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Historical view of the progress of discovery on the more northern coasts of America : from the earliest… Tytler, Patrick Fraser, 1791-1849 1832

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Beautifully printed in small 8vo, with appropriate Engravings by the most
Eminent Artists.—Price of each Volume in Cloth Boards Five Shillings.
The Publishers have felt regret at receiving from all quarters complaints,
that, in consequence of several of the Numbers having been out of print,
it was impossible to meet tbe constant call for complete Sets. This, they
beg leave to state, arose inevitably from tbe rapid and increasing demand,
which has been so much beyond expectation, that for some time they
could not provide effectually against the inconvenience. But arrangements have now been made on a scale commensurate with the ample and
flattering encouragement afforded by the Public : the Volumes are all reprinted, and the Publishers trust that they will henceforth be able toensure
a regular supply of the Edinburgh Cabinet Library from its commencement.
With Illustrations of their Climate, Geology, and Natural History; and
an Account of the Whale-Fishery.
By Sir John Leslie, K. R. G., Professor of Natural Philosophy in the
University of Edinburgh, and Corresponding Member of the Royal Institute of France j Robert Jameson, Esq., F.R.S.E. & L., F.L.S., M. W.S.,
Regius Professor of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh;
* and Hugh Murray, Esq., F.R.S.E.   3d Edit.   In one volume.
Embellished with Charts of the Routes of Discovery, and Fifteen Engravings
exhibiting Picturesque Views of the Arctic Regions, Groups of the Natives
with their Occupations and Pursuits, Natural History, Whale-Fishery, &c.
With Illustrations of the Geology, Mineralogy, and Zoology.
By Hugh Murray, Esq., F.R.S.E; Professor Jameson; and James
Wilson, Esq., F. R. S. E., and M. W« S.   2d Edit.   In one volume.
| With a Map, and Plans of the Routes of Park, and of Denham and Clap-
perton, and Thirteen Engravings illustrative of the Scenery, Natural History,
Costume of the Inhabitants, &'c.
With an Outline of its Natural History.
, By the Rev. Michael Russell, LL.D.   2d Edit.   In one volume.
Illustrated by a Map, a Portrait of Mohammed Ali, and Ten other Engravings
iresenting the most Remarkable Temples, Pyramids, and other Monuments of
By the Rev. Michael Russell, LL.D., Author of " View of Ancient
and Modern Egypt," &c.    3d Edit.   In one volume.
• With a Map, and Nine Engravings representing its most striking Scenery,
Temples, Remains of Antiquity, &c.
Including an Introductory View of the Earlier Discoveries in the South
Sea; and the History of the Buccaneers. ' In one volume.
With Portraits engraved in Horsburgh's best line manner.
Including a Narrative of the Early Portuguese and English Voyages, the
Revolutions in the Mogul Empire, and the Origin, Progress, and Establishment of the British Power : with Illustrations of the Zoology—Botany—Climate, Geology, and Mineralogy:—also Medical Observations,—
an Account of the Hindoo Astronomy—the Trigonometrical Surveys—
and the Navigation of the Indian Seas. By Hugh Murray, Esq.,
F.R.S.E.; James Wilson, Esq., F.R.S.E. & M.W.S.; R. K. Greville,
LL.D.; Professor Jameson; Whitelaw Ainslie, M.D., M.R.A.S.,
late of the Medical Staff of Southern India; William Rhind, Esq.,
M.R.C.S.; Professor Wallace ; and Captain Clarence Dalrymple,
Hon. East India Company's Service. , In 3 volumes.
With a Map constructed for the Work, and Twenty-six Engravings by Branston.
F.R.S. & F.S.A.
 •I tt% k
Oliver & Boyd, Printers.
Among the various Expeditions of Discovery by
land and sea, none have been considered of greater
importance, or regarded with a deeper interest, than
those into the Arctic Regions. The navigator has nowhere to contend with such formidable obstacles, nor
does he elsewhere behold an aspect of nature so peculiar Jj The Edinburgh Cabinet Library commenced with a volume descriptive of the Polar Seas
and Countries; and the popularity of that work has
afforded a gratifying proof, both of the interest felt
by the public in the subject, and of its having been
treated in a satisfactory manner.
