of finding a passage to the Indies—and thus
at last I reached the country at present named Florida,
where, since my provisions began to fail me, I took the
resolution of returning to England. On arriving in that
country, I found great tumults, occasioned by the rising 1498.]
of the common people and the war in Scotland ; nor was
there any more talk of a voyage to these parts. For this
reason I departed into Spain to their most Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, who, having learnt what I
had accomplished, received me into their service, provided
for me handsomely, and despatched me on a voyage of
discovery to the coast of Brazil, where I found an exceeding deep and mighty river, called at present La Plata, into
which I sailed and explored its course into the continent
more than six score leagues. * * * This,' continued
the stranger gentleman, addressing himself to us, ' is the
substance of all that I learnt from the Signor Sebastian
Cabot.' "*
Such is the passage from Ramusio; and from it we have
another proof, that of this second voyage, which probably
took place after the death of the. original discoverer, Sebastian Cabot had the sole command ; that its object was to
find a north-west passage to India, and that the highest
latitude which he reached was 56°. I am quite aware
some of the statements in this extract are erroneous, and
that Gomara, an author of good authority, carries Sebastian as far as 58° north ;-J- but, considering the particular
circumstances under which the information is conveyed,
there is no reason to doubt that the general sketch of the
voyage is correct; and it establishes the important fact,
that as early as 1498, the coast of North America, from
the latitude of 56° or 58° north to the coast of Florida, had
been discovered by the English. The domestic affairs of
Henry, however, and the involved political negotiations
with France and the continent, undoubtedly prevented the
king from holding out to Sebastian that encouragement
with which so great a discovery ought to have been re-
* Viaggi del Ramusio, torn. i. pp. 413, 414.
t Memoir of Cabot, p. 87. 1G
warded; and after an interval of fourteen years, of which
we have no certain account/ this great navigator left England and entered into the service of Spain.
The Portuguese, a nation to whose genius and perseverance the sister sciences of geography and navigation owe
some of their highest triumphs, were at this period in the
zenith of their fame, animated with an enthusiastic spirit
of enterprise, and ready to consider every discovery not
conducted by themselves as an encroachment upon their
monopoly of maritime glory. Inspired with this jealousy,
Gaspar de Cortereal, of whose expedition notice has already
been taken in this Library,* determined to pursue the track
of discovery opened by Cabot in the north-west, and in
1500, sailed with two ships from Lisbon, animated by the
desire of exploring this supposed new route to India.-\-
Cortereal touched at the Azores, where he completed his
crews, and took in provisions. He then steered a course
never, as far as he knew, traced by any former navigator,
and came upon a country to which he gave the name of
Terra Verde, but which is carefully to be distinguished
from that called Greenland. This was in truth the coast
of Labrador, denominated in an old map published at Rome
in 1508, Terra Corterealis. It lay between the west and
north-west; and, after having explored it for upwards of
* Discovery and Adventure in the Polar Seas, 3d edition, p. 184, and
Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, p. 24.
•j* Cortereal had been educated in the household of the King of Portugal before he came to the throne, and when he still bore the title of
Duke de Beja.—Damiano Goes, Chronica del Rey Dom. Manuel, c. 66,
cap. 66, p. 187. His character, as given by this ancient and contemporary chronicler, is brief and forcible: " Gaspar de Cortereal, son of
John Vaz Cortereal, was a man of an enterprising and determined character, ardently thirsting after glory; for which reason he proposed to
set out on a voyage of discovery, seeking countries in northern latitudes,
we (the Portuguese) having at this time discovered many in southern
parts." 1500.]
six hundred miles without reaching any termination, Cortereal
concluded that it must form part of the mainland, which was
connected with another region discovered in the preceding
year in the north—evidently alluding to the voyage of
Sebastian Cabot in 1498.* The most curious and authentic aecount of this remarkable expedition of the Portuguese
navigator is to be found in a letter, written by Pietro Pas-
quiligi, the Venetian ambassador at the court of Portugal,
to his brothers in Italy, only eleven days after the return
of Cortereal from his first voyage. " On the 8th of October," says he, "there arrived in this port one of the two
caravels, which were last year* despatched by the King of
Portugal for the discovery of lands lying in the north, Under
the command of Gaspar Cortereal. He relates that he has
■ discovered a country situated between the west and north-west,
distant from this about two thousand miles, and which before
the present time was utterly unknown. They ran along the
coast between six hundred and seven hundred miles without
arriving at its termination, on which account they concluded
it to be the same continent that is connected with another
land discovered last year in the north, which, however, the
caravels could not reach, the sea being frozen, and a vast
quantity of snow having fallen. They were confirmed in
the same opinion by finding so many mighty rivers, which
certainly were too numerous and too large to have proceeded from an island. They report that this land is
thickly peopled, and that the houses are built of very long
beams of timber, and covered with the furs of the skins of
fishes. They have brought hither along with them seven
of the inhabitants, including men, women, and children ;
and in the other caravel, which is looked for every hour,
they are bringing fifty more.    These people, in colour,
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 241. 18
figure, stature, and expression, greatly resemble gipsies;
they are clothed with the skins of different beasts, but
chiefly of the otter, wearing the hair outside in summer,
and next to the skin in winter. These skins, too, are not
sewed together, nor shaped to the body in any fashion, but
wrapt around their arms and shoulders exactly as taken
from the animals ; whilst the slight and partial covering
which they wear is formed with strong cords made of the
sinews or entrails of fishes. On this account their appearance is completely savage; yet they are very sensible to
shame, gentle in their manners, and better made in their
arms, legs, and shoulders, than can be expressed. Their
faces are punctured in the same manner as the Indians;—
some have six marks, some eight, some fewer; they use a
language of their own, but it is understood by no one.
Moreover, I believe that every possible language has been
addressed to them. They have no iron in their country,
but manufacture knives out of certain kinds of stones, with
which they point their arrows. They have also brought
from this island a piece of a broken sword inlaid with gold,
which we can pronounce undoubtedly to have been made
in Italy; and one of the children had in his ears two
pieces (todini) of silver, which as certainly appear to have
been made in Venice—a circumstance inducing me to
believe that their country belongs to the continent, since it
is evident that if it had been an island where any vessel
had touched before this time, we should have heard of it.
They have great plenty of salmon, herring, stockfish, and
similar kinds of fish. They have also abundance of timber,
and principally of the pine, fitted for the masts and yards
of ships; on which account his Serene Majesty anticipates
the greatest advantage from this country, both in furnishing
timber for his shipping, of which he at present stands in
great need, and also from the men who inhabit it, who 1601.]
appear admirably fitted to endure labour, and will probably
turn out the best slaves which have been discovered up to
this time. This arrival appeared to me an event of which
it was right to inform you; and if, on the -arrival of the
other caravel, I receive any additional information, it shall
be transmitted to you in like manner."*
Nothing could be more cruel and impolitic than the conduct of Cortereal, in seizing and carrying into captivity
these unfortunate natives ; and it is difficult to repress our
indignation at the heartless and calculating spirit with which
the Portuguese monarch entered into the adventure, contemplating the rich supplies of slaves that were to be imported from this new country.-f- It is an ingenious conjecture of the biographer of Cabot, to whose research we
owe our acquaintance with this letter, that the name Terra
de Laborador was given to the coast by the Portuguese
slave merchants in consequence of the admirable qualities
of the natives as labourers, and in anticipation of the profits
to be derived from a monopoly of this unchristian traffic.
But distress and disaster pursued the speculation. On
the 15th May 1501, Cortereal departed on a second voyage
with a determination to pursue his discovery, and, as we
may plausibly conjecture, to return with a new cargo of
slaves and timber; but he was.never again heard of. A
similar dark and unhappy fate befell bis brother, Michael
de Cortereal, who sailed with two ships in search of his
lost relative, but of whom no accounts ever again reached
Portugal.   The most probable conjecturé seems to be, that
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 239, 240.
11 observe that in the History of Discovery and Adventure in the
Polar Seas, Mr. Murray has questioned the accuracy of the opinion
stated by the biographer of Cabot, " that the objects of Cortereal's
second voyage were timber and slaves." The letter, however, of Pas-
qniligi seems to me decisive, that, if not the sole, they were at least very
principal objects in the second voyage. 20
they hoth fell victims to the just indignation of the natives,
whose wives, children, and fathers had been stolen away
during their first visit to the coast. "The king," says
Goes, " felt deeply the loss of these two brothers, so much
the more as they had been educated by him; and on this
account, moved by royal and gracious tenderness, in the
following year, 1503, he sent at his own expense two armed
ships in search of them; but it could never be discovered
where or in what manner either the one or the other was
lost, on which account this province of Terra Verde, where
it was supposed the two brothers perished, was called the
Land of the Cortereals."* The description of the inhabitants,
as given by this contemporary chronicler, contains a few
additional particulars to those mentioned by Pasquiligi.
" The people of the country," says he, " are very barbarous
and uncivilized, almost equally so with the natives of Santa
Cruz, except that they are white, and so tanned by the cold,
that the white colour is lost as they grow older, and they
become blackish. They are of the middle size, very lightly
made, and great archers. Instead of javelins, they employ
sticks burnt in the end, which they use as missiles to as
good purpose as if they were pointed with fine steel. They
clothe themselves in the skins of beasts, of which there are
great plenty in the country. They live in caverns of rocks,
and in houses shaped like nests (choupanas). They have no
laws, believe much in auguries, live in matrimony, and are very
jealous of their wives, in which things they much resemble
the Laplanders, who also inhabit a northern latitude under
70° to 85°, subject to the kings of Norway and Sweden.'-'f
Upon these voyages of the Cortereals the Portuguese attempted to establish a claim to the discovery of Newfoundland and the adjacent coasts of North America, though
* Damiano Goes, Chronica del Key Dom. Manuel, part i. c. 66.
t Ibid, c. 66, p. 87. 1498.]
there is ample historical evidence that both had been visited
by the two Cabots three years prior to the departure of
Cortereal from Lisbon. Maps appear to have-been forged
to support this unfair assumption ; and in a volume published
by Madrignanon at Milan in 1508, which represents.itself
to be a translation of the Italian work entitled " Paesi
Nuovamente Ritrovati," the original letter of Pasquiligi,
describing the arrival of Gasper Cortereal, is disgracefully
garbled and corrupted, for the purpose, as it would seem,
of keeping the prior discoveries of the Cabots in the background, and advancing a fabricated claim for the Portuguese.* It is unfortunate that this disingenuous process of
poisoning the sources of historic truth has succeeded, and
that many authors, not aware of its apocryphal character,
which has been acutely exposed by the biographer of Cabot,
have given currency to the fable of Madrignanon.
About fourteen years after his return from the voyage of
1498, we have seen that Sebastian Cabot was induced to
enter the service of Spain; but, though highly esteemed
for his eminent abilities, appointed one of the Council of
the Indies by Ferdinand, and nominated to the command
of an expedition to the north in search of a north-west
passage, he appears to have been baffled and thwarted in
his plans by the jealousy of the Spaniards, and was at last
compelled to abandon them on the death of Ferdinand.
He then returned to England; and, indefatigable in the
prosecution of that great object which formed the prominent
pursuit of his life, induced Henry VIII. to fit out a small
squadron for the discovery of the north-west passage to India.
Unfortunately, however, for the success of the voyage, Sir
Thomas Pert, at this time Vice-Admiral of England, was
intrusted with the supreme command, whose want of courage
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 251, 252 POLAR DISCOVERIES.
• and resolution was the cause of its ultimate failure. The
object of Cabot was to proceed by Iceland towards the
American coast, which he had already explored as far as
56°, according to Ramusio, or, if we follow Gomara, 58°
north. This would lead him, to use the expression of
Thorne,* by the back of Newfoundland; and from this point,
pursuing bis voyage farther to the northward, he expected
to find a passage to the kingdom of Cathay. The ships
accordingly set sail, and on the 11th of June they had
reached the 67^-° of northern latitude. They here found
the sea open, and Cabot entertained a confident hope of
sailing through a bay, or "fret," which they had then
entered, to the shores of the Eastern Cathay, when a mutiny
of the mariners, and the faintheartedness of Sir Thomas
Pert, compelled him, much against his inclination, to desist
from the farther prosecution of the voyage, and return
From the high latitude reached by this enter-
* Letter of Eobert Thorne.—Hakluyt, edition of 1589, p. 250.—
" And if they will take their course, after they be past the Pole, towards
the Occident, they shall goe in the back side of the Newfoundland, which
of late was discovered by your Grace's subjects, until they come to the
back side and south seas of the Indies Occidental: And so, continuing
their voyage, they may return thorow the Straight of Magellan to this
country, and so they compass also the world by that way; and if they
goe this third way, and after they be past the Pole, goe right toward the
Pole Antarticke, and then decline towards the lands and islands situated
between the tropicks and under the equinoctial, without doubt they shall
find there the richest lands and islands of the world, of gold, precious
stones, balmis spices, and other thinges that we here esteem most, which
come out of strange countries, and may return the same way." See also
Gomara, as quoted in the Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 21.
f It is evidently to this third voyage that the passage in Eamusio,
vol. iii. p. 4, of the " Discorso sopra il terzo volume," applies. Memoir
of Cabot, p. 117. It is valuable, as this author, though he appears by
mistake to have put the name of Henry VII. for that of Henry VIII.,
quotes in it a letter which many years before he had received from
Sebastian Cabot himself. He (Eamusio), in speaking of the discoveries
subsequently made by Verrazzano, and of the country of New France,
remarks, that of this land it is not certain as yet whether it is joined to 1498.]
prising seaman, as well as from the expressions employed,
by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in speaking of the voyage, it
appears certain that Cabot had entered the great bay afterwards explored by Hudson, and since known by his name*
It is an extraordinary fact, therefore, but it rests upon
evidence which it would be difficult to controvert, that
ninety years before the first voyage of Hudson, he had
been anticipated in his principal discovery by an early
navieator, to whose merits the world have done little
Whilst the Portuguese, the Spaniards, and the English,
had early entered upon the career of discovery, the French,
a people undoubtedly of the highest genius and enterprise,
evinced an unaccountable inactivity upon this great subject,
and appeared to view with indifference the brilliant suc-
the continent of Florida and New Spain, or whether it is separated into
islands, and may thus admit of a passage to the kingdom of Cathay.
" Come," he proceeds, " come mi fu scritto gia molti anni sono, dal Sig-
nor Sebastian Gabotto nostro Vinitiano huomo di grande esperienza et
rara nell' arte del navigare, e nella scienza di cosmografia: il quale avea
navicato disopra di questa terra della Nuova Francia a spese del Ee
Henrico VII. d'Inghilterra e me diciva, come essendo egli andato lunga-
mente alla volta de ponente e quarta di Maestro dietro queste Isole poste
lungo la delta terra fini a gradi sessanta sette e mezzo sotto il nostro polo
a xi. di Gûigno e trovandosi il mare aperto e senza impedimento alcuno,
pensava fermamente per quella via di poter passare alia volta del Cataio
Orientale, e l'avrebbe fatto, se la malignita del padrone e de marineri
sollevati non lliavessero fatto tornare a dietro." This discourse is
dated 20th June 1553.
