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Strait, and that the latitude was observed 70°, which was more North than expected ; for the course had been held S.E. and S.E. by E. “We ought to attribute these errors,” Linschoten says, “to the variation of the compass.” It is however to be remarked, that observations at sea for the latitude, were not at the time to be safely relied on within a third of a degree.
At the distance of something more than twenty leagues from the Waigatz, the coast was found to decline more Southward, forming a gulf, of which they did not see the bottom; but they saw the land on the farther side, where the coast lay in a N.E. and S.W. direction, and they doubted not its being a continuation of the continent. They sailed along this coast to the N.E., not much obstructed by ice, but not favoured by the winds. The sea was deep, their soundings at one time being 132 fathoms, and at another time their lines did not reach the bottom.
On the 11th of August, the farthest land they had in sight to the N.E. was estimated to be fifty Dutch leagues from the Waigatz. “ The coast was sandy and clear, and as straight and level as if it had been formed by line and rule.” Linschoten relates, “On the distant shore were seen numerous small hills, which had at one time an appearance like trees, at another time like animals. This effect was produced by the disposition of vapours in the air.
in the air. At one time we thought we saw three men walking on the strand, but on coming nearer they were found to be hillocks; yet some on board persisted in asserting them to be living beings.” Other similar illusions are noticed in this voyage.
The shore was sandy, but of good elevation, and in parts covered with bulrushes. Soundings were found at a moderate depth near the land. The sea was rough from the northward, “and the coast extended to the north-east, which made us no longer doubt,” says Linschoten, “ of there being a free passage. The ice had nearly disappeared, and seemed to be already melted; but the north-east and north winds which blew, being contrary to our route, and the season for this navigation being already passed away, it was unanimously resolved to sail back to our own country. Accordingly, in the beginning of the night (of the 11th) we made sail to the W. by N. with the wind at N.N.E. and fair weather; but the sun had not appeared for us. to observe our latitude."
With so many favourable circumstances, this was. certainly closing the campaign too early. The greatest evil they had met with in this sea was the fogginess of
In Commodore Byron's voyage, preparation was made for anchoring in a port which the Commodore and his people thought they had discovered ; but which proved to be a fog bank.
the atmosphere, which frequently would not permit them to see a ship's length before them, and rendered the navigation perilous. They continued their course W. by N. till noon on the 12th, when the latitude was observed 71° 10' N.
They repassed the Strait on the 14th, and on the 15th were joined by Barentsz, returning from the North of Nova Zembla. Girard le Ver,* who has written an account of the Northern voyage, and describes this meeting, relates, that “afterwards discoursing together concerning the places they had seen in their voyage, and what each had discovered, he of Enchuysen said, that when he was past the Waigatz he found the sea open, and had sailed good 50 or 60 leagues to the East, so that he was persuaded he was about as far as where the river Ob, which descends from Tartary, falls into the sea, and that the land of Tartary there extends again to the North-east. And he conjectured that he was not far from Cape Tabin, which is the exterior angle of Tartary, whence the coast declines towards the kingdom of Cathay, extending first towards the Southeast and then towards the South. That having thus much discovered, as it was late in the year, and their commission ordered them to return before the winter, they sailed back through the Waigatz.”* Both outward and homeward, the ships under Nay went through the passage south of Waigatz Island, to which the Hollanders gave the name of Nassau Strait.
* Of the three voyages made W. Barentsz to the North-east, Girard le Ver sailed with him in the second and third ; but wrote a history of all the three.
It is exceedingly curious, that encouragement should alike have been found for a north-west and for a northeast passage to India, and on authority equally questionable. Whilst a fabulous Strait of Anian was provided for the north-west passage, the mountain Tabin, on the uncertain reports transmitted from the ancient Greeks, was assumed as the northern promontory of Asia, beyond which the land was to decline southward to the Indian Seas. It is so represented in the maps of the best geographers of the latter part of the 16th and of the 17th century.
The 26th of September the four vessels returned to Amsterdam.
It appeared in this expedition, that it was less difficult to pass through the Waigatz than to go by the North of Nova Zembla ; that the voyagers had not failed of making the proposed discovery from obstruction by ice or land; and that if they had arrived more early in the sea east of Nova Zembla, there would have been a good probability of their making the passage.
*“Première Partie de la Navigation par le Nord.” Amsterdam, 1598, p. 7.
Under this persuasion, in 1595 the Hollanders fitted out seven vessels for the northern navigation, provided both for trade and for prosecuting of the discovery of a passage by the north-east to India. The States General and Prince of Orange took part in the adventure, contributing towards defraying the expense. Jacob Van Heemskerk, J. H. Van Linschoten, and Jan. Cornelisz Rijp, went as commis, or merchants and directors, in the ships to be employed on the discovery, and William Barentsz as captain and principal pilot. It was directed, that as soon as the vessels should have passed Cape Tabin, one of them should be despatched back to Holland with the news of that event.
Notwithstanding that the want of success in the former expedition was attributed principally to the lateness of their outset, the present expedition did not depart from the Texel till the end of July. After passing the North Cape, the ships divided, some going to the White Sea. Those for the discovery proceeded to the Waigatz, and arrived at the entrance of the Strait on August the 19th. The 24th, in the Strait, they met a sem or small lodding, belonging to a port in the White Sea, named Pennago, which had been to the North in search of the teeth of the walrus, whaleoil, skins, and birds, which commodities they sold to Russian merchants. They had been shut up by ice in