But there remained another branch of adventure
equally arduous, which required to be completed before we could be said to have obtained a full and
connected view of the various efforts made to explore the extreme north by the nations of Europe,
and particularly by Britain. We allude to the expeditions undertaken, partly by land and partly by
coast and river navigation, to trace the limits of
America, where that continent borders on the'Arctic
Circle. The scenery, it is well known, is. of the
same grand and impressive character; and the successive adventurers were exposed to vicissitudes if
possible still more striking than those experienced
in the Polar Regions. The tracts, also, over which
they passed,—being tenanted by animals of remarkable and varied form, adorned by nature with the
richest and most beautiful furs,—yielded numerous
objects not only of the highest interest to the zoological observer, but of great value as the materials
of an extensive commerce. The present volume,
therefore, which exhibits "a view of all that is important in our knowledge of the most remote territories of America, when studied in combination
with the "" Polar Seas and Regions," of which it
may be regarded as the sequel, will be found to supply a complete account of the whole series of Northern Discoveries by land and water.
Of this work the Historical and Critical departments have been contributed by Patrick Fraser
Tytler, Esq., the distinguished Author of the
History of Scotland, and the Natural History by
James Wilson, Esq.,~two gentlemen whose names,
the publishers are confident, will furnish a sufficient
security that the task committed to them has been
executed with care. In the Appendix it has been
the object of Mr Tytler, not only to vindicate from a
late attack the reputation of an excellent writer, but
if possible to set at rest the disputed point regarding
the discovery of North America. In this investigation he has endeavoured to unite the patient research, which is absolutely requisite for the discovery
of truth on such a subject, with a popular mode of
communicating it. The high qualifications of Mr
Wilson our readers have already had ample opportunities to appreciate; and we may add that, from
his intimate acquaintance and correspondence with
Dr Richardson, whose name stands so high among
the explorers of the Northern Regions, he has enjoyed peculiar advantages in preparing the interesting
Sketches now submitted to the public. The student of natural history who has perused the summaries of African and Indian Zoology which have
appeared in the former volumes of the Edinburgh
Cabinet Library, will not fail to perceive then-
increased value when examined in connexion with
that now given, inasmuch as they afford the materials of a comparative view of the animal kingdom
in three principal divisions of our globe, and thereby
throw ,a valuable light on the subject of zoological
geography, which has recently excited the attention
of the scientific world.
The Map has been constructed with the greatest
care: it comprehends all the recent Discoveries on
the northern boundary of America, and fully exhibits the routes of the different travellers and
navigators whose adventures are recorded in the
text. The Engravings by Jackson illustrate several
striking specimens of natural history, drawn chiefly
from nature, and other objects characteristic of that
quarter of the globe. There is also a portrait of
Cortes after Titian,—executed in the first style of
the art.
Edinrurgh, August 1832.
Company—First Journey of Sir Alexander Mackenzie in 1789—
His Second Expedition in 1792, Page 135
First and Second Expeditions of Franklin—Voyage of Captain
Beechey,. 208
Amelioration in the Character of European Intercourse 'with uncivilized Nations—The Absence of Sandy Deserts, a grand Feature
in the Physical Attributes of America—General Boundaries of
the Districts afterwards treated of' in Detail—Early Sources of
Information regarding the Natural History of North America—
General View of the Fur Countries—Passages across the Rocky
Mountains—Plains and Valleys along the Pacific Shore, 293
Inaccuracies of some Historical Writers—No Monkeys in North
America—Bats—Shrew-mice—Genus Scalops, or Shrew-mole
—Other Moles of America,—The Star-nose—Various Bears—
Different Digitated Quadrupeds—The Canada Otter—The Sea-
otter—The Dogs and Wolves of America—The Foxes—The