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 16. It must be recollected that Sir Humphrey
Gilbert had the advantage of having examined the charts of Sebastian
Cabot, which, he tells us, were then to be seen in the Queen's privy gallery at Whitehall. It has also been acutely remarked by a late writer
(Memoir of Cabot, p. 29), that Ortelius, who died nine years before
Hudson undertook his first voyage, in the map of America, published in
his great geographical work, the " Theatrum Orbis Terrarum," has laid
down the form of Hudson's Bay with singular precision. Now, we know
by the list of authorities oited by Ortelius, that he was in possession of
a map of the world by Sebastian Cabot. The source, therefore, from
which he derived his information is evident. 24
cesses of other nations. At length Francis I., a monarch
who was deeply smit with the love of glory, caught the
enthusiasm for maritime discovery, and eager to cope upon
equal terms with his great rival Charles V., j fitted ont a
squadron of four ships, the command of which he entrusted
to Giovanni Verazzano, a Florentine navigator of great
skill and celebrity. The destination of the armament,
however, appears to have embraced the purposes of plunder
as well as of discovery; and in a cruise, three of his vessels
were so much damaged in a storm, that they were compelled, for the purpose of refitting, to run into a port in
Brittany, from which, impatient of the delay, the admiral, in
a single vessel named the Dauphin, set sail with a determination to prosecute discoveries. He first steered his course for
Madeira, and thence sailed in a westerly direction for twenty-
five days, making in that time five hundred leagues. A
storm now attacked him, in whieh his little vessel had nearly
perished; but he at last weathered the gale, and proceeding onwards for four hundred leagues, arrived upon a coast
that, according to his own account, had never before been
visited.* It is probable that this shore belonged either to
North or South Carolina;-)- and the appearance of many
large fires on the beach convinced him that the country
was inhabited. Verazzano, however, in vain sought for a
port; and after exploring the coast both to the south and
north without success, he was compelled to anchor in the
open sea, after which he sent his boat on shore to open an
intercourse with the natives. This he effected not without
some difficulty; for as soon as the French landed, the
savages fled in great trepidation; yet they soon after stole
back, exhibiting signs of much wonder and curiosity.    At
* Eamusio, Viaggi, vol. iii. p. 420.—" Dovi scopsimmo una terra
nuova, non piu da gl'antichi ne da moderni vista."
f " Sta questa terra m gradi 34°."—Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 420.
m*m 1534.]
last, being convinced that they had nothing to fear, they
completely recovered their confidence, and not only brought
provisions to the French, but assisted in drawing their boat
on shore, and carefully and minutely scrutinized everything belonging to the vessels and the crew. They admired the white skin of the strangers, handled their dress,
and exhibited the utmost astonishment and delight. They
themselves were a handsome race of people, their eyes
dark and large, their expression bold, open, and cheerful ;
their chests were broad, and they combined middle stature
and symmetry of limbs with great nimbleness and swiftness
of foot. Their colour was tawny, not unlike the Saracens,
and they wore their hair, which was black and thick, tied
behind their head in a little tail, and sometimeSjOrnamented
with a garland of birds' fathers. Their bodies were not
disfigured or tattooed in any way, and they walked about
perfectly naked, except that they wore short aprons of furs
fastened round their middle by a girdle of woven grass.
In the immediate vicinity of the coast the country -was
sandy, rising into gentle undulations ; as they proceeded it
became more elevated, and was covered by noble woods,
consisting, not of the usual forest trees, but of the palm,
laurel, cypress, and others then unknown in Europe, which
grew to a great height, and diffused a delicious perfume
that was discerned far out at sea. " The land also," says
Verazzano in his letter to Francis I., " is full of many
animals, as stags, deer, and hares, which were seen sporting in the forests, and frequenting the banks of pleasant
lakes and rivers ; nor were there wanting great plenty
and variety of birds of game, fitted to afford delightful
recreation for the sportsman. The sky was clear, the
air wholesome and temperate, the prevalent wind blowing from the west, and the sea calm and placid. In
short, a country more full of amenity could not well be 26
imagined."* An excellent author and navigator thinks it
probable that the spot where Verazzano first landed was on
the coast of Georgia, near the present town of Savannâh.-{-
From this he proceeded along the shore, which turned
to the eastward, and appeared thickly inhabited, but so low
and open, that landing in such à surf was impossible. In
this perplexity a young sailor undertook to swim to land
and accost the natives; but when he saw the crowds which
thronged the beach, he repented of his purpose, and although within a few yards of the landing-place, his courage
failed, and he attempted to turn back. At this moment
the water only reached his waist ; but, overcome with terror and exhaustion, he had scarcely strength to cast his
presents and trinkets upon the beach, when a high wave
cast him stupified and senseless upon the shore. The
savages ran immediately to his assistance, and carried him
to a little distance from the sea, where it was some time
before he recovered his recollection; and great was his
terror when he found himself entirely in their power.
Stretching his hands towards the ship, he uttered a piercing shriek, to which his friends ojf the New World replied
by raising a loud yell, intended, as he afterwards found, to
encourage him. But, if this was sufficiently alarming,
their farther proceedings proved still more formidable. They
carried him to the foot of a hill, turned his face towards the
sun, kindled a large fire, and stripped him naked. No
doubt was now left in the mind of the unhappy man that
they were about to offer him as a sacrifice to the sun; and
his companions on board, who watched the progress of the
adventure, unable, from the violence of the sea, to lend him
assistance, were of the same opinion. They thought, to
use Verazzano's own words, that the natives were going
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 420.
f Forster's Discoveries in the North, p. 433. 1524.]
to roast and eat him.* But their fears were soon turned
into gratitude and astonishment ; for they only dried his
clothes, warmed him, and showed him every mark of kindness, caressing and patting his white skin; and on observing that he still trembled and looked suspicious, they assisted
him to dress, conducted him to the beach, tenderly embraced him, and, pointing to the vessel, removed to a little
distance, to show that he was at liberty to return to his
friends. This he did by swimming to the ship's boat, which
had been put out to receive him, followed by the kind gestures of the savages, who gazed after him till they saw him
safe among his friends. The spot where Verazzano found
this amiable people is conjectured by Forster to have been
somewhere between New Jersey and Staaten Island.
From this the Florentine sailed onward, observing the
Coast trending to the northward, and after a run of fifty
leagues, came to anchor off a delightful country covered with
the finest forests. The trees, although equally luxuriant,
did not emit the same perfume as those before seen; but
the region was rich, covered with grass, and thickly peopled,
although the natives appeared more timid than the last, and
avoided all intercourse. The sailors, however, discovered
and seized a family who had concealed themselves in the
underwood, consisting of an old woman, a young girl of
a tall and handsome figure, and six children. The two
younger of the little ones were squatted on the shoulders
of the old woman, and another child hung behind her back,
whilst the girl was similarly loaded. On being approached,
both the females shrieked loudly ; but having succeeded in
pacifying them, the sailors understood^ by their signs, that
all the men had escaped to the woods on the appearance of
the ships.   Much persuasion was now used to induce them
* Eamusio, vol. iii p. 421. 28
to go on board; but although the elderly lady showed
symptoms of acquiescence, and eagerly ate the food which
was offered her, no entreaties could soften the obstinacy and
rage of the younger. She uttered piercing cries, cast the
meat indignantly on the ground, and rendered the task of
dragging her through the thick woods so tedious and distressing, that they were obliged to desist and leave her,
only carrying with them a little boy, who could make no
resistance* The people of this country possessed fairer
complexions than those whom they had just left, and were
clad with large leaves sewed together with threads of wild
hemp. Their common food was pulse, but they subsisted
also by fishing, and were very expert in catching birds with
gins. Their bows were made of hard wood, their arrows
of canes headed with fish-bone, and their boats constructed
of one large tree hollowed by fire, for they appeared to have
no instruments of iron or other metal. Wild vines crept
up the trunks of the trees, hanging in rich festoons from
the branches, and the banks and meadows were covered
with roses, lilies, violets, and many sorts of herbs different
from those of Europe, yielding a fresh and delightful fragrance.
Verazzano now proceeded one hundred leagues farther,
to a sheltered and beautiful bay surrounded by gently rising
hills, and discovered a large river, which from its depth
seemed navigable to a considerable distance. Fearful, however, of any accident, they ascended it in boats ; and the voyage
conducted them through a country so full of sweetness and
attraction, that they left it with much regret.-}- Prosecuting their discoveries fifty leagues eastward, they reached
another island of a triangular shape, covered with rich
wood, and rising into gentle hills, which reminded them of 1524.]
Rhodes, both in its form and general aspect. A contrary
wind, however, rendered it impossible to land, and pursuing
their course about fifteen leagues farther along the coast,
they found a port where there was an excellent anchorage.
Here they were soon visited by the natives, who came in a
squadron of twenty boats, and at first cautiously kept at
the distance of fifty paces. Observing, however, the friendly
gestures of the strangers, they ventured nearer, and when
the French threw them bells, mirrors, and other trinkets,
they raised a loud and simultaneous shout expressive of
joy and security, no longer hesitating to row their boats to
the ship's side and come aboard. They are described by
Verazzano, in his account of the voyage sent to Francis I.,
as the finest and handsomest race, and the most civilized in
their manners, of any he had yet met in America. Their
colour was fairer than that of the more southern people,
and in the symmetry of their forms, and the simplicity and
gracefulness of their attitudes, they almost vied with the
antique. They soon became exceedingly friendly and intimate, and conducted the French into the interior of the
country, which they found variegated with wood, and more
delightful than can be easily described. Adapted for every
sort of cultivation, whether of corn, vines, or olives, it was
interspersed with plains of twenty-five or thirty leagues in
length, open and unencumbered with trees, and of such
fertility, that whatever fruit might be sown, was certain to
produce a rich and abundant return. They afterwards
entered the woods, which were of great size, and so thick
that a large army might have been concealed in them. The
trees consisted of oaks and cypresses, besides other species
unknown to Europe. They found also apples, parsley,
plums, and filberts, and many other kinds of fruit different
from those of Italy. They saw likewise many animals,
such as harts, roes, wolves, and stags, which the natives pyaasi
caught with snares, and destroyed with bows and arrows,
their principal weapons of offence. The arrows were made
with great neatness, and' at the point, instead of iron they
inserted flints, jaspers, hard marble, and other kinds of cut
stones. These they also made use of in felling trees, and
in excavating their boats, which, with great skill, were
made of a single trunk, yet large enough to hold ten or
twelve men commodiously. Their oars were short and
broad at the extremity, which they plied in the sea without
any accident happening, trusting solely to their strength
of arm and skilful management, and seeming able to go at
almost any rate they pleased. Their houses were constructed
in a circular shape, ten or twelve paces in circuit, built of
boards, and separated from each other without any attention
paid to architectural arrangement, covered with tiles made
of clay, of excellent workmanship, and effectually protected
from the wind and rain.* On one subject alone they showed
suspicion, being extremely jealous of the least intercourse
between the French and their women. These they would
on no persuasion allow to enter the ship, and on one occasion, while the king came on board, and spent some hours
in curiously examining every part of the vessel, his royal
consort was left with her female attendants in a boat at
some distance, and strictly watched and guarded.-}-
The French now bade adieu to this kind people, and
pursued their discoveries for one hundred and fifty leagues,
exploring a coast which extended first towards the east and
afterwards to the north. The country still presented an agreeable and inviting aspect, although the climate became colder,
and the regions along which they passed more hilly. A pro-
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 422.
f This country, according to Verazzano, was situated in 41î° of latitude (Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 422), which, if correct, would point it out as
the present flourishing state of Massachusetts. 1524.]
gress of other fifty leagues brought them to a more mountainous district than any yet seen, covered with dark and dense
forests, and possessed by a people whose habits and temper
seemed to partake of the severer nature of their country.
On attempting to open an intercourse, Verazzano found
them as fierce and sullen as those with whom he had lately
dealt were agreeable and generous. Twenty-five of the
crew who landed were received with a shower of arrows;
and although the exhibition of articles of barter overcame
their scruples, and tempted them to agree to an interchange
of commodities, the manner in which this was effected
evinced a striking mixture of avidity and suspicion. They
came down to the beach, .choosing the spot where the surf
was breaking most violently, and insisted that the French
boat should remain on the other side; a rope was then
passed from it to the shore, and the different articles were
swung along it. Strings of beads, toys, or mirrors, they
utterly despised; but eagerly received knives, fishing-hooks,
swords, saws, or anything in the shape of cutting-metal, to
be used in war or in the chase, though such was their savage
temper, that during the process of exchange they expressed
their aversion to the strangers by uncouth gestures of contempt and derision. It seems probable that the country,
now for the first time visited by Europeans, was the present
province of Maine—as we are told by Verazzano, that a
farther run of fifty leagues along the coast brought him to
a cluster of thirty islands separated by narrow channels—
a description which points out, in precise terms, the Bay of
* Murray's North America, vol. i. p. 79. The veracity of the Florentine navigator, in his description of the ferocious habits of the natives,
is strikingly corroborated by the determined and rancorous hostility
evinced afterwards by the Indians of this district in opposing every
attempt at settlement. 32
From this point he pursued his indefatigable course for one
hundred and fifty leagues farther, till he reached the land
already discovered, as he says, by the Britons, in the latitude
of 50°, which is evidently Newfoundland. Here his provisions began to fail, and thinking it prudent to sail for France,
he reached home in safety in the month of July 1524.
Verazzano had thus completed the survey of a line of coast
extending for seven hundred leagues, and embracing the
whole of the United States, along with a large portion of
British America. It was undoubtedly an enterprise of great
magnitude and splendour, and deserves to be carefully recorded, not only as comprehending one of the widest ranges
of early discovery, but as making us for the first time acquainted with that noble country whose history is so
important, and whose destinies, even after a progress unrivalled in rapidity, appear at this moment only in their
infancy. The Florentine gave to the whole region which
he had discovered the name of New France; he then laid
before the king a plan for completing his survey of the
coast, penetrating into the interior, and establishing a
colony; and he appears to have met with encouragement
from Francis I., who embraced his proposals for colonization. From this moment, however, his history is involved
in obscurity. Hakluyt affirms that he performed three
voyages to North America, and gave a map of the coast to
Henry VIII. The biographer of Cabot asserts, that he
was the " Piedmontese pilot" who was slain on the coast
of America in 1527,* not aware that Verazzano was a
Florentine, and alive in 1537 ; and Ramusio could not
ascertain the particulars of his last expedition, or even discover in what year it took place. All that is certainly
known is, that it proved fatal to this great navigator.
Memoir of Cabot, p. 278. 1534.]
Having landed incautiously upon the American coast, he
and his party were surrounded and cut to pieces by the
savages; after which they barbarously devoured them in
the sight of their companions.*
The death of Verazzano appears'to have thrown a damp
over the farther prosecution of discovery by the court of
France; but at length, after an interval of ten years,
Jacques Cartier, an enterprising and able mariner of St.
Malo, was chosen by the Sieur de Melleraye, Vice-Admiral
of France, to conduct a voyage to Newfoundland, which,
since its discovery by Cabot, had been seldom visited, and
was imperfectly known. Cartier departed from St. Malo
on the 20th of April 1534, with two ships, each of 60 tons
burden, and having on board a well-appointed crew of
sixty-one men.-}-   The voyage appears to have been limited
* Such is the account of Eamusio in his Discourse upon New France,
vol. iii. p. 417. But Cardenas, in a work entitled " Ensajo Cronologico
para la Historia de la Florida" (p. 8), has committed an error similar t\j
that of the writer .of Cabot's Life. He believes that Verazzano was the
same as Juan the Florentine, a pirate in the service of France, who was
taken by the Spaniards in 1524, and hanged. The evidence which overturns the theories of both these authors is to be found in a letter of
Annibal Caro, quoted by Tiraboschi, Storia della Letteratura Ital., vol.
vii. part i. pp. 261, 262, from which it appears that Verazzano was
alive in 1537. Lettere Familiari del. Comm. Annibal Caro, vol. i. p. 11.