Beaver—The Musk-rat—Meadow Mice and Lemmings-JThe
Rocky Mountain Neotoma—The American Field-mouse—The
Marmots—The Squirrel Tribe—The Canada Porcupine—The
American Hare—The Polar Hare—The Prairie Hare The
Little Chief Hare—Genus Cervus—The Elk, or Moose-deer	
The Rein-deer—The Woodland Caribou—The Rocky Mountain Sheep—The Rocky Mountain Goat—The Bison, or American Buffalo—The Musk-ox, Page 313
Turkey Buzzard—Golden-eagle_Bald-eagle—Hawks—.Owls-
Butcher-birds— King-bird—Northern Tyrant—American Water-
ouzel—Red-breasted Thrush—Blue-bird—Arctic Blue-bird—
Cedar-bird, or American Chatterer—Snow-buntmg— Painted
Bunting—Pine-grosbeak—Evening-grosbeak—Scarlet Tannger
—Cuckoo-bunting—Crows—Woodpeckers —Humming-birds—
Swallows—Belted Kingfisher — Grouse —Passenger-pigeon	
Grallatores—Natatores—Gulls—Rocky Mountain Golden-eye
—Bewick's Swan—Trumpeter-swan—White Pelican—Great
Northern Diver—Black-throated Diver—Guillemots,. 357
Sturgeon—Salmon—Trout— Char—Capelan—White Fish—Blue
Insects—Their Natural Preservation from Cold—More Northern
Extension of Tropical Forms in America than in Europe—Bees
—Extension Westwards of the Honey-bee—Diptera—Melville
Island Spider—Butterflies, 383
Mr Brown's Observations on the relative Proportions of the Two
great Divisions of Phaenogamous Plants—Beautiful small Willow
from East Greenland—Notices of the more remarkable Species
collected by Dr Richardson—Galium Tinctorium—Cornus Alba
 Phlox Hoodii—Viburnum Edule—Azalea Nudicaulis-—Lilium
Philadelphicum—Epilobium Angustifolium—Ledum Latifolium—
L. Palustre—Prunus Virginiana—Pyrus Ovalis—Crepis Nana—
Cineraria Congesta—Pinus Nigra—P. Alba—P. Banksiana—P.
Microcarpa—P. Lambertiana—Empetrum Nigrum—MyricaGale
• —Populus Trepida—Populus Balsamifera—Juniperus Prostrata
—Splachnum Mnioides—Dicranum Elongatum—Gyrophora pro-
boscidea—Hyperborea Pennsylvanica, Mecklenbergii, vellea—
Cetraria Richardsonii—Fucus Ceranoides—Difficulties in the Determination of Arctic Species—Plants recently introduced to the
British Gardens—Lathyrus Decaphyllus—Eutoca Franklinii—
Lupinus Littoralis—Clarkia Pulchella—Gerardia Capitata—New
Dodecatheon—Andromeda Tetragona—Menziesia Empetrifolia
—Azalea Lapponica—Dryas Drummondia, Page 390
Frozen Subsoil of Hudson's Bay—Primitive Rocks of Hayes River—Hill River—Borders of Knee Lake—Remarkable Rock-
island of Magnetic Iron Ore—Lake Winipeg—Limestone Dis-
' trict—Fort Chipewyan—Carp Lake—Gneiss Formation of the
Barren Grounds—Transparent Waters of Great Bear Lake—
Fort Franklin—Bear Lake River—-Lignite Formation of Mackenzie River—Spontaneous Fire—Pipe-clay—Alluvial Islands
at the Mouth of the Mackenzie—Copper Mountains—Coppermine River—Islands of the Arctic Sea,—Arctic Shore—Cape
Barrow—Galena Point—Moore's Bay—Bankes' Peninsula—Barry's Island—Cape Croker—Point Turnagain—General Occurrence of the New Red Sandstone—Hood's River—Wilberforce
Falls—Gneiss Formation—General Summary, Page 404
Remarks on  a  Late   Memoir of Sebastian Cabot,
with a Vindication of Richard Hakluyt, 417
Map of the Northern Coasts of America,... To face the Vignette.
Vignette—Scene near Mount Coplestone, or Western Termination of the Rocky Mountains.
Portrait of Hernan Cortes, Page  68
Group of Esquimaux West of the Mackenzie River, 269
Grizzly Bear, 321
American Gray WolfJ. 328
Hare Indian or Mackenzie River Dog, 331
Head of the American Black Elk^ 345
Rocky Mountain Goat, and Rocky Mountain Sheep, 349
Sabine's Gull, 380
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
Cartier—Discovery of Canada—Spanish Voyages of Discovery
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 con-
founds 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 out 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.
* The author of the Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 50, 51, an
anonymous work (London, 1831), which contains much ingenious
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 pro-
criticism and valuable research. It is, however, unhappily confused
in its arrangement, 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 Hakluyt, of whom a brief Vindication will be found at the end of this volume.
bability attained by this course to India * Animated
by such a project, Cabot addressed himself to Henry
VII., 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 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 BristoLt
* Tiraboschi, Storia della Letter. Ital., vol. vi. b. i. cap. 6. § 24.