In his great work, Tiraboschi has collected all that is known regarding
the life of this eminent discoverer ; but this all v\ extremely little. He
was born about the year 1485 ; his father was Pier Andrea Verazzano, a
noble Florentine, his mother Fiametta Capelli. Of his youth, and for
what reasons he entered into the service of Francis I., nothing is known.
The only published work of Verazzano is the narrative in Eamusio, addressed to Francis I., written with much simplicity and elegance. But
in the Strozzi Library at Florence is preserved a manuscript, in which
he is said to give, with great minuteness, a description of all the countries
which he had visited during his voyage, and from which, says Tiraboschi,
we derive the intelligence that he had formed the design of attempting a
passage through these seas to the Fast Indies. It is much to be desired
that some Italian scholar would favour the world with the publication of
this MS. of Verazzano.
•)• Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 435.
C 34
to a survey of the northern coast of Newfoundland, of which
he gives a minute description, dwelling particularly on the
zoological features of the country. He found the land, in
most parts, extremely wild and barren, "insomuch that
he did not see a cart-loaa" of good earth ; and the inhabitants were of stout make, but wild and unruly." They
wore their hair tied on the top like a bunch of hay, fixed
with a wooden bodkin, and ornamented with birds' feathers.
Like their companions whom Cabot had described, they
were clothed in beasts' skins, and ornamented their bodies
by painting them with roan-colours. They paddled about
in boats made of the bark of birch trees, in which they
carried on a constant trade of fishing, and caught great
numbers of seals. After having almost circumnavigated
Newfoundland, Cartier stood in towards the continent, and
anchored in a bay, which, from the extreme heat, was denominated Baye du Chaleur. The description of the inhabitants of this spot is striking and interesting. " Taking
our way," says he, " along the coast, we came in sight of
the savages, who stood on the borders of a lake in the low
grounds, where they had lighted their fires, which raised a
great smoke. We went towards them, and found that an
arm of the sea ran into the lake, into which we pushed
with our boats. Upon this the savages approached in one
of their little barks, bringing along with them pieces of
roasted seals, which they placed upon wooden boards, and
afterwards retired, making signs that this was intended as
a present for us. We immediately put two men ashore,
with hatchets, knives, garlands for the head, and such like
wares. On seeing these articles they appeared much delighted, and crowded to the bank where we were, paddling
their barks, and bringing skins and other articles, which
they meant to exchange for our merchandise. Their mini.
ber, including men, women, and children, was upwards of 1534.]
three hundred. Some of the women, who would not venture
nearer, stood up to the knees in water, singing and dancing.
Others, who had passed over, came to us with great familiarity, rubbing our arms with their hands, which they
afterwards lifted up to heaven, singing all the while, and
making signs of joy; such at last was their friendliness and
security, that they bartered away everything they had, and
stood beside us quite naked; for they scrupled not to give
us all that was on them, and indeed their whole wardrobe
was not much to speak of. It was evident that this people
might be, without difficulty, converted to our faith. They
migrate from place to place, and subsist themselves by fishing. Their country is warmer than Spain, and as beautiful as can be imagined—level, and covered even in the
smallest spots with trees, and this although the soil is
sandy. It is full also of wild corn, which hath an ear
similar to rye. We saw many beautiful meadows full of
rich grass, and lakes where there were plenty of salmon.
The savages called a hatchet, cochi; and a knife, bacon."*
All the navigators who had hitherto visited Newfoundland,
on reaching its northernmost point, appear to have sailed
across the Straits of Belleisle to Cape Charles, upon the
coast of Labrador; but the course of Cartier led him through
the straits into the great Gulf of St. Lawrence, now for the
first time visited by any European. His predecessor,
Verazzano, after reaching the shore of the Bay of Fundy,
had probably sailed along the coast of Nova Scotia until
he reached Cape Breton. Cartier, on the contrary, saw
before him a wide and extensive field of discovery to the
west, which he pursued for some time, directing his course
along the coast of the Bay of St. Lawrence ; but as the
season was far advanced, and the weather became precari-
Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 438. 36
ous, he determined to reserve a more complete examination
of this unknown country for a second voyage, and returned
safely to France, coming to anchor in the port of St. Malo
upon the 5th of September 1534.*
Having been received with favour and distinction, Car-
tier, after a short interval, embarked upon a second voyage.
His squadron consisted of three ships—the Great Hermina,
of which Cartier himself was master, being a vessel of about
120 tons; the Little Hermina, of 60 tons; and the Hermi-
rillon, of 40 tons burden. The crews solemnly prepared
themselves for their voyage by confession and the reception
of the sacrament ; after which they entered in a body into
the choir of the cathedral, and stood before the bishop, who
was clothed in his canonicals, and devoutly gave them his
benediction. Having fulfilled these rites, the fleet weighed
anchor on the 15th of May 1535, and the admiral steered
direct for Newfoundland. His ships,-however, were soon
after separated in a storm, and did not again join company
till the 26th of June ; after which they proceeded to explore
the large gulf which he had already entered. " It was,"
to use the words of the navigator himself, " a very fair
gulf, full of islands, passages, and entrances to what wind
soever you pleased to bend, having a great island like a
cape of land stretching somewhat farther forth than the
others." This island is evidently that named by the
English Anticosti, being merely a corruption of Natiscotec,
the appellation at this day given it by the natives. To the
channel between it and the opposite coast of Labrador,
ave the name of St. Lawrence, which has since
been extended to the whole gulf.
On reaching the eastern point of the island of Anticosti,
the French, who had along with them two of the natives
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 440. 1535.]
of the country, whom they had induced in their former
voyage to accompany them to France, requested their advice
as to their farther progress. The savages stated, that the
gulf in which they now lay gradually contracted its dimensions till it terminated in the mouth of a mighty river
named Hochelaga, flowing from a vast distance in the
interior of a great continent ; that two days' sail above
Anticosti would bring them to the kingdom of Saguenay,
beyond which, along the bank of the same river, was a
populous territory, situated at its highest known point,
where the stream was only navigable by small boats.
Having received this information, Cartier sailed onwards,
exploring both sides of the river, and opening a communication with the inhabitants by means of the natives whom
he carried along with him. The good effects of this arrangement were soon seen ; for at first they fled in great alarm
upon the approach of any of the ships' crews ; • but on hearing the interpreters cry out that they were Taighaogny and
Domagaia—names which seemed to inspire immediate ideas
of friendliness and confidence—they suddenly turned back ;
after which they began to dance and rejoice, running away
with great speed, and soon returning with eels, fishes, grain,
and musk-melons, which they cast into the boats with gestures expressive of much kindness and courtesy."* This
soon led to a more intimate and interesting intercourse ;
and on the following day the lord of the country, who was
named Donnaconna, made a formal visit to the admiral's
ship, accompanied by twelve boats, in which were a great
multitude of his subjects. On approaching the vessel, he
ordered ten of these boats to ship their paddles and remain
stationary, while he himself, with the other two boats, and
attended by a suite of sixteen of his subjects, advanced over
* Eamusio, vol. iii., p. 441. CARTIER S SECOND VOYAGE.
against the smallest of the French ships, and standing up,
commenced a long oration, throwing his body into a variety
of strange and uncouth postures, which were afterwards
discovered to be signs indicating gladness and security.
Donnaconna now came aboard the admiral's ship, and an
enthusiastic interview took place between him and the two
savages who had been in France.* They recounted with
much gesticulation the extraordinary things which they
had seen in that country, dwelling on the kind entertainment they had experienced ; and after many expressive
looks of wonder and gratitude, the king entreated the admiral to stretch out his arm, which he kissed with devotion,
laying it fondly upon his neck, and showing, by gestures
which could not be mistaken, that he wished to make much,
of him. Cartier, anxious to evince an equal confidence,
entered Donnaconna's boat, carrying with him a collation
of bread and wine, with which the monarch was much
pleased; and the French, returning to their ships, ascended
the river ten leagues, till they arrived at a village where»
this friendly potentate usually resided, and which was named
Stadacona. " It was," according to the original account of
Cartier, " as goodly a plot of ground as possibly might be
seen, very fruitful, and covered with noble trees similar to
those of France, such as oaks, elms, ashes, walnut trees,
maple trees, citrons, vines, and white thorns which brought
forth fruit like damsons, and beneath these woods grew as
good hemp as any in France, without its being either planted .
or cultivated by man's labour."*
From this time the intercourse between the French and
Donnaconna continued with every expression of friendliness ;
but on hearing that the admiral had determined to go to
Hochelaga, a sudden jealousy appeared to seize him lest he
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 443.
t Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 216.
Seconda Eelatione di Jacques Cartier. 1535.]
and his people should be deprived of the advantages of an
uninterrupted communication with the white strangers, and
every possible device was put in execution to deter them
.from their purpose. One of these stratagems was so ludi-
. crous, that we may be permitted to give Cartier's account
of it in an abridgment of the quaint translation of Hakluyt :
" The next day, being the 18th of September, these men
still endeavoured to seek all means possible to hinder us
from going to Hochelaga, and for this purpose devised a
pretty guile : They went and dressed three men like devils,
being wrapped in dogs' skins, white and black, with their
faces besmeared as black a3 a coal, and horns upon their
heads more than a yard long." These figures they caused
to be secretly put into one of the boats, which they concealed within a winding of the wooded bay, waiting patiently
for the tide. When the proper moment had arrived, a
multitude of the boats, crowded with natives and conducted
by Taignaogny, suddenly emerged from the creek ; on a
signal given, the boat in which were the counterfeit devils
came rushing out of its concealment, and the middlemost
devil standing up, made a long oration, addressed to the
French ships, of which of course every syllable was unintelligible. "Then," to resume the words of Hakluyt, " did
King Donnaconna with all his people pursue them, and lay
hold on the boat and devils, who, so soon as the men were
come to them, fell prostrate as if they had been dead ; upon
which they were taken up and carried into the wood, being
but a stonecast off, at which time every one of the savages
withdrew himself into the wood, and when there began to
make a long discourse, so loud that it was easy for the
French to hear them even in their ships. When this oration or debate, which lasted for half an hour, was ended,
Cartier and his crew espied Taignaogny and Domagaia
coming towards them, holding their hands joined together, 40
carrying their hats under their upper garment, showing a
great admiration, and looking up to heaven. Upon this
the captain hearing them, and seeing their gestures and
ceremonies, asked them what they ailed, and what was
happened or chanced anew, to which they answered that
there were very ill tidings befallen, saying in their broken
French, ' Nenni est il bon,' that is to say, it was not good.
Our captain asked them again what it was, and then they
answered that their god Cudraigny had spoken in Hoche-
laera, and that he had sent those three devils to show unto
them that there was so much ice and snow in that country,
that whosoever went there should die ; which words when
the French heard, they laughed and mocked them, saying
that their god Cudraigny was but a fool and a noddie, for
he knew not what he said or did. They bade them also
carry their compliments to his messengers, and inform them
that the god whom they served would defend them from all
cold if they would only believe in him."*
Having thus failed in the object intended to be gained by
this extraordinary masquerade, the savages offered no farther
opposition, and the French proceeded in their pinnace and
two boats up the River St. Lawrence towards Hochelaga.
They found the country on both sides extremely rich and
beautifully varied, covered with fine wood, and abounding
in vines, though the grapes, from want of cultivation, were
neither so large nor so sweet as those of France. The
prevalent trees were the same as in Europe—oaks, elms,
walnut, cedar, fir, ash, box, and willow ; and the natives on
each side of the river, who appeared to exercise principally
the trade of fishermen, entered into an intercourse with the
strangers as readily and kindly as if they had been their
own countrymen.    One of the lords of the country did not
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 218 ; and Eamusio, vol. Hi, p. 444. 1535.]
scruple, after a short acquaintance, to make a present to
Cartier of two of his children, one of whom, a little girl oi
seven or eight years old, he carried away with him, whilst
he returned the other, a boy, who was considered too young
to travel. They saw great variety of birds, almost all of
which were the same as those of Europe. Cranes, swans,
geese, ducks, pheasants, partridges, thrushes, blackbirds,
turtles, finches, red-breasts, nightingales, and sparrows of
divers kinds, were observed, besides many other birds.
By this time the river had become narrow, and in some
places dangerous in its navigation, owing to the rapids; and
the French, who had still three days' sailing before them,
left their pinnace and took to their boats, in which, after a
prosperous passage, they reached the city of Hochelaga.
It consisted of about fifty houses, built in the midst of large
and fair corn-fields near a great mountain, which the French
called Mont Royale, corrupted By time into Montreal, which
name the place still retains ; whilst the original American
designation of Hochelaga has been long since forgotten.
The city, according to Cartier's ^description, was round,
compassed about with timber, and with three courses of
ramparts, one within another, framed like a sharp spire,
but laid across above. The enclosure which surrounded
the town was in height about two roods, having but one
gate, which was shut with piles, stakes, and bars. Over
it, and also in various parts of the wall, were places to run
along, and ladders to get up, with magazines or heaps of
stones for its defence. The houses were entirely of wood,
with roofs of bark very artificially joined together. Each
house had a court in the midst of it, and consisted of many
rooms, whilst the family lighted their fire in the centre of
the court, and during the day all lived in common ; at night
the husbands, wives, and children, retired to their several
chambers.   At the top of the house were garners where
■  ' :! 42
they kept their corn, which was something like the millet
of Brazil, and called by them carracony. They had also
stores of pease and beans, with musk-melons and great
cucumbers. Many large butts were observed in their
houses, in which they preserved their dried fish ; but this,
as well as all their other victuals, they dressed and ate
without salt. They slept upon beds of bark spread on the
ground, with coverings of skins similar to those of which
their clothes were made.*
The reception of the French by the inhabitants of Hochelaga was in a high degree friendly ; and indeed such was
the extent of their credulity and admiration, that they considered the strangers as possessed of miraculous power, and
their commander a divine person. This was shown by their
bringing their king, Agonhanna, an infirm paralytic about
fifty years of age, to be touched, and, as they trusted, cured
by the admiral, earnestly importuning him by expressive
gestures, to rub his arms and legs ; after which the savage
monarch took the wreath or crown which he wore upon his
head, and gave it to Cartier. Soon after this they brought
with them all the diseased and aged folks whom they could
collect, and besought him to heal them ; on which occasion
his conduct appears to have been that of a man of sincere
piety. He neither arrogated to himself miraculous powers,
nor did. he altogether refuse their earnest request ; but read,
from the Gospel of St. John, the passion of our Saviour,
and praying that the Lord would be pleased to open the
hearts of these forlorn pagans, and teach them to know the
truth, he laid his hands upon them, and making the sign of
the cross,, left the issue of their being healed or not in the
hand of their Creator.-r
*■ Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 445 ; and Hakluyt, vol. iii. pp. 220, 221.
f Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 448. 1535.]