•J- I have nearly followed the words of this important document,
which is still preserved.   Rymer, Foedera Angliae, vol. xii. p. 595.
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 to 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 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 steril 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 Chancelor;
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 ;t at which time Sebastian
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 6.      -f- Purchas' Pilgrims, vol. iii. p. 807.
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 tjb.e 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 conjectural, the fact that Se.
bastian 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
the 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.t
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 VII., 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 attempt
upon the crown by Perkin Warbeck, the king determined to pursue the enterprise, and to encourage a
scheme for colonization under the eonduct 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. He empowered John Kabotto,
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 76.
X Old style,—1498, new style.
+ Ibid. p. 50.
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 Thirkill 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 ;t 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 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
* See Mr Nicholas' excellent collection entitled Excerpta His-
torica, pp. 116,117.
•j* The cause might be his death; but this is conjecture,—of the
fact there is no direct proof: of the knighthood it is not possible to
doubt. See, in the Vmdication of Hakluyt, the remarks on the errors of the biographer of Cabot in his chapter on this subject.
1 m
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.
c< These northern seas," says this writer, f 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, t He fitted out two ships in England at
his own charges, and first 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,
* Ramusio, Viaggi, vol. i. p. 414.
•f Cabot was born in England, and carried by his father into Italy
when four years old. He was afterwards brought back to England
when a youth, (i assai giovaae."—Ramusio, vol. i. p. 414.   Memoir
of Cabot, p. 69. m&
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 Her-
culeum. 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 Baccalaos, 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 Baccalaos,
because in the seas thereabout he found such an
immense multitude of large fish like tunnies, called
baccalaos 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 my
intimate 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 VII., 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 voyaget 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
* Peter Martyr, De Orbe Novo, 3d decad. cap. 6. Edition by
Hakluyt, 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?"
"f Although the son accompanied the father, I consider the voyage of 1497 as solely conducted by John Cabot.
J Memoir of Cabot, p. 41.
routes by which the spices of the East were conveyed in ancient times to Europe; and towards the
conclusion of the essay he brings 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 Fracastoro, between Ramusio himself,
Fracostoro, 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. u 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
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. j 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,—c 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 every thing 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. c Upon this
report of him,' continued he, {I 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 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 VII., 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:—" c Being aware,' said Cabot to
me, c 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.
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
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
Viaggi del Ramusio, torn. i. pp. 413, 414.
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 ;* 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 rewarded; 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, Gas-
par de Cortereal, of whose expedition notice has
already been taken in this Library,t determined
* Memoir of Cabot, p. 87.
+ Discovery and Adventure in the Polar Seas, 3d edition, p. 184,
and Lives and Voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, p. 24.
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 Ihe 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 600 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. t The
most curious and authentic account of this remarks
able expedition of the Portuguese navigator is to
be found in a letter, written by Pietro Pasquiligi,
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
* 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. u 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."
-j- Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 241.
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 2000 miles, and
which before the present time was utterly unknown.
They ran along the coast between 600 and 700 miles
without arriving at its termination, on which ac^
count 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 haying 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, 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 they conceal the parts which nature forbids
us to expose with strong cords made of the sinews
or entrails of fishes.   Cm this account their appear-
ance 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 S%roken
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 (todim)
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 appear admirably fitted to endure labour, and will probably
turnout 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, t 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 his 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 conjecture seems to be, that they both fell victims to
the just indignation of the natives, whose wives,
* Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 239, 240.
■ "f* I observe that in the History of Discovery and Adventure
in the Polar Seas, 3d edition, pp. 187,188, Mr Murray has questioned the accuracy of the opinion stated by the biographer of Cabot, u that the objects of Cortereal's second voyage were timber
and slaves." The letter, however, of Pasquiligi seems to me decisive that, if not the sole, they were at least very principal objects
in the second voyage.
children, and fathers, had been stolen away during
their first visit to the coast. 'c 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 ten^
derness, 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."t
* Damiano Goes, Chronica del Rey Dom. Manuel, part i. c. 66.
■f Ibid, c 66. p. 87.
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 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 Gaspar Cortereal, is disgracefully garbled and corrupted,—for
the purpose, as it woukl 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,1
and that many authors not aware of its apocryphal
character, which has been acutely exposed by the
biographer of Cabot, have given a pernicious currency to (he fable of Madrignanon.
Aboutfourteen 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.
Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, pp. 251, 252.
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 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 his 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
* Letter of Robert Thorne.—Hakluyt, edition of 1589, p. 250.'
—u 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.
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
home.* From the high latitude reached by this
enterprising 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, arid
since known by his name.t   It is an extraordinary
* It is evidently to this. third voyage that the passage in Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 4, of the "Discorso sopra ilterzo 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 (Ramusio) in speaking
of the discoveries subsequently made by Verazzano, and of the
country of New France, remarks, that of this land it is not certain
as yet whether it is joined to the continent of Florida and New Spain,
or whether it is separated into islands, and may thus admit of a
passage to the kingaom of Cathay. u Come," he proceeds, u come
mi fu scritto gia molti anni sono, dal Signor Sebastian Gabotto nostro
Vinitianohuomodigrande esperienza et raro nell' arte del navigare,
e nella scienza di cosmografia: il quale avea navicato disopra di
questa terra della Nuova Francia a spese del Re Henrico VII.
d'Inghilterra e me diciva, come essendo egli andato lungamente alia
volta de ponentee quarta di Maestro dietroqueste Isoleposte lungo
la delta terra fini agradi sessanta sette e mezzo sotto il nostro polo
a xi. di Guigno 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 l'havessero fatto tornare a die-,
tro."   This discourse is dated 20th June 1553.
•j* 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 cited 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.
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 navigator, 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 successes 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., fitted out a squadron of four ships, the
command of which he intrusted 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 prd-
secute discoveries. He first steered his course for
Madeira, and thence sailed in a westerly direction
for twenty-five days, making in that time 500
leagues. A storm now attacked him, in which
his little vessel had nearly perished, but he at last
weathered the gale, and proceeding onwards for 400
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 ;t 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
last, being convinced that they had nothing to fear,
they completely recovered their confidence, and not
only brought provisions to the French, but assisted
them in drawing their boat on shore, and carefully
and minutely scrutinized every thing 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
sometimes ornamented with a garland .of birds'
feathers.   Their bodies were not disfigured or tat-
* Ramusio, Viaggi, vol. iii.   p. 420.—u Dovi scopsimmo una
terra nuova, non piu da gl'antichi ne da moderni vista.
•f- u Sta questa terra m gradi 34°."—Ramusio, voL iii. p. 420.
tooed 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 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 Savannah.t
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 a
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 cour-
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 420.
*J- Forster's Discoveries in the North, p. 433.
ageiailed, 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 of 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 Verazza-
no's own words, that the natives were going 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
Ramusio, voL iii. p. 421.
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, howevor, 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 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 jage 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 100 leagues farther, to
a sheltered and beautiful bay surrounded by gently rising hills, and discovered a large river, which
from its deptii seemed navigable to a considerable distance.. JFearful, 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.f 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 Rhodes both in its form and general aspect.
A contrary wind, however, rendered it impossible to
Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 421.
f Ibid.
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 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, tenor 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.t*^
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 422.
+ This country, according to Verazzano, was situated in 4l|°
of latitude (Ramusipj vol. iii. p. 422), which, if correct, would point
it out as the present flourishing state of Massachusetts.
The French now bade adieu to this kind people,
and pursued their discoveries for 150 leagues, exploring a coast which extended first towards the
east and afterwards to the north. The countrjrstill
presented an agreeable and inviting aspect, although
the climate became colder, and the regions along
which they passed more hilly. A progress 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 any thing 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 Penobscot.*
From this point he pursued his indefatigable course
for 150 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 700 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 co-
* 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.
Ionization. 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 " Pied-
montese 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 noj
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. 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 com-
The death of Verazzano appears to have thrown
* Memoir of Cabot, p. 278.
•f- Such is the account of Ramusio 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 to that of the writer of Cabot s hie. 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 is little or nothing. He was born
about the year 1485; his father was Pierandrea "Verazzano, a noble
Florentine, his mother Fiametta Capelti. 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 Ramusio,
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 East
Indies. It is much to be desired that some Italian scholar would
favour the world with the publication of this MS. of Verazzano.