On inquiring into their religious tenets, he found that
they were buried in the deepest ignorance and superstition,
unacquainted with the existence of the only true God, and
substituting in his place a capricious and horrid being of
their own imaginations, named Cudraigny. They affirmed
that he often spoke to them, and told them what kind of
weather they were to have; but, if angry, would punish
them by throwing dust in their eyes. They had a strange
and confused idea regarding the immortality of the soul,
believing that after death they went to the stars, and descended like these bright sparks by degrees to the horizon,,
where they wandered about in delicious green fields, which
were full of the most precious trees, and profusely sown
with fruits and flowers. Cartier explained as well as he
could the folly of iuch a creed, persuaded them that Cudraigny was no god, but a devil, and at bis departure promised to return again, and bring some good and holy men,
who would instruct them in the knowledge of the true and
only God, and baptize them in the name of his Son, with
which they declared themselves well pleased.* "There
groweth here," sscfa Cartier, " a certain kind of herb, of
which during the summer they collect a great quantity for
winter consumption, esteeming it much, and only permitting men to use it in the following manner : It is first
dried in the sun; after which they wear it about their
necks, wrapped in a little skin made in the shape of a bag,
along with a hollow piece of stone or of wood formed like a
pipe; after this they bruise it into a powder, which is
put into one of the ends of the said cornet or pipe,
and laying a coal of fire upon it at the other end, they
suck so long that they fill their bodies rail of smoke
till it comes out of their mouth and nostrils, even as
Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 449. CARTIEr's SECOND VOYAGE.
out of the tunnel of a chimney. They say that this
keeps them warm and in health, and never go without
some of it about them." It is not impossible that the
reader, perplexed by this laboriously minute description, may have failed to recognise in it the first acquaintance made by the French with the familiar and far-famed
plant of tobacco.*
Not long after this the ships' crews were seized with a
loathsome and dreadful disease, caught, as they supposed,
from the natives, which carried off twenty-five men, reducing the survivors to a state of pitiable weakness and suffering. The malady was then new to Europeans ; but the
symptoms detailed by Cartier—swollen legs, extreme debility, putrified gums, and discoloration of the skin and
blood—leave no doubt that this " strange, unknown," and
cruel pestilence, was the scurvy, since so fatally familiar to
the European mariner. Providentially, however, they discovered from the savages a cure in the decoction of the
leaves and bark of a species of tree called in their language hannida, and since well known as the North American white pine. " This medicine," says Cartier, " worked
so well, that if all the physicians of Montpelier and Lou-
.vain had been there with all the drugs of Alexandria, they
would not have done so much in one year as that tree did
in six days."-}-
The French began now to make preparations for their
departure ; but a dishonourable plot was first carried into
execution, by which they succeeded in seizing Donnaconna,
whose usefulness and liberality to them during their residence in Canada merited a more generous return. The
monarch, however, with the exception of a slight personal
restraint to prevent escape, was treated with kindness, and
* Bamusio, vol. iii. p. 449.
f Ibid. p. 451. 1536.]
soon became reconciled to his journey to Europe, although
his subjects, inconsolable for his loss, came nightly howling
like wolves about the ships, till assured he was in safety.
Along' with Donnaconna were secured Taignaogny and
Domagaia, who had already been in France; and after a
prosperous voyage, the French ships arrived at St. Malo on
the 6th July 1536.* It might have been expected that,
after a discovery of such magnitude and importance, immediate measures would have been adopted to appropriate
and colonize this fertile, populous, and extensive country.
This seemed the more likely, as the arrival of Cartier and
the introduction of the Indian king at court created an
extraordinary sensation; yet notwithstanding the manifest
advantages, both commercial and political, likely to result
from a settlement in Canada, the weak and shallow prejudice which at this time prevailed in most of the nations
of Europe, that no countries were valuable except such
as produced gold and silver, threw a damp over the
project, and for nearly four years the French monarch
would listen to no proposals for the establishment of a
Private adventure at length came forward to accomplish
that which had been neglected by royal munificence, and
the Sieur de Roberval, a nobleman of Picardy, requested
permission of Francis I. to pursue the discovery, and
attempt to form a settlement in the country. This 'the
king readily granted; and as Roberval was opulent, the
preparations were made on a great scale. He was created
by Francis, on the 15th January 1540, Lord of Norim-
bega, Lieutenant-General and Viceroy in Canada, Hochelaga, Saguenay, Newfoundland, Belleisle, Carpon, Labrador, the Great Bay, and Baecalaos—empty and ridiculous
Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 453.
HIS 46
titles, which, if merited by any one, ought to have been
conferred upon Cartier. This eminent navigator, however,
was only permitted to accept a subordinate command; and
as Roberval, who wished to appear with splendour in his
new dominions, was detained in fitting out two vessels
which were his own property, Cartier was ordered to sail
before him with the five ships already prepared. He
accordingly did so ; hut Donnaconna, the Canadian king,
had died in France, and the savages, justly incensed at
the breach of faith by which they lost their sovereign,
received the French with an altered countenance, devising
conspiracies against them, that soon led to acts of open
hostility. The French now built for their defence, near
the present site of Quebec, a fort, which they named
Charlesbourg, being the first European settlement formed
in that part of America. After a long interval, Roberval
arrived at Newfoundland; but a jealousy had broken out
between him and Cartier, who took the first opportunity
during the night to part from his principal, and return with
his squadron to France. This of course gave a death-blow
to the whole undertaking, for Roberval was nothing without Cartier; and, after some unsuccessful attempts to discover a passage to the East Indies, he abandoned the
enterprise, and returned to his native country. The passion for adventure, however, again seized him" in 1549,
and he and his brother, one of the bravest men of his time,
set sail on a voyage of discovery; but they shared the
fate of Verazzano and the Cortereals, being never again
heard of. These disasters effectually checked the enthusiasm of France, whilst in England, the country to whose
enterprise we have seen Europe indebted for her first
acquaintance with the American continent, the spirit of
maritime discovery appeared for some years almost totally
extinct. 1537.]
The plan of this historical disquisition now leads us to
the examination of some remarkable enterprises of the
Spaniards for the extension of their immense dominions in
the New World, along the more northern coasts of America. The bold and comprehensive mind of Cortes, the
Conqueror of Mexico, not content with the acquisition of
that noble empire, formed the most extensive projects of
discovery. Alarmed at the attempts of the English to discover a northern passage to China and Cathay, he resolved
to make a careful survey of the whole coast, extending
from the River Panuco in Mexico to Florida, and thence
northwards to the Baecalaos, for the purpose of ascertaining
whether there might not exist in that quarter a communication with the South Sea. At the same time a squadron
in the Pacific was to sail along the western coast of America, and by these simultaneous researches he trusted to
find a strait affording a far shorter and easier route to
India and the Moluccas, and connecting together the vast
dominions of the Spanish crown.* Charles V., to whom
these proposals were presented, although willing to encourage every scheme for the extension of his power,
ungenerously threw upon their author the whole expense
of the undertaking; in consequence of which, the idea of
the voyage for the discovery of a north-west passage was
abandoned, and the magnificent designs for the conquest
of many great and opulent kingdoms sunk at last into the
equipment of two brigantines on the coast of the South
Sea, _ the command of which was intrusted to Diego de
Hurtado. This expedition ended calamitously in a mutiny
of one of the crews, who brought back their ship to
Xalisco : the fate of Hurtado was still more unfortunate,
for, although he continued his voyage, neither he nor any of
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 295.   Memoir of Cabot
& ç^a
his crew were ever more heard of. A second expedition,
intrusted by Cortes to two Spanish captains, Grijalva and
Mendoza, was scarcely more fortunate : The vessels were
separated on the first night of their voyage, and never
again joined company. Grijalva penetrated to an island
which he denominated Santa Tome, supposed to have been*
situated near the northern point of California, after which
he returned to Tehuantepec; whilst Mendoza, by his
haughty and tyrannical temper, having rendered himself
odious to his crew, was murdered by the pilot, Ximenes,
who assumed the command. Afraid of returning to Mexico,
the traitor sailed northward, and discovered the coast of
California, where he was soon after attacked and slain,
along with twenty of his crew, by the savage natives.*
The survivors, however, brought the vessel back to
Chiametta, with the tempting report that the coast abounded
in perils. Cortes now set out himself with a squadron of
three ships; and, although his vessels were dreadfully
shattered in a storm, pursued his voyage with his accustomed energy, till compelled to return by a summons from
Mexico, where the breaking out of serious disturbances
required his immediate presence. He intrusted, however,
the prosecution of the voyage to Francisco de Ulloa, and
this enterprising navigator, though at first obliged by want
of provisions to return to Mexico, re-victualled his ships,
and again set sail. The pious solemnity with which these
ancient mariners were accustomed to regard their proceedings, is strikingly shown by the first sentence of his journal:
—" We embarked," says he, " in the haven of Acapulco,
on the 8th of July, in the year of our Lord 1539, calling
upon Almighty God to guide us with his holy hand to those
places where he might be served, and his holy faith ad-
Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 364; and Eamusio, Viaggi, vol. iii. p. 355 1539.]
vanced ; and we sailed from the said port by the coast of
Sacatula and Motin, which is sweet and pleasant, owing to
the abundance of trees that grow there, and the rivers which
pass through these countries, for which we often thanked
God, their Creator."* A voyage of twenty days brought
The squadron to the harbour of Colima, from which they set
out on the 23d of August; and after encountering a tempest,
in which their ships were severely shattered, they stood
across the Gulf, of California, and came to the mouth of the
River St. Peter and St. Paul. On both sides of it were rich
and extensive plains, covered with beautiful trees in full
leaf; and farther within the land exceeding high mountains,
clothed with wood, and affording a charming prospect;
after which, in a course of fifteen leagues, they discovered
two other rivers as great, or greater than the Guadalquiver,
the currents of which were so strong that they might be
discerned three leagues off at sea.
Ulloa spent a year in examining the coasts and havens
on each side of the Gulf of California. In some places the
Spaniards found the inhabitants of great stature,-}- armed
with bows and arrows, speaking a language totally distinct
from anything they had hitherto heard in America, and
admirably dexterous in diving and swimming. On one
occasion the crews, who had landed, were attacked with
fierceness by two squadrons of Indians. These natives were
as swift as wild-goats, exceedingly strong and active, and
leaped from rock to rock, assaulting the Spaniards with
their arrows and javelins, which broke and pierced their
armour, and inflicted grievous wounds. It is well known
that this nation had introduced the savage practice of employing bloodhounds in their wars against the Mexicans,
and Ulloa now used some of these ferocious animals.   The
* Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 339.   Murray's North America, vol. ii. p. 68.
f Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 342. 50
Indians, however, discharged a shower of arrows against
them, "by which," says Ulloa, " Berecillo, our mastiff, who
should have assisted us, was grievously wounded by three
arrows, so that we could by no entreaty get him to leave
us ; the dog was struck in the first assault of the Indians,»
after he had behaved himself very gallantly, and greatly
aided us, having set upon them and put eight or ten of them
out of array. But the other mastiffs did us more harm than
good, for when they attacked the Indians, they shot at them
with their bows, and we received hurt and trouble in defending them."*
From this unfriendly coast the Spanish discoverer proceeded to the Baya del Abad, about a hundred leagues distant from the point of California, where he found a more
pacific people, who, though they exhibited great symptoms
of suspicion, were prevailed upon to traffic, exchanging
pearls and parrots' feathers for the beads and trinkets of the
strangers. So little, however, were they to be trusted, that
they afterwards assaulted the ships' crews, compelling them
to retreat to their vessels and pursue their voyage. They
now discovered, in 28° north latitude, a great island, which
they denominated the Isle of Cedars, taking possession of it
in the name of the Spanish monarch. It was inhabited by
a fierce race of Indians, powerful and well-made, and armed
with bows and arrows, besides javelins, and long staves
thicker than a man's wrist. With these they struck at the
sailors, braving them with signs and rude gestures, till at
last it was found necessary to let loose the two mastiffs,
Berecillo and Achillo ; upon which they suddenly took to
flight, flying over the rough ground with the speed of wild
horses.f Beyond this island the Spaniards attempted to
continue their discoveries along the coast of California ; but
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 409.   Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 345.
f Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 351.    Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 419. 1540.]
a tempest having driven them back and damaged their
vessels, they determined to return to New Spain. In their
homeward voyage they were in danger from a new and
extraordinary enemy ; for, when sailing in the main ocean
at a rapid rate, above five hundred whales, in separate
shoals, came athwart them within one hour's space. Their
monstrous size created great astonishment, some of them
approaching so near the ship, as to swim under the keel
from one side to the other, " whereupon," says Francis
Preciado, who wrote the relation of the voyage, " we were
in great fear lest they should do us some hurt ; but they
could not, because the ship had a prosperous and good wind,'
and made much way, so that it received no harm although
they touched and struck her."*
In this voyage, which for the first time made the world
acquainted with the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortes,
Ulloa had not been able to spend sufficient time either in a
survey of the coast, or in establishing an intercourse with
the natives. But not long after his return, Mendoza, the
viceroy of New Spain, despatched Friar Marco de Nica,
upon an expedition of discovery from C uleacan, at that time
the most northerly Spanish settlement, to a province called
Topira, situated in the mountains. The account brought
back of the riches and extent of the country, proved so
tempting to the ambition of the Spaniards, that soon after
Vasquez de Coronado, an officer of great courage and experience, was appointed by Mendoza to the command of a
large force, for the reduction of the new territory, whilst, to
co-operate with this land expedition, a naval armament was
fitted out, of which Ferdinand de Alarchon was appointed
admiral, with orders to explore the Gulf of California. As
far as conquest was intended, these mighty preparations
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 424. 52
conducted to no permanent results ; but the voyage of Alar-
chon led to some important discoveries.
After a survey of the lower part of the coast of the gulf,
he penetrated with much difficulty and hazard to the bottom
of the bay, where he found a mighty river, flowing with so
furious a current, that they could hardly sail against it.*
This was evidently the noble river now known by the name
of the Colorado, which has its rise in the great mountain-
range near the sources of the Rio Bravo del Norte, and
after a course of nine hundred miles falls into the head of
the Gulf of California. Alarchon determined to explore it;
and taking with him two boats, with twenty men and some
small pieces of artillery, he ascended to an Indian village,
the inhabitants of which, by violent and furious gestures,
dissuaded the Spaniards from landing. The party of natives,
at first small, soon increased to a body of two hundred and
fifty, drawn up Id, warlike fashion, with bows and arrows,
and displayed banners. The Spanish admiral appeased
them by signs, throwing his sword and target into the
bottom of the boat, and placing his feet upon them. "They
began," says he, in his letter to the viceroy Mendoza, " to
make a great murmuring among themselves, when suddenly
one came out from among them with a staff, upon which he
had fixed some small shells, and entered into the water to
give them to me. I took them, and made signs to him that
he should approach. On his doing so I embraced him,
giving him in exchange some trinkets, and he returning to
his fellows, they began to look upon them and to parley
together ; and within a while many of them cheerfully approached, to whom I made signs that they should lay down
their banners and leave their weapons; which they did
immediately."    Alarchon gives a minute description of the
* Eamusio, Viaggi, vol. iii. p. 363. 1542.]
dress, weapons, and appearance of these Indians. They
were decked after sundry fashions : the faces of some were
covered with tattooed marks, extending lengthwise from the
forehead to the chin; others had only half the face thus
ornamented ; but all were besmeared with coal, and every
one as it liked him best. Others carried vizards before
them, which had the shape of faces.* They wore on then-
heads a piece of deerskin two spans broad, like a helmet,
ornamented by various sorts of feathers stuck upon small
sticks. Their weapons were bows and arrows, and two or
three kinds of maces of wood hardened in the fire. Their
features were handsome and regular, but disfigured by holes
bored through the nostrils, and in many parts of the ears,
on which were hung pendants, shells, and bones. About
their loins was a girdle of divers colours, with a large bunch
of feathers in the middle, which hung down like a tail.
They cut their hair short before, but allowed it behind to
grow down to their waist. Their bodies were tattooed with
coals, and the women wore round their waist a great wreath
of painted feathers, glued together, and hanging down both
before and behind.-}-
Having procured by signs a pacific reception from this
new people, Alarchon found to his mortification that they
did not understand his interpreter ; but after a little intercourse, observing that they worshipped the sun, he unscrupulously intimated to them by significant gestures, that
he came from that luminary; "upon which they marvelled,"
says he, " and began to survey me from top to toe, and
showed me more favour than they did before." Soon after
this a man was found among them who could speak the
language of the interpreter ; and an intercourse of a very
* Such is the translation of Hakluyt ; but the passage in the original
is obscure,
t Eamusio, vol. iii. p. 364. 54
extraordinary nature took place, in which the honesty and
simplicity of the Indians are strikingly contrasted with the
false and unprincipled policy of the Spaniards. The passage
is uncommonly graphic and interesting : " The Indian first
desired to know what nation we were, and whence we came ?
Whether we came out of the water, or inhabited the earth,
or had fallen from the heaven?" ■ To this the admiral replied, that they were Christians, and came from far to see
them, being sent by the sun, to which he pointed. " After
this introduction, the Indian," continues Alarchon in his
account of the voyage, " began again to ask me how the
sun had sent me, seeing he went aloft in the sky and never
stood still, and for these many years neither they nor their
oldest men had ever seen sueh as we were, and the sun till
that hour had never sent any other. I answered him, it
was true the sun pursued his course aloft in the sky, and
never stood still, but nevertheless they might perceive that
at his setting and rising he came near the earth, where his
dwelling was, and that they always saw him come out of
One place ; and he had created me in that land whence he
came, in the same way that he had made many others whom
he sent into other parts ; and now he had desired me to
visit this same river, and the people who dwelt near it, that
I might speak with them, and become their friend, and give
them such things as they needed, and charge them not to
make war against each other. On this he required me to
tell them the cause why the sun had not sent me sooner to
pacify the wars which had continued a long time among
them, and wherein many had been slain. I told him the
reason was, that I was then but a child. He next inquired
why we brought only one interpreter with us who comprehended our language, and wherefore we understood not all
other men, seeing we were children of the sun ? To which
our interpreter answered, that the sun had also begotten 1542.]
him, and given.him a language to understand him, his
master the admiral, and others; the sun knew well that they
dwelt there, but because that great light had many other
businesses, and because his master was but young, he sent
him no sooner. The Indian interpreter," continues Alarchon, " then turning to me, said suddenly, ' Comest thou,
therefore, to be our lord, and that we should serve thee?'
To which I answered, I came not to be their lord, but
rather their brother, and to give them such things as I had.
He then inquired whether I was the sun's kinsman, or his
child ? To which I replied I was his son, but those who
were with me, though all born in one country, were not his
children ; upon which he raised his voice loudly and said,
i Seeing thou doest us so much good, and dost not wish us
to make war, and art the child of the sun, we will all receive thee for our lord, and always serve thee ; therefore we
pray thee not to depart hence and leave us.' After which he
suddenly turned to the people, and began to tell them that
I was the child of the sun, and therefore they should all
choose me for their lord."* The Indians appeared to be
well pleased with this proposal, and assisted the Spaniards
in their ascent of the river to the distance of eighty-five
leagues ; but finding it impossible to open a communication
with the army under Coronado, Alarchon put about his
ships, and returned to Mexico.-}-
After the expeditions of Coronado and Alarchon in 1542,
the spirit of enterprise amongst the Spaniards experienced
some check, owing probably to the feeling of mortification
and disappointment which accompanied the return of these
officers. Yet Mendoza, unwilling wholly to renounce the
high hopes he had entertained, despatched a small squadron
under Rodriguez Cabrillo, which traced the yet undiscovered
5 Hakluyt, vol. iii. n. 429.   Eamusio, vol.
f Hakluyt, vol. iii. pp. 438, 439.
n. p. OOO. 56
coast of North America some degrees beyond Cape Mendocino; and in 1596 and 1602, Sebastian Viscaino extended
these discoveries along the coast of New Albion to a river
which appears to have been the present Columbia. It has
even been asserted by some authors, that, four years prior
to the voyage of Viscaino, Juan de Fuca, a veteran Spanish
pilot, conducted a ship beyond the mouth of the Columbia,
and doubling Cape Flattery, entered the Straits of Georgia,
through which he passed till he came to Queen Charlotte's
Sound. De Fuca imagined, not unnaturally, considering
the imperfect and limited state of geographical knowledge,
that he had now sailed through the famous and fabulous
Strait of Anian; and that, instead of being in the Pacific,
as he then actually was, he had conducted his vessel into
the spacious expanse of the Atlantic. With this information he returned to Acapulco; but the Spanish viceroy
received him coldly, and withheld all encouragement or
reward—a circumstance to which we may perhaps ascribe
the cessation from this period of all farther attempts at
discovery by this nation upon the north-west coast of America. The whole voyage of De Fuca, however, rests on
apocryphal authority.
Sussian and English Voyages.
Behring—Tchirikow—Cook— and Chaire—Meares—Vancouver—
As the zeal oi the Spanish Government in extending their
discoveries upon the north-west coast of America abated,
another great nation, hitherto scarcely known to Europe, 1717.]
undertook at a later period the task which they had abandoned.    Russia, within little more than half a century, had
grown up from a collection of savage, undisciplined, and
unconnected tribes, into a mighty people.   Her conquests
had spread with amazing rapidity till they embraced the
whole of the north of Asia, and under the energetic administration of Peter the Great, this empire assumed at once
that commanding influence in the scale of European nations
which it has continued to preserve till the present times.
Amongst the many great projects of this remarkable man,
the solution of the question, whether Asia, on the northeast, was united with America, occupied a prominent place;
and it appears that during his residence in Holland in 1717,
he had been solicited by some of the most eminent patrons
of discovery amongst the- Dutch to institute an expedition
to investigate the subject.    The resolution he then formed,
to set this great point at rest by a voyage of discovery,
was never abandoned; but his occupation in war, and the
multiplicity of those state affairs which engrossed his attention, caused him to delay its execution from year to. year,
till he was seized with his last illness.    Upon his deathbed he wrote, with his own hand, instructions to Admiral
Apraxin, and an order to have them carried into immediate
execution.   They directed, first, that one or two boats with
decks should be built at Kamtschatka, or at any other convenient place; secondly, that with these a survey should
be made of the mo3t northerly coasts of his Asiatic empire,
to determine whether they were or were not contiguous to
America; and, thirdly, that the persons to whom the expedition was entrusted should endeavour to ascertain whether
on these coasts there was any port belonging to Europeans,
and keep a strict look-out for any European ship, taking
care also to employ some skilful men in making inquiries
regarding the name and situation of the coasts which they 58
discovered—of all which they were to keep an exact journal, and transmit it to St. Petersburg.
Upon the death of Peter the Great, which happened
shortly after these instructions were drawn up, the Empress
Catherine entered fully into his views, and gave orders to
fit out an expedition for their accomplishment. The command was intrusted to Captain Vitus Behring. Under his
orders were two lieutenants, Martin Spangberg and Alexi
Tchmkow; and, besides other subaltern officers, they engaged several excellent ship-carpenters. On the 5th of
February 1725 they set out from St. Petersburg, and on
the 16th March arrived at Tobolsk, the capital of Siberia.
After a survey of the rivers Irtisch, Ob, Ket, Jenesei, Tun-
gusca, and Him, they wintered at Him, and, in the spring of
1726, proceeded down the river Lena to Jakutzk. The
naval stores and part of the provisions were now intrusted
to Lieutenant Spangberg, who embarked on the Juduma,
intending to sail from it into the Maia, and then by the
Aldan into the Lena. He was followed by Captain Behring,
who proceeded by land with another part of the stores, whilst
Lieutenant Tchirikow staved at Jakutzk, with the design
of transporting the remainder overland. The cause of this
complicated division of labour was the impassable nature
of the country between Jakutzk and Ochotzk, which is
impracticable for waggons in summer, or for sledges during
winter. Such, indeed, were the difficulties of transporting
these large bales of provisions, that it was the 30th July
1727 before the whole business was completed. In the
meantime a vessel had been built at Ochotzk, in which the
naval stores were conveyed to Bolscheretzkoi in Kamts-
chatka. From this they proceeded to Nischnei Kamts-
chatkoi Ostrog, where a boat was built similar to the
packet-boats used in the Baltic. After the necessary
articles were shipped, Captain Behring, determining no 1727.]
longer to delay the most important part of his enterprise,
set sail from the mouth of the River Kamtschatka on the
14th of July, steering north-east, and for the first time
laying down a survey of this remote and desolate coast.
When they reached the latitude of 64° 30', eight men of
the wild tribe of the Tschuktschi pushed off from the coast
in a leathern canoe, called a baidar, formed of seal-skins,
and fearlessly approached the Russian ship. A communication was immediately opened by means of a Koriak interpreter; and, on being invited, they came on board without hesitation. By these natives Behring was informed
that the coast turned towards the west. On reaching the
promontory called Serdze Kamen, the accuracy of this
information was established, for the land was seen extending a great way in a western direction—a circumstance
from which Behring somewhat too hastily concluded, that
he had reached the extremest northern point of Asia.
He was of opinion that thence the coast must run to the
west, and therefore no junction with America could take
place. Satisfied that he had now fulfilled his orders, he
returned to the River Kamtschatka, and again took up his
winter-quarters at Nischnei Kamtschatkoi Ostrog*
In this voyage it was conjectured by Behring and his
officers, from the reports of the Kamtschadales, that in all
probability another country must be situated towards the
east, at no great distance from Serdze Kamen; yet no immediate steps were taken either to complete the survey of
the most northerly coasts of Ochozkoi, or to explore the
undiscovered region immediately opposite the promontory.
In the course of a campaign, however, against the fierce
and independent nation of the Tschuktschi, Captain Paw-
lutzki penetrated by the Rivers Nboina, Bela, and Tcherna,
* Harris's Collection of Voyages, vol. ii. pp. 1020,
Eussian Discoveries, pp. 23, 24, 94. PAWLUTZKI S EXPEDITION.
to the borders of the Frozen Sea; and, after defeating the
enemy in three battles, passed in triumph to a promontory
supposed to be the Tgchukotzkoi Noss. From this point
he sent part of his little army in canoes, whilst he himself
conducted the remaining division by land round the promontory, taking care to march along the sea-coast, and to
communicate every evening with his canoes. In this manner Pawlutzki reached the promontory which is conjectured
to have been the farthest limit of Behring's voyage, and
thence by an inland route returned, on 21st October 1730,
to Anadirsk, having advanced an important step in ascertaining the separation between America and the remote
north-westerly coast of Asia.
Although the separation of the two continents had been
thus far fixed, a wide field of discovery yet remained unexplored; and in 1741, Behring, Spangberg, and Tchirikow,
once more volunteered their services for this purpose.
These offers were immediately accepted; the captain was
promoted to the rank of a commander, the two lieutenants
were made captains, and instructions drawn up for the conduct of the expedition, in which it was directed that the
destination of the voyages should be eastward to the continent of America, and southward to Japan, whilst, at the
same time, an endeavour was to be made for the discovery
of that northern passage through the Frozen Sea which
had been so repeatedly but unsuccessfully attempted by
other European nations. The voyage to Japan, under the
command of Captain Spangberg and Lieutenant Walton,
was eminently successful ;. and one of its material results
was the correction of a geographical error of considerable
magnitude, by which that island had hitherto been placed
under the same meridian as Kamtschatka instead of 11°
more to the westward. The expedition of Behring, no less
important and satisfactory, was destined to be fatal "to its
IP»*J 1741.]
excellent commander. After a winter spent in the harbour
of Awatscha, or Petropalauska, on the west side of the great
peninsula of Kamtschatka, Behring got his stores on board
the two packet-boats built at Ochotzk, expressly for the
intended American discoveries. The first of these, the St.
Peter, was that in which the commander embarked; the
second, the St. Paul, was intrusted to Captain Tchirikow.
Along with Behring went Lewis de Lisle de la Croyere,
Professor of Astronomy, whilst Mr. George William Stel-
ler, an experienced chemist and botanist, accompanied
All things being ready, a council of officers was held, in
which the question regarding the course they should steer
was considered, and it happened, unfortunately for the expedition, that an important error had crept into the map
presented by the Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg
to the Senate, in laying down a coast south-east from
Awatscha, extending fifteen degrees from west to east,
whilst no land was marked due east. At this spot were
written on the map the words " Land seen by Don Jean
de Gama;" and, trusting to the accuracy of this information,
it was determined to steer first south-east by east, in the
hope of discovering this continent; after which they might
follow its coasts as a guide towards the north and east.
On the 4th of June 1741 they accordingly weighed anchor,
and steered south-east by south, till, on the 12th, they found
themselves in latitude 46°, without the slightest appearance
of the coast of De Gama. Convinced at last of their error,
they held on a northerly course as far as 50° north latitude,
and were just about to steer due east, with the hope of
reaching the continent of America, when the two ships
were separated in a violent storm accompanied by a thick
fog. Behring exerted every effort to rejoin his consort;
but all proved in vain.   He cruised for three days between 62
50° and 51° north latitude, after which he steered back to
the south-east as far as 45°; but Tchirikow, after the storm,
had taken an easterly course from 48° north latitude, so
that they never met again.