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 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,*
" in so much that he did not see a cartload 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 bod-,
kin, 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-1
trees, in which they carried on a constant trade of
fishing, and caught great numbers of seals;   After
having almost circumnavigated Newfoundland, Car-
tier 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
* Ramusio, vol; iii. p. 435.
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 number,
including men, women, and children, was upwards
of 300.    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 every thing 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 fall 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. Car-
tier, 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 precarious, 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.t
Having been received with favour and distinction, Cartier, 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 Hermiril-
lon of 40 tons burden. The crews solemnly prepared themselves for their voyage by confession and
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 438.
f Ibid. p. 440.
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. 'e 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, Cartier gave 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 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, si-
tuated 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 Taignoagny 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 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
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 441.
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.
te It was," according to the original account of Car-
tier, % 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."t
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 and his
people should be deprived of the advantages of
an uninterrupted communication with the white
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 443. Seconda Relatione di Jacques Cartier.
-j- Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 216.
strangers, and every possible device was put in execution to deter them from their purpose. One of
these stratagems was so ludicrous 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 as 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
coining towards them, holding their hands joined
together, 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 Hochelaga, 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
. . . . .   .   j
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 218; and Ramusio, vol. iii* p. 444.
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 scruple after a
short acquaintance to make a present to Cartier of
two of his children, one of whom, a little girl of
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, redbreasts, 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 tim-
jber, 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 ii, 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 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
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 445; and Hakluyt, vol. iii. pp. 220, 221.
 cartier's second voyage*
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. e| 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 beinff healed or not in the hand of their Creator.*
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 such a creed, persuaded
them that Cudraigny was no god but a devil, and
at his departure promised to return egain, and bring
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 448.
cartier s second voyage.
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," says 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 full
of smoke till it comes out of their mouth and nostrils,
even as 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 salubrious and far-famed plant of tobacco, t
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 de-
itailed by Cartier,—swollen legs, extreme debility,
putrified gums, and discoloration of the skin and
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 449.
f Ibid.
 cartier s second voyage.
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 Louvain 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
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 seeured 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.f 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
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 451.
-j- Ibid. p. 453.
more likely, as the arrival of Cartier and the intraduction 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 colony. -0f
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 Baccalaos,—
empty and ridiculous 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; but 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 saH on a voyage of discovery;
but they shared the fate of Verazzano and the Cor-
tereals, 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.
The plan of this historical disquisition now leads
us to the examination of some remarkable enter-
prises of the Spaniards for the extension of their
immense dominions in the New World, along the
more northern coasts of America.   The bold and
V, i
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 Baccalaos,
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 brigan-
tineson 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 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
bight 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
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 295.   Memoir of Cabot, p. 263.
I '
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 pearls. 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 :■—<c 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 advanced; - and
we sailed from the said port by the coast of Saca-
tula 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."t   A voyage
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 364; and Ramusio, Viaggi, vol. iii. p. 355.
•f Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 339. Murray's North America, vol. ii. p. 68.
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 any thing 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 Indians, however, discharged a shower of ar-
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 342.
rows against them, " by which," says Ulloa, " Be-1
recillo, 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
* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 409.   Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 345.
wild horses.* Beyond this island the Spaniards
attempted to continue their discoveries along the
coast of California; but 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 500 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."t
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 Culeacan, 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 Men-
* Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 351.    Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 419.
■f* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 424.
doza 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 conducted to no permanent results ; but the voyage of Alarchon 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 900 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 250, drawn up in 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. t{ They
began," says he in his letter to the viceroy Mendoza,
" to make a great murmuring among themselves,
* Ramusio, Viaggi, vol. iii. p. 363.
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 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 their 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
* Such is the translation of Hakluyt; but the passage in the original is obscure.
1   r
I  i
 If I
bodies were tattooed with coals, and the women wore
round their waist a great wreath of pained feathers,
glued together, and hanging down both before and
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 j 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 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 such as we were, and the sun till that hour
Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 364*
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 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, c 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.t
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
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 Fu9a, a veteran Spanish pilot,
* Hakluyt, vol. iii p. 429.   Ramusio, vol. iii. p. 356.
!fj Hakluyt, vol. iii. pp» 438, 439.
I. I
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 Fu£a 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 Fu£a, however, rests on
apocryphal authority.
Russian and English Voyages.