Both, however, pursued their discoveries simultaneously,
and on the 15th of July, being in 56° north latitude, Tchirikow reached the coast of America. The shore proved to
be steep and rocky, and in consequence of the high surf,
he did not venture to approach it; but anchoring in deep
water, despatched his mate, Demetiew, with the long-boat
and ten men, on shore. The boat was provisioned for some
days, the men armed and furnished with minute instructions as to their mode of proceeding, and the signals by
which they were to communicate with the ship. But neither mate, men, nor barge, were ever again heard o£ This
was the more mysterious, as all at first appeared to go well
with them. The barge was seen from the ship to row into
a bay behind a small cape, and the appointed signals were
made, intimating that she had landed in safety. Day after
day the signals agreed on continued from the shore. The
people on board began at last to think that the barge had
probably received damage in landing, and could not return till she was repaired; and it was resolved to send the
small boat on shore, with the boatswain Sawelow and six
men. • Amongst these were some carpenters and a careener,
well armed and provided with the necessary materials;
and the boatswain had orders to return with Demetiew in
the long-boat the moment the necessary repairs were completed. But neither mate nor boatswain ever came back;
and the most dark surmises of their fate were excited by
the cessation of the signals, and the continual ascent of a
large volume of smoke from the landing-place. Next day,
however, a revival of hope was felt at the sight of twT
boats which were observed rowing from the land towards 1741.]
the ship. It was believed to be Demetiew and Sàwelow;
and Tchirikow ordered all hands on deck, to prepare for
setting sail on a moment's warning. A few minutes
changed these cheerful anticipations into sorrow; for, as
the boats approached, it was discovered that they were
filled by American savages, who, seeing many persons
on deck, instantly shipped their paddles and remained at a
cautious distance. They then stood up, and crying with a
loud voice " Agai, agai!" returned with great speed to the
shore. A strong west wind now rose, and threatened to
dash the vessel on the rocky coast, so that they were obliged
to weigh anehor and put to sea without the slightest hope
of hearing any farther intelligence of their men ; for they
had no more small boats, and all communication with the
shore was cut off. Tchirikow, however, cruised some days
in the neighbourhood, and when the weather became milder,
returned towards the spot where his people landed ; but all
appeared silent, lonely, and uninhabited ; and in a council
of the officers, it was determined to set out on their return,
though with the most poignant regret at being obliged to
leave this remote and desolate coast without hearing the
slightest account of their companions. They arrived at
Kamtschatka on the 27th of July.* No news of the fate
of Demetiew and Sawelow ever reached Russia ; but it is
evident that they had been successively attacked and murdered by the savages. " The natives of this part of the
north-west coast of America," says Captain Burney, "live
principally by hunting and catching game, in which occupations they are in the continual practice of every species
of decoy. They imitate the whistlings of birds,—they
have carved wooden masks resembling the heads of animals,
which they put on over their own, and enter the woods in
* Muller, Découvertes faites par les Susses, vol. i. p. 244. 64
masquerade. They had observed the signals made to the
ship by the Russian boat which first came to land ; and the
continuance of signals afterwards seen and heard by the
Russians onboard were doubtless American imitations."*
Exactly three days after Tchirikow descried land, it
appears that Commodore Behring also got sight of the
continent in 58° 28", or, according to another account 60°'
north latitude. The prospect was magnificent and awful,
exhibiting high mountains covered from the summits with
snow. One of these, far inland, was particularly remarked :
It was plainly discernible sixteen German miles out at sea;
and Steller says in his journal, that in all Siberia he had
not met with a more lofty mountain.-}- The commodore,
being much in want of water, approached the coast with
the hope of being able to land. He accordingly reached
the shore on the 20th July, and anchored under a large
island not far from the continent. A point of land projecting
into the sea at this place they called St Elias. Cape, as it
was discovered on that saint's day; whilst another headland
was denominated St. Hermogenes ; and between these lay a
bay, in which, if it became necessary to take shelter, they
trusted they would find security. Two boats were now
launched, in the first of which, Kytrof, the master of the
fleet, was sent to examine the bay, whilst Steller proceeded
with the other to fetch water. Kytrof found a convenient
anchorage; and on an adjacent island were a few empty
huts formed of smooth boards, ornamented in some places
with rude carving. Within the huts they picked up a small
box of poplar, a hollow earthen ball in which a stone rattled,
conjectured to be a child's toy, and a whetstone, on which it
appeared that copper knives had been sharpened.^   Steller,
* Burney's History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery, p. 180
t Ibid. p. 164.
$ Coxe's Eussian Discoveries, pp. 42, 43. 1741.]
on the other hand, near the spot where he landed, discovered
a cellar in which was a store of red salmon, and a sweet
herb dressed for food in the same manner as in Kamtschatka. Near them were ropes, and various pieces of
household furniture and of domestic utensils. At a short
distance he came to a place where the savages had recently
dined; beside which they found an arrow, and an instrument for procuring fire exactly similar to that used for the
same purpose in Kamtschatka. The sailors who fetched
the fresh water had found two fire-places with the ashes
newly extinguished, and near them a paroel of hewn wood,
with some smoked fishes like largej carp. They observed
also marks of human footsteps in the grass, but no natives
were seen. In case, however, they should return, some
small presents, such as it was conjectured might be suited
to their taste or their wants, were1 left in the huts. These
consisted of a piece of green glazed linen, two iron kettles,
two knives, two iron Chinese tobacco-pipes, a pound of
tobacco leaves, and twenty large glass beads. Steller, an
enthusiastic naturalist, entreated that he might have the
command of the small boat and a few men, to complete a
more accurate survey of this new coast; but Behring, who
was from his advanced age rather timid and over-cautious,
put a decided negative upon the proposal; and his scientific
companion, having climbed a steep rook to obtain a view
of the adjacent country, found his progress interrupted by
an immediate order to come aboard. " On descending the
mountain," says he in his journal, " which was overspread
with a forest without any traces of a road, finding it impassable, I reascended, looked mournfully at the limits of
my progress, turned my eyes towards the continent which
it was not in my power to explore, and observed at the
distance of a few versts some smoke ascending from a
wooded eminence.    *    *    *    Again receiving a poai- 66
tive order to join the ship, I returned with my collection."*
Having put to sea next day, the 21st of July, they
found it impossible, according to their original intention, to
explore the coast as far as 65° north latitude, as it seemed
to extend indefinitely to the south-west. It was studded
with many small islands, the navigation through which,
especially during the night, was dangerous and tedious.
On the 30th of July they discovered, in latitude 56°, an
island, which they called Tumannoi Ostrog, or Foggy
Island ; and soon after the scurvy broke out with the most
virulent symptoms in the ship's crew : so that, in hopes of
procuring water, they again ran to the north, and soon discovered the continent, with a large group of islands near
the shore, between- which they came to anchor. These
they called the Schumagins, after the name of one of their
men who died there. Whilst at this anchorage the weather
became boisterous, and some brackish water procured from
one of the largest islands increased the virulence of the disease, which prevailed^) an alarming degree. All attempts
to put to sea proved for some days unsuccessful, owing to
the strong contrary winds; and at length one morning they
were roused by a loud cry from one of the islands, upon
which they saw a fire burning. Soon after, two Americans
rowed towards the ship in their canoes, which in shape
resembled those of Greenland and Davis' Strait. They
stopped, however, at some distance, and it was discovered
that they not only understood the language of the Calumet,
or Pipe of Peace, employed by the North American Indians,
but had these symbolical instruments along with them.
They were sticks with hawks' wings attached to one end.
It was at first impossible to induce the natives to come on
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, pp. 40, 41. 1741.]
board ; and Behring, anxious to establish a communication,
and to become acquainted with the country, despatched
Lieutenant Waxel in the boat, with nine men well armed,
amongst whom was a Tschuktschian or Koriak interpreter.
It was found, however, that the savages were utterly ignorant of his language; and Waxel having sent some men
on shore, who fastened the boat by a long rope passed
round a rock on the beach, commenced a friendly intercourse by means of signs. The Americans were disposed
to be on the most amicable terms with their new acquaintances, giving them whales' flesh, the only provision they
appeared to possess ; and at last one of them so far overcame his fears as to join the Russian lieutenant in the boat,
which still lay a little way from the shore. Anxious to
conciliate his favour and treat'him with distinction, Waxel
somewhat thoughtlessly presented him with a cup of brandy ;
but the effect proved the reverse of what was expected. He
made the most ludicrous wry faces, spit violently out of his
mouth all that he had not swallowed, and cried aloud to his
companions on the shore, complaining of the treatment he
had experienced. " Our men," says Mr. Steller in his
journal, " thought the Americans had sailors' stomachs, and
endeavoured to remove his disgust by presenting him with
a lighted pipe of tobacco, which he accepted; but he was
equally disgusted with his attempt to smoke. The most
civilized European would be affected in the same manner if
presented with toad-stool, or rotten fish and willow bark,
which are delicacies with the Kamtschadales W It was evident he had never tasted ardent spirits or smoked tobacco
till this moment ; and although every effort was made to
soothe him and restore his confidence, by offering him needles,
glass beads, an iron kettle, and other gifts, he would accept
Of nothing, and made the most eager and imploring signs
to be set on shore.   In this it was judged right to gratify 68
hkn, and Waxel, at the same time, called out to the sailors
who were on the beach to come back; the Americans made
a violent attempt to detain them, but two blunderbusses
were fired over their heads, and had the effect of making
them fall flat on the ground, whilst the Russians escaped
and rejoined their companions.
This adventure gave them an opportunity of examining
this new people, now for the first time visited by Europeans.
I The islanders were of moderate stature, but tolerably well
proportioned ; their arms and legs very fleshy. Their hair
Was straight, and of a glossy blackness ; their faces brown
and flat, but neither broad nor large; their eyes were
black, and their lips thick and turned upwards; their necks
were short, their shoulders broad, and their bodies thick,
but not corpulent. Their upper garment was made of
whales' intestines, their breeches of seals' skins, and their
caps formed out of the hide of sea-lions, adorned with
feathers of various birds, especially the hawk. Their nostrils were stopped with grass, and their noses as flat as
Calmucks' ; their faces painted, some with red, others with
different colours ; and some of them, instead of caps, wore
hats of bark, coloured green and red, open at the top, and
shaped like candle-screens, apparently for protecting the
eyes against the rays of the sun. These hats might lead
us to suppose that the natives of this part of America are
of Asiatic descent; for the Kamtschadales and Koriaks^
wear the like, of which several specimens may be seen in
the Museum at St. Petersburg."*
At this time, Behring being confined by severe sickness,
the chief command fell on Waxel, who was preparing to
sail, when seven Americans came in their boats to the
ship's side, and two of them, catching hold of the entrance-
* Coxe's Eussian Discoveries, p. 63.
mugi 1741.]
ladder, presented their bonnets, and a carved image of bone,
bearing some resemblance to a human figure. They likewise held up the calumet, and would have come aboard, but
the sailors were taking up the anchor, and the breeze freshening, they were under the necessity of making towards the
shore as quickly as possible. There was time, however, to
give a few presents, and as the ship passed by the point
where they stood, she was saluted with loud, and friendly
They had now to struggle against a tedious continuance
of westerly winds, accompanied with thick fogs, which rendered the navigation in these unknown seas perilous in the
extreme. On the 24th of September the mist cleared away,
and disclosed a high and desolate coast, which a strong
south wind made it dangerous to approach. The majority
of the crew were by this time disabled by the scurvy, and
the rest so weak, that to manage the vessel during the
tempestuous weather was almost impossible. A violent
gale soon after began to blow from the west, which gradually increased, and drove the ship far to the south-east.
The storm continued for seventeen days—a fact to which
there are few parallels in the history of shipwrecks ; and
the pilot, Andrew Hesselberg, who had served for fifty
years in several parts of the world, declared he had never
witnessed so long and terrible a gale. Meanwhile they
carried as little sail as possible, and were driven for a fortnight at the mercy of the wind, under a sky as black as
midnight, so that all the time they saw neither sun nor
stars. When the storm abated, they found themselves, by
the ship's reckoning, in 48° 18" north latitude. Steller,
in his journal, draws a striking picture of their extreme
misery :—" The general distress and mortality," says he,
* Burney's North-Eastern Voyages of Discovery, p. 170 70
" increased so fast, that not only the sick died, .but those
who still struggled to be numbered on the healthy list,
when relieved from their posts, fainted and fell down dead,
of which the scantiness of water, the want of biscuits and
brandy, cold, wet, nakedness, vermin, fear, and terror,
were not the least causes."* In these circumstances, it became difficult to determine whether they should return to
Kamtschatka or seek a harbour on the nearest American
coast. At last, in a council of officers, they embraced the
first of these alternatives, and again sailed north, after
which they steered towards the west.
On the 29th of October they approached two islands resembling the two first of the Kurilian group. The long-
wished-for coast of Kamtschatka, however, did not appear,
and the condition of the vessel and crew began to be
deplorable. The men, notwithstanding their diseased
state and want of proper food, were obliged to work in the
cold; and as the continual rains had now changed into hail
and snow, and the nights shortened and grew darker, their
sufferings were extreme. The commodore himself had
been for some time totally disabled by disease from taking
an active command, his wonted energy and strength of
mind left him, and he became childishly suspicious and
indolent. Amongst the seamen the sickness was so dreadful, that the two sailors whose berth used to be at the
rudder, were led to it by others, who themselves could
walk with difficulty. When one could steer no longer,
another equally feeble was supported to his place. Many
sails they durst not hoist, because no one was strong
enough to lower them in case of need, whilst some of the
sheets were so thin and rotten, that a violent wind would
have torn them to pieces.    The rest of this interesting but
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, p. 65.
'pm^mm 1741.]
deeply affecting voyage may be given in the excellent
abstract of Captain Burney :—" On November 4th, at eight
in the morning, they once more saw land; but only the
tops of the mountains at first appeared, and the shore was
so distant, that although they, stood towards it the whole
day, night came on before they could get near enough to
look for anchorage. At noon that day they made their
latitude by observation to be 56° north. On the morning
of the 5th, it was discovered that almost all the shrouds on
the starboard side of the; ship were broken, which happened
from contraction and tenseness caused by the frost; for,
without other mention made of the weather, it is complained that the cold was insupportable. In this distress,
the commodore ordered the lieutenant to call all the
officers together, to consult on their best mode of proceeding; and the increased numbers of the sick, with the
want of fresh water, determined them at all hazards to
seek relief at this land. The wind was northerly, and
they had soundings at the depth of thirty-seven fathoms,
with a sandy bottom. They now steered in towards the
land, west-south-west and south-west, and two hours after,
at five in the evening, they anchored in twelve fathoms, the
bottom sand, and veered out three-quarters of a cable. The
sea now began to run high, and at six the cable gave way.
Another anchor was let go, yet the ship struck twice,
though they found by the lead five fathoms depth of water.
The cable quickly parted; and it was fortunate a third
anchor was not ready, for whilst they were preparing it, a
high wave threw the ship over a bank of rocks, where all at
once she was in still water. They now dropt their anchor in
four fathoms and a half, about six hundred yards from the
land, and lay quiet during the rest of the night; but in the
morning they found themselves surrounded with rocks and
breakers.   They were certain that the coast of Kamts- 72
chatka was not far distant; but the condition of the ship
and the crew, with the advanced season of the year, rendered it apparent that they must remain upon this land all
winter. Those who were able to work went on shore to
prepare lodgings for the sick. This they accomplished by
digging pits or caverns between some sand-hills near a
brook which ran from a mountain to the sea, using their
sails as a temporary covering. There was no appearance
of inhabitants ; nor were any trees seen, although driftwood was found along the shore. No grass nor anti-scorbutic herbs were discoverable; the island, indeed, was so
deeply covered with snow, that .even if it produced any
antiseptic plants, the patients had not strength to lay them
open; and at this time the Russians were little acquainted
with the proper remedies for this dreadful disease. On the
8th of November they began to transport the sick to the
miserable habitations which had been prepared for them;
and it was remarkable that some who seemed the least reduced expired the moment they were exposed to the fresh
air, and others in making an attempt to stand upon deck."*
On the 9th of November, Behring himself was carried-
ashore by four men on a hand-barrow, carefully secured
from the air. The ship had been cast on the east side of
the island, and the coast was examined both to the north
and south; but no traces of inhabitants were found. Along
the shores were many sea-otters, and the interior swarmed
with blue and white foxes.    " We saw," says Steller in his
* " It must," says Captain Burney, " be within the memory of many,
the great care with which the apartments of the sick were guarded
against the admission of fresh air, and in few instances more than in what
was called the sick-berth on board a ship of war, where it was customary
to keep a number of diseased persons labouring under different maladies
enclosed and crowded together ; and fortunately, since the date of this
expedition, the management of the sick with respect to air has undergone
a very essential reform." 1741.]
journal, "the most dismal and terrifying objects: the
foxes mangled the dead before they could be buried, and
were even not afraid to approach the living and helpless :
who lay scattered here and there, and smell at them like
dogs. This man exclaimed that he was perishing of cold;
the other complained of hunger and thirst; and their
mouths were so much affected by scurvy, that their gums
grew over their teeth like a sponge. The stone-foxes,
which swarmed round our dwellings, became so bold and
mischievous, that they carried away and>destroyed different
articles of provision and clothing. One took a shoe, another
a boot, a third a glove, a fourth a coat; and they even stole
the iron implements; whilst all attempts to drive them
away were ineffectual."*
Lieutenant Waxel, on whom, since the illness of the
commodore, the command devolved, and Kytrow, the shipmaster, continued healthy at sea; and the necessity for exertion, in seeing everything sent on shore, had a favourable
effect in repelling the attacks of the disease. At last, however, they too were laid up, and soon became so weak, that
on the 21st of November they were carried ashore like the
rest. During this dreadful residence on the island, the
men lived chiefly on the flesh of the sea-otters, which was
so hard and tough that it could scarcely be torn to pieces
by the teeth. The intestines were mostly used for the sick ;
and Steller, in his descriptions of the marine animals of
these regions, reckons the flesh of the sea-otter as a specific
against the scurvy. When not wanted for food, they were
killed for their fine skin,s, nine hundred being collected on
the island, and equally divided among the crew. A dead
whale, which was thrown upon the coast, they called their
magazine, proved a resource when nothing better could
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, pp. 73, 74. 74
be got. The flesh was cut into small pieces, which they
boiled a long time, to separate the oil from it as much as
possible, and the remaining 'hard and sinewy parts they
swallowed without chewing.
In this miserable manner they continued to support life;
but some of the crew sunk daily under the disease, and on
the 8th of December the commodore expired. Behring
was an officer of extraordinary merit; and, until reduced
by the disease of which he became the victim, endowed with
unshaken perseverance and energy. His voyage set at rest
the disputed point regarding the separation of the two
continents of Asia and America; and he has deservedly
bequeathed his name to the strait which he was the first to
explore, and the desolate island on which he died. It is
melancholy to think, that after the exertions he had made
in the cause of naval discovery, his life terminated so miserably ; for it may almost be said that he was buried alive.
The sand rolled down continually from the side of the
cavern in which he lay, and at last covered his feet ; nor
would he suffer it to be removed, saying he felt warmth
from it, when he was cold in all other parts. It thus gradually increased upon him, till his body was more than half
concealed ; so that, when he at last expired, it was found '
necessary to unearth him previously to his being interred.
"Behring," says Steller, who was by no means disposed to
exaggerate the good qualities of his commander, " displayed
in his illness the most affecting resignation to the will of
the Supreme Being, and enjoyed his understanding and
speech to the last. He was convinced that the crew had
been driven on an unknown land ; yet he would not terrify
others by declaring his opinion, but cherished their hopes
and encouraged their exertions. He was buried according
to the Protestant ritual, and a cross was erected over his
grave to mark the spot, and to serve also as an evi-
dence that the Russians had taken possession of the
Soon after the death of the commodore, the whole crew
were sheltered from the .severity of the winter in subterranean dwellings contiguous to each other, and recovered
so much strength by the use of sweet and excellent water,
and the flesh of the sea-animals killed in hunting, that their
existence became comparatively comfortable. Of the manner
in which they passed their time during the dreary winter
months, from December to May, Steller has left us in his
journal a minute and interesting account. In March the
sea-otters disappeared, either from the instinct of changing
their abode at particular seasons of the year, or banished
by continual persecution ; but their place was supplied by
other marine animals, which, in their turn, also left them.
"To supply ourselves with fuel," says Steller, "was likewise a considerable labour : As the island produced nothing
but willow-bushes, and the driftwood was often deeply
buried in the snow till the end of March, we were compelled
to bring it from a distance of even fifteen or sixteen versts ;
and our load upon these expeditions amounted to from sixty
to eighty pounds, besides our hatchets and kettles, with the
necessary implements for mending our shoes and clothes.
In April, however, we were relieved from this labour by
the thaw and breaking up of the vessel. An anecdote of
an escape made by them in hunting, as it is given by the
same lively writer, presents us with a striking picture of
their manner of life upon the island. "On the 5th of
April," says he, " during a gleam of favourable weather,
Steneser and myself, with my Cossack and a servant of
Behring, went on a hunting expedition. Having killed as
many sea-otters as we were able to carry, we made a fire
* Coxe's Eussian Discoveries, p. 79. THEY BUILD A NEW VESSEL.
in a cliff, where we proposed to pass the night. At midnight a violent hurricane arose, and the snow fell in such
quantities that we should have been buried had we not run
continually backwards and forwards. In the morning,
after a long and fruitless search for shelter, we resigned
ourselves to our fate; but the Cossack fortunately discovered
a large cavern, which seemed to have been formed by an
earthquake, where we entered with our provision and wood.'
It afforded a secure retreat from the weather, contained a
cavity in which we could hide our provisions from the
depredations of the stone-foxes, and was provided with an
aperture which served the purpose of a chimney. The cave
and bay, which were named in compliment to me, were
inhabited by numerous foxes, which retired on our approach
through the chimney ; but the smoke from our fire caused
such a spitting and sneezing amongst them, as gave no
small diversion to the party. At night, however, they
occasionally returned into the cavern, and amused themselves with taking away our caps, and playing other similar
gambols. On the 4th we returned to our abode with a rich
booty, and were received with great delight by our companions, who thought us lost."*
On the 6th of May, such of the crew as were able to
work began to build from the relics of the wreck a vessel,
which was intended to carry the survivors to Kamtschatka.
Their number was now reduced to forty-five, thirty having
died on the island, including the three carpenters; but a
Siberian Cossack named Starodubzow, who had for some
time worked as a shipwright at Ochotzk, superintended
the building of the new ship. At first they were put to
great inconvenience from a deficiency of tar; but by an
uigenious contrivance it was extracted from the new cord-
* "We have availed ourselves of Coxe's translation of this passage, as
published in his Russian Discoveries, pp. 85, 86. 1742.]
age which they had to spare. After being cut and picked,
they put it into a large copper kettle, having a cover fitting
close, with a hole in the middle. They then took another
vessel with a similar cover, which they fixed firm in the
ground, and upon this set the copper kettle turned upside
down, the apertures in the lids being placed exactly against
each other. Part of this machinery was then buried in the
earth, and a fire kindled round what was above ground, by
which means the tar of the new cordage melted, and ran
into the inferior vessel. This contrivance having removed
their greatest difficulty, by the 10th of August the new
vessel was launched, and on the 16th Lieutenant Waxel
set sail with the melancholy remnant of his crew; but,
owing to contrary winds, they did not make the coast of
Kamtschatka till the 25th, although from Behring's Island
the distance was not more than thirty German miles. On
the 27th they anchored in Awatchka Bay; and the Cossack, Staroduhzow, to whose efforts in constructing the
vessel the preservation of the crew was mainly owing,
received the rank of sinbojarski, a degree of Siberian
nobility. Such is an account of the celebrated and unfortunate expedition of Commodore Behring, of which the
results were highly important to geographical science,
although dearly bought by the death of so many brave
Although Lord Mulgrave had failed in his attempt to
discover, by a northerly course, a communication between
the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans,* the British Government
did not abandon all hope; and in 1776, Captain James
Cook, who had already established his reputation as the
greatest of modern navigators, was selected by the Admiralty to conduct another expedition, reversing only the
* Polar Seas and Regions, 3d edit. p. 327-335. 78
plan, and endeavouring to sail from the Pacific into the
Atlantic, instead of from the Atlantic into the Pacific.
In prosecution of this plan, on the 12th of July 1776,
Cook sailed from Plymouth Sound in the Resolution,
leaving instructions for the Discovery, the command of
which was intrusted to Captain Charles Clerke, to join him
at the Cape. From that place the two ships proceeded, in
a course marked by important discoveries, through the
Southern Hemisphere, by Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, Otaheite, and the Sandwich Islands. They then
steered north-eastward, and on the 7th of March, in latitude 44J° north, came in sight of the American continent
at the coast of New Albion. Owing to unfavourable winds,
which forced the ships to the south, it was the 29th before
Cook anchored in Nootka Sound, where he was soon visited
by thirty boats of the natives, carrying each from three to
seven or eight persons, both men and women. At first
none of the Americans would venture within either ship;
and from the circumstance of their boats remaining at a
short distance all night, as if on watch, it was evident they
regarded the arrival of the strangers with much suspicion.
A friendly intercourse, however, was soon established; and
although theft, particularly of any iron utensil, was unscrupulously committed, they were pretty fair and honest
in their mode of barter. " They were," says Cook, " docile,
courteous, and good-natured; but quick in resenting what
they looked upon as an injury, and, like most other passionate people, as soon forgetting it. Their stature was
rather below the common size of Europeans; and although
at first, owing to the paint and grease which covered their
skins, it was believed that they were of a copper complexion, it was afterwards discovered that they were in
reality a white people. They were well armed with pikes,
some headed with bone, and many with iron; besides
m mej
which they carried bows, slings, knives, and a short club,
like the patow of the New Zealanders ; their arrows were
barbed at the point, and the inner end feathered." A dispute occurred after the arrival of the English, between the
inhabitants of the northern and southern coasts of the
sound; but a pacific treaty was concluded, and the event
celebrated by a species of music, in which they bore alternate parts. "Their songs," says Captain Burney, who
was himself present, " were given in turn, the party singing having their pikes erected. When the first finished,
they laid down their pikes, and the other party reared
theirs. What they sung was composed of few notes, and
as wild as could have been expected; yet it was solemn
and in unison, and what I thought most extraordinary,
they were all well in tune with each other. The words
were at times given out by one man, as a parish-clerk gives
out the first line of a psalm."*
It appeared evident to Captain Cook, that previous to
this the inhabitants had never entertained any direct communication with Europeans. "They were not startled,"
says he, " by the report of a musket, till one day, upon
endeavouring to prove to us that arrows and spears would
not penetrate their war-dresses, a gentleman of our company shot a musket-ball through one of them folded six
times. At this they were so much staggered, that their
ignorance of fire-arms was plainly seen. This was afterwards confirmed when we used them to shoot birds, the
manner of which confounded them." On the ships leaving
Nootka Sound, the natives accompanied their farewell with
a singular exhibition:—" When the anchor was heaving
up," says Burney, " they assembled in their boats, which
covered the cove, and began a song, in which they flour-
* Bumey's North-Eastern Voyages of Discovery, p. 213. COOK AT NOOTKA SOUND.
ished the swords, saws, hatchets, and other things, which
they had obtained from us. In the midst of thi3 valedictory chorus, one man, mounted on a stage of loose boards,
which was supported by the people in the nearest canoes
or boats, danced with a wooden mask on, which he occasionally changed, making himself resemble sometimes a
man, sometimes a bird, and sometimes an animal. Of
these masks they have great variety, and they parted with
them willingly, except those of the human face ; if they
sold any of these, it seemed to be with some repugnance,
as if they were parting with the image of a friend or a
relation, and were ashamed to be seen so doing."*
From Nootka Sound Captain Cook made a survey of the
coast by Mount Saint Elias, till he arrived at a cape which
turned short to the north, to which he gave the name of
Cape Hinchinbroke. Thence he proceeded to Prince William's Sound ; after which he pursued the coast to the
west, which was found to take a southerly direction, as
described by Behring and Tchirikow. These navigators,
however, as we have seen, had not made a very particular
examination; and although the tenor of Cook's instructions
did not permit him to devote much time to the exploring
rivers or inlets, till he reached the latitude of 65°, still that
eminent officer deemed himself at liberty to complete an
accurate survey of this hitherto undiscovered coast, from
the arm of the sea afterwards denominated Cook's Inlet,
round the great Peninsula of Alaska, terminating in Cape
Oonamak. He thence proceeded along the shores of
Bristol Bay, till he doubled Cape Newenham, from which
he steered in a north-easterly direction, and anchored in
Norton Sound. Leaving this, the ships entered Behring's
Strait, and followed the coast to the north-west, till they
* Burney's North-Eastern Voyages of Discovery, pp. 217, 218. 1776.]
doubled a promontory situated in 65° 45 north latitude,
which they named Prince of Wales' Cape, regarding it
as the western extremity of all America hitherto known.
Soon after, in the evening, they discerned the coast of Asia,
and standing across the strait came to anchor in a bay of
the Tschuktschi country, near a village, from which the
• natives crowded to the shore. Observing this, Cook landed
with three boats well armed, and was received by the
Tschuktschi with cautious courtesy. About forty men,
armed each with a spontoon, besides bow and arrows, stood
drawn up on a rising ground close by the village; and as
the English drew near, three of them came down towards
the shore, politely taking off their caps and making low
bows. On seeing some of the English leap from their
boats, they retired, and expressed by signs their desire that
no more should land; but when Cook advanced alone, with
some small presents in his hand, their confidence was restored, and they exchanged for them two fox-skins and two
seahorse-teeth. All this time they never laid down their
weapons, but held them in constant readiness, except for a
short time, when four or five persons disarmed themselves
to give the English a song and a dance; even then, however, they placed them in such a manner that they could
reach them in an instant, and evidently for greater security
they desired their audience to sit down during the dance.
This Asiatic people, although dwelling within fifty miles
of the American coast, were evidently a different race from
the inhabitants of the shores of Behring's Strait. All the
Americans whom the English had seen since their arrival
on the coast were low of stature, with round chubby faces
and high cheek-bones. The Tschuktschi, on the contrary,
had long visages, and were stout and well made. Several
things which they had with them, and more particularly
their clothing, showed a degree of ingenuity surpassing RETURNS TO AMERICA.
what one could expect among so northern a people. Their
dress consisted of a cap, frock, breeches, boots, and gloves,
all made of leather or skins extremely well dressed, some
with the fur on, some without it, and the quivers which
contained their arrows were made of red leather neatly
embroidered, and extremely beautiful.*
From this bay the ships again stood over to the northeast, and continuing their examination of the American
coast, Cook soon found himself surrounded by the dreary
features which mark the scenery of the Polar latitudes; a-
dark and gloomy sky, thick showers of snow and hail, and
immense fields and mountains of ice, covered in some places
by the huge forms of the walrus or seahorse, which lay in
herds of many hundreds, huddling like swine one over the
other. The flesh of these animals, when new killed, was
preferred by the crew to their common fare of salt meat,
but within four-and-twenty hours it became rancid and
fishy. From a point of land, which was denominated
Cape Mulgrave, they now explored the coast to the latitude
of 70° 29 , where their progress was arrested by an unbroken wall of ice apparently stretching from continent to
continent.-j- At this time the nearest land was about a
league distant, and the farthest eastern point seen a low
headland much encumbered with ice, to which Cook gave
the name of Icy Cape, and which, till the recent discoveries of Captain Beechy, constituted the extreme limit of
European discovery in that quarter of the globe. It was
now the end of August; and as nothing farther could be
attempted at that season on the American coast, the ships
returned to the Sandwich Islands, with the intention of
resuming in the succeeding summer the attempt for the
discovery of a communication between the Pacific and the
* Cook's Voyages, vol. vi. pp. 409, 410, 411.       f Ibid. pp. 415, 417. 1779.]
Atlantic—an object which their great commander did not
live to execute, having been killed in an unfortunate scuffle
with the natives of Owhyhee, on the 11th of February 1779.