Behring—Tchirikow—Cook and Clerke—Meares—Vancouver—
Kotzebue. .
As the zeal of the Spanish government in extending
their discoveries upon the north-west coast of America abated, another great nation, hitherto scarcely
known to Europe, 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 north-east, 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 most 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 intrusted 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 discovered,—of all which they
were to keep an exact journal, and transmit it to St
Upon the death of Peter the Great, which happen-,
ed 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 Alexei Tchirikow ;
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
it $
of Liberia. After a survey of the rivers Irtisch, Ob,
Ket, Jenesei, Tungusca, and Ilim, they wintered at
Ilim, and, in the spring of 1?26, 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 staid
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 mean time a vessel had
been built at Ochotzk, in which the naval stores
were conveyed to Bolscheretzkoi in Kamtschatka.
From this they proceeded to Nischnei Kamtschat-
koi 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 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 extrem-
est 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
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 Pawlutzki penetrated by the rivers Nboina,
Bela, and Tcherna, 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
* Harris' Collection of Voyages, vol. ii. pp. 1020,1021 j Coxe's
Russian Discoveries, pp. 23, 24, 94.
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 seacoast,
and to communicate every evening with his canoes.
In this manner Pawiutzki 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, hav-,
ing advanced an important step in ascertaining the
separation between America and the remote northwesterly 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, Spang*
berg, 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 he 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 expedi-
tion of Behring, no less important and satisfactory
was destined to be fatal to its 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 com*
mander 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 Steller,
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 <e 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 southeast 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
 ! \-
IS lit
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
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 of. 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 Sawe-
low and six men.   Amongst these were some car-
rrr' ■    ——=roJ
penters 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 two boats which were observed
rowing from the land towards the ship. It was believed to be Demetiew and Sawelow; 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 anchor 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 with-
out 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, <c 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 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
on board were doubtless American imitations."t
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
* Muller, Decouvertes faites par les Russes, vol. i. p. 254.
•+■ Burney's History of North-eastern Voyages of Discovery,
p. 180.
$ Ibid. p. 164.
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, 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 parcel of hewn wood, with some smoked fishes like
large carp. They observed also marks of human
footsteps in the grass, but no natives were seen.   In
Coxe's Russian Discoveries, pp. 42, 43.
case, however, they should return, some small presents, such as it was conjectured might be suited to
their taste or their wants, were 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 rock 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, ec which was overspread wiflr 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 positive 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,
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, pp. 40, 41.
fhey 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 dis-
«sase, which prevailed to an alarming degree. AH
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 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
lus 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 bis 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." It
was evident he had never tasted ardent spirits or
smoked tobacco till this moment; and although every
effort was made to sootli 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 him, 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. " 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'; thei*
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
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, p. 60.
 f •
preparing to sail, when seven Americans caine in
their boats to the ship's side, and two of them catching hold of the entrance-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 shouts.*
They had now to struggle against a tedious continuance of westerly wind, 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 scurvy1,
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
Burney's North-eastern Voyages of Discovery, p. 170.
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, '' 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
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, p. 65.
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 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 tbe 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 600 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 Kamtschatka 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 sandhills 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 antiscorbutic 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
I   1
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 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
to 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 dwejljngs, 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 ineffec-,
* " 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."
-f- Coxe's Russian Discoveries, pp. 73, 74.
Jiieutenant Waxel, on tyhom, since the illness of
tne commodore, ithe command devolved, and Ky-
trow, the ship-master, continued healthy at sea;
and the necessity for exertion, in seeing every thing
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, whieh 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 foojd they were killed for their fine
skins, 900 being collected on the island, and equally divided among ^e crew- A dead whale, which
was thrown upon the coast, i^hey called their magazine, as it proved a resource when nothing better
could 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
In this miserable manner they continued to support life; but some of the crew sunk daily under tl$ej
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 hiscommander, "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 evidence that the Russians had taken possession
of the country."*
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
* Coxe's Russian Discoveries, p. 79.
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. i' 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 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 fete; 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 ea-
vityein 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 defi-
* We have availed ourselves of Coxe's translation of this passage, as published in his Russian Discoveries, pp. 85, 86.
eiency of tar; but by an ingenious contrivance it
was extracted from the new cordage 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 fhey
fixed firm in the ground, and upon this set the
copper kettle turned upside down, the apertures in
the lids bein