The farther conduct of the expedition now fell to Clerke
and King, and an attempt wa3 made to penetrate beyond
Icy Cape; but the continued fields of ice rendered it utterly
abortive. The ships therefore, having repassed Behring's
Strait, came to anchor in the Bay of St. Peter and St.
Paul, in Kamtschatka. Here Captain Clerke, who had
long been in a declining state, died; upon which, to the
great satisfaction of the crews and officers of both ships,
who were sick of the dreary navigation in these inhospitable
latitudes, they returned home.
Subsequent to the voyages of Cook and Clerke, the
north-west coast of America was visited at different periods
by Meares, Vancouver, and Kotzebue; and though the
limit of discovery was not extended beyond Icy Cape, the
shores were more minutely examined, and a beneficial
commercial intercourse established with the natives. Of
Captain Meares' voyages, the great object was to establish
a trade between China and the north-west coast of America.
For this purpose an association of the leading mercantile
men in Bengal fitted out two vessels—the Nootka, commanded by Meares himself, and the Sea-otter, by Lieutenant Walter Tipping. The Sea-otter in the first instance
took a cargo of opium to Malacca, thence she proceeded to
America, and is known to have made Prince William's
Sound; but after leaving that harbour, no accounts of her
were ever received, and it appears certain that she and her
crew perished at sea. The fate of Meares in the Nootka
was scarcely more tolerable : After a tedious and perilous
navigation in the China seas, they made their way through
the straits between Oonamak and Oonalaska against a current running seven knots an hour, from which tbey sailed 84
across to America by the Schumagin Islands, and anchored
under Cape Douglas.* Thence they proceeded to Prince
William's Sound to winter ; and their residence here during
October, November, and December, though dreary and
tedious, was not without its comforts. The natives were
friendly, and brought them provisions ; they caught plenty
of excellent salmon, and the large flocks of ducks and geese
afforded constant sport to the officers, and a seasonable
supply for the table. But the horrors of an Arctic winter
began soon to gather round them. The ice closed in upon
the ship ; the snow fell so thick that all exercise became
impossible ; the ducks and geese collected into flocks, and
passed away to the southward ; the fish totally deserted the
creeks ; and the natives, a migratory race, imitating the
instinct of these lower species, travelled off in a body with
their temporary wigwams to a more genial district. To
add to these distresses, the scurvy made its appearance ;
whilst the sun described weekly a smaller circle, and shed
a sickly and melancholy light. Even at noon, through
an atmosphere obscured by perpetual snows, " tremendous
mountains forbade almost a sight of the sky, and cast their
nocturnal shadows over the ship in the midst of day."
The decks were incapable of resisting the intense freezing
of the night, and the lower part of them was covered an
inch thick with a hoar frost that had all the appearance of
snow, notwithstanding fires were kept constantly burning
twenty hours out of the twenty-four. Between the months
of January and May, twenty-three men died of the scurvy,
and the rest of the crew were so disabled as to be incapable
of any labour ; but the sun's return and the commencement
of more genial weather produced an instantaneous effect on
the health and spirits of the crew.    The natives returned,
* Meares' Voyages, vol. i. p. 19.    Introductory Voyage. 1788.]
and assured the poor sufferers that the cold must soon be
gone, making them understand by signs that the summer
would commence about the middle of May ; and the sun,
which now began to make a larger circle over the hills,
not only chased away the huge and gloomy shadows that
like a funeral pall had covered the ship, but brought back
the fish to the rivers, and the migratory birds to the shore ;
so that they soon enjoyed an ample supply of fresh food.
On the 17th of May, a general breaking up of the ice took
place throughout the cove, and the feeling that they were
once more in clear water, with the prospect of soon leaving
a scene of so much distress and horror, cheered the minds
of the crew with inexpressible comfort.* These happy
anticipations were soon realized by their sailing from
Prince of Wales' Sound on the 21st June, and reaching
the hospitable cluster of the Sandwich Isles, where such
was the effect of the genial climate, that in ten days' residence every complaint had disappeared. On the 2d of
September they left the Sandwich Islands, and arrived on
the 20th October at Macao in China.
It may easily be imagined, that during so disastrous a
sojourn on the American shore, little or no progress could
be made in the survey of the coast, which was rugged ; and
at no great distance were mountains, covered with thick
woods for about two-thirds of their ascent, beyond which
they terminated in immense' masses of naked rock. The
black pine grew in great plenty, and a few black currant
bushes were noticed, but no other kind of fruit or vegetable.
The number of savages seen by Meares did not exceed
five or six hundred, and these had no fixed place of
abode, but wandered up and down as fancy or necessity
impelled them.     They were strong and athletic, rather
* Meares' Voyages, vol. i.   Introductory Voyage, p. 47»
■M 86
exceeding the common stature of Europeans, with prominent cheek bones, round flat feces, eyes small and blacky
and hair, which they cut short round the head, of the same
jetty colour. A slit in the under lip, parallel to the mouthy
and a perforation in the septum of the nose, in which was
inserted a large quill or a piece of bark, gave them a
hideous look; whilst a singular practice of powdering their
hair with the down of birds, allowing the frostwork and
icicles to hang from the beard, and painting the neck and
face with red ochre, increased the savage singularity of
their appearance. Their clothing consisted of a single frock
of the sea-otter skin reaching to their knees. When employed in their canoes, they used a dress, made of the entrails I
of the whale, which covered the head, and was so disposed
that it could be tied round the hole in which they sat, so as
to prevent the water from getting into the canoe, whilst it
kept the lower part of the body Warm and dry. Their
hardihood and capacity of enduring pain astonished the
English, and was remarkably evinced upon an occasion
mentioned by Meares :—" In the course of the winter," says
he, I among other rubbish, several broken glass bottles had
been thrown out of the ship, and one of the natives, who
was searching among them, cut his foot in a very severe
manner. On seeing it bleed, we pointed out what had
caused the wound, and applied a dressing to it, which he
was made to understand was the remedy we ourselves
applied on similar occasions; but he and his companions
instantly turned the whole into ridicule, and at the same
time taking some of the glass, they scarified their legs
vnd arms in a most cruel and extraordinary manner,
informing us that nothing of that kind could ever hurt
* Meares' Voyages, vol. i.   Introductory Voyage, p. 66. 1789.]
The disastrous result of this first expedition did not deter
either Meares or his liberal employers from hazarding a
second voyage to the same coast, which was attended with
more important results. The Felice, of 230 tons burden,
and the Iphigenia, of 200, were fitted out on this adventure ;
the command being given to Captains Meares and Douglas.
Both vessels were copper-bottomed and strongly built, and
their crews consisted of Europeans and Chinese, among
whom were some excellent smiths, shipwrights, and other
artisans. The taking the Chinamen aboard was an experiment. Before this time they had never formed part of the
crew of an English merchant-ship ; and it is but justice to
say that they proved hardy, good-humoured, and industrious.
Two other very interesting passengers were, on board of
Captain Meares' ship—Teanna, a prince of Atooi, one of
the Sandwich Isles, who had volunteered to leave his native
country when Meares visited it during his former expedition,
and Comekala, a native of King George's Sound, who had
at the same time entreated to be carried to China. Of these
two specimens of savage life, Teanna was by far the finest,
both in moral and in physical qualities. He was about
thirty-two years old, near six feet five inches in stature,
and in strength almost Herculean. His carriage was dignified, and, in consequence of the respect paid to his superior
rank in his own country, possessed an air of distinction,
to which his familiarity with European manners had not
communicated any stiffness or embarrassment. Comekala,
on the other hand, though cunning and sagacious, was a
stranger to the generous qualities which distinguished thé
prince of the Sandwich Isles. He was kind and honest
when it suited his own interest ; but stole without scruple
whatever he wished to have, and could not procure by
fairer means. Brass and copper were metals which he
might almost be said to worship.    Copper halfpence, but-
WÊmWm 88
tons, saucepans—all possessed in his eyes the highest
charms. It was evident that he coveted the brass buttons
of the captain's uniform-; and his mode of fixing his eyes
on the object of his desire, and the pangs of ungratified
avarice, as exhibited in the contortions of hi3 countenance,
proved matter of much amusement to the crew. The cause
of his insatiable thirst for copper became afterwards apparent.
In the meantime, Captain Meares found it necessary to
separate from his consort, whose slow sailing threatened to
impede his progress ; and, after a long and hazardous passage, the ship anchored in Friendly Cove, in King George's
Sound, abreast of the village of Nootka, on the morning
of the 13th of May. Comekala, who for several days had
been in a state of high excitation, now enjoyed the genuine
delight of once more beholding his native shore ; and when
his intention of landing was made known, the whole inhabitants poured forth to give him welcome. The dress in
which he chose to appear for the first time after so long an
absence was very extraordinary. On a former occasion,
when visited by Hannapa, a brother chief, he contented
himself with an ordinary European suit ; but he now, says
Meares, arrayed himself- in all his glory. His scarlet coat
was decorated with such quantities of brass buttons and
copper appendages of one kind or other, that they could
not fail to procure him profound respect from his countrymen, and render him an object of unbounded admiration to
the Nootka damsels. At least half a sheet of copper formed
his breastplate ; from bis ears copper ornaments Were suspended ; and he contrived to hang from his hair, which was
dressed with a long pig-tail, so many handles of copper
saucepans, that their weight kept his head in a stiff upright
position, which very much heightened the oddity of his
appearance.    For several of the ornaments with which be
&ga 1789.]
was now so proudly decorated, Comekala had lived in a
3tate of continual hostility with the cook, from whom he
purloined them ; but their last and principal struggle was
for an enormous spit, which the American prince had seized
as a spear to swell the circumstances of that splendour
with which he was preparing to dazzle the eyes of his
countrymen. In such a state of accoutrement, and feeling
greater delight than ever was experienced on the proudest-
European throne, the long boat rowed Comekala ashore,
when a general and deafening shout from the crowd assured
him of the universal joy felt on his return. The whole
inhabitants moved to the beach, welcomed the traveller on
shore, and afterwards conducted him to the king's house,
which none but persons of rank were permitted to enter,
and where a magnificent feast of whale blubber and oil was
prepared. On the whole, Comekala's reception, and the
impression made by his extraordinary costume, evinced his
intimate knowledge of the character of his countrymen ; for
though to the English the effect was irresistibly comic, the
natives regarded him with a mixture of silent awe and
wonder, which after a while broke forth into expressions
of universal astonishment and delight.
Not long after this exhibition, two Nootka princes,—
Maquilla and Callicum, paid a visit to the English. Their
little squadron, consisting of twelve canoes with eighteen
men each, moved with stately parade round the. ship. The
men wore dresses of beautiful sea-otter skins, covering them
from head to heel ; their hair was powdered with the white
down of birds, and their faces bedaubed with red and black
ochre, in the form of a shark's jaw and a kind of spiral
line, which rendered their appearance extremely savage.
Eight rowers sat on each side, and a single man at the
bow; whilst the chiefs, distinguished by a high cap, pointed
at the crown, and ornamented with a small tuft of feathers,
occupied a place in the middle. All this was very striking ;
but the most remarkable accompaniment was the air which
they chanted, the effect of which is described by Meares as
uncommonly pleasing. " We listened," says he, "to their
song with an equal degree of surprise and pleasure. It
was indeed impossible for any ear susceptible of delight
from musical sounds, or any mind not insensible to the
power of melody, to remain unmoved by this solemn unexpected concert. The chorus was in unison, and strictly
correct as to time and tune ; nor did a dissonant note escape
them. Sometimes they would make a sudden transition,
from the high to the low tones, with such melancholy turns
in their variations, that we could not reconcile to ourselves
the manner in which they acquired or contrived this more
than untaught melody of nature. There was also something
for the eye as well as the ear, and the action that accompanied their voices added very much to the impression
which the chanting made upon us all. Every one beat
time with undeviating regularity against the gunwale of
the boat with their paddles ; and at the end of every verse
they pointed with extended arms to the north and south,
gradually sinking their voices in such a solemn manner as
to produce an effect not often attained by the orchestras of
European nations." This account of the impressive music
of the people of Nootka Sound is, the reader may remember,
corroborated by Captain Burney* The ceremony, however,
did not end with the song ; but after rowing twice round
the ship, rising up each time as they passed the stern, and
vociferating " Wacush ! Wacush 1" (friends), they brought
their canoes alongside, and the two chiefs came on board.
Both were handsome men of the middle size, possessing a
mild but manly expression of countenance.    They accepted
* Supra, p. 79. 1789.] HUNTING THE SEA-OTTER. 91
a present of copper, iron, and other articles, with signs of
great delight; and throwing off their sea-otter garments,
laid them gracefully at the feet of the English, and stood
on the deck quite naked. Each of them was presented
with a blanket, which they threw over their shoulders with
marks of high satisfaction, and descending into their canoes,
were paddled to the shore.
A brisk trade in furs now commenced, which, though
interrupted occasionally by the petty thefts of the savages,
was highly favourable to the commercial interests of the
expedition. Skins of the sea-otter, beaver, martin, sable, and
river-otter, of the ermine, black-fox, gray, white, and red
wolf, wolverine, marmot, racoon, bear, and mountain-sheep,
and in addition to all these, of the furred,- speckled, and
common seal, sea-cow, and sea-lion, were all procured,
though some in greater abundance than others. Of these,
by far the most beautiful and valuable was the skin of the
sea-otter. The taking of this animal is attended with
considerable hazard; but constant practice has taught the
natives both skill and courage. " When it is determined
to hunt the sea-otter," says Meares, "two very small canoes
are prepared, in each of which are seated two expert hunters. The instruments they employ are bows and arrows,
with a small harpoon, which differs somewhat from the instrument of the same kind used in hunting the whale, the
shaft being much the same, but the harpoon itself of greater
length, and so notched and barbed that when it has once
entered the flesh it is almost impossible to extricate it. It
is attached to the shaft by several fathoms of sufficient
strength to drag the otter to the boat. The arrows employed are small, and pointed with bone formed into a
single barb. Thus equipped, the hunters proceed among
the rocks in search of their prey. Sometimes they surprise the animal when sleeping on his back on the surface 92
of the water ; and if they can approach without awakening
him, which requires infinite caution and skill, he is easily
harpooned and dragged to the boat, when a fierce battle
often ensues between the otter and the hunters, who are
frequently severely wounded by his teeth and claws. The
more usual manner of taking him, however, is by pursuit,
and the chase is sometimes continued for hours. As the
animal cannot rémain long under water, the skill is here
chiefly exerted to direct the canoes in the same Une which
the otter takes when under water, at which time he swims
with a celerity that greatly exceeds that of his pursuers.
The moment he dives, therefore, the canoes separate, in
order to have the better chance of wounding him with their
arrows at the moment he rises, although it often happens
that this wary and cunning animal escapes, and baffles the
utmost skill of his persecutors. Should it happen that the
otters are overtaken with their young ones, the instinct of
parental affection comes out*«in its most deep and interesting shape; all sense of danger and of self-preservation is
instantly lost, and both male and female defend their cubs
with the most furious courage, tearing out with their teeth
the arrows and harpoons fixed in them, and often attacking
the canoes themselves. On such occasions, however, their
utmost efforts are unavailing, and they and their offspring
never fail of yielding to the power of the hunters."*
The hunting the whale, however, is a still nobler sport;
and nothing can exceed the skill and intrepidity with which
the Americans of Nootka engage in it. When it is determined to proceed against this mighty creature, the chief
prepares himself with great ceremony. He is clothed i