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Nova Zembla all the summer, in consequence of the late winter having been long and severe; and, according to their information, the Strait north of Waigatz Island, between that and Nova Zembla, was yet full of ice. They said vessels of their country went every year through the Waigatz, and eastward beyond the River Ob, to a place called Ugolita, where they carried clothes and other merchandise, and were sometimes obliged to winter. That they always endeavoured to pass the winter near forests, and sometimes were necessitated to go many miles inland to find them. They thought it would be yet nine or ten weeks before the passage of the Waigatz would be entirely closed by the ice ; but that immediately after the first appearance of the sea freezing, it generally became all at once frozen over, so that people could go on the ice, over the sea, to Tartary.* They said, that beyond the Ob was a large river, named the Gillisse or Jenisei, towards which the Russians went in their loddies to traffic.
On the 30th, the Hollanders were yet in the Waigatz Strait, having been much incommoded by ice. This day one of their boats landed on the south side of the Strait, “the Continent," and met there twenty or twenty-five Samoyedes, who showed themselves
• "Seconde Partie de la Navig. par le Nord,” p. 10. And “Rec. des Voy. de la Comp.” Vol. i. p. 75.
ADVENTURE WITH A BEAR.
friendly. The Hollanders gave them victuals, which they received thankfully. At a distance were seen 100 or 150 more Samoyedes. The Hollanders landed again the next day. One among the Samoyedes appeared to be their chief. In answer to inquiries concerning the seas and countries Eastward, they said, " that the sea East of the Waigatz was five days sailing in extent; that then was found another strait, and after passing that strait, was a great sea.” They said also, “ that beyond the Jenisei was another river named Moleconsay, and just so far extended the domination of the Grand Duke. That the country beyond, to a great extent, was under the dominion of a Tartar Prince.”
Whilst the ships were in the Strait of Waigatz, two of the seamen who were on shore, went along the seabeach to look for shining or curious stones, when a bear approached them softly, and, before he was perceived, seized on one of them, who endeavoured, 'whilst the bear was beginning to devour him, to defend himself with his knife, but was quickly killed. Above twenty seamen were on shore at the time, and they hastened towards the bear, armed with pikes and arquebuses. The bear, on their approach, quitted his prey, and running towards them, seized another man, whom he tore in pieces. The rest fled at first; but some of them returned and killed the bear.
On the 3rd of September they cleared the Strait, and the sea appeared open and free of ice to the East. They sounded and found the depth more than 110 fathoms. They saw great whales, and the sea was of a fine clear blue ; all which were esteemed fortunate indications ; but in the evening it blew a storm from the N.W., and a large bank of ice was seen drifting fast towards them. On the 5th they were obliged to take shelter in a bay of the Continent, among rocks, to avoid being pressed on by the ice. They continued in unsuccessful endeavour to advance East North-eastward till the middle of the month, the weather increasing in sharpness and the nights in length. On the 15th, the commanders and principal persons of the fleet held council on board the ship of the Admiral, Cornelis Cornelisz Nay, at which they say: “We, the undersigned, declare that we have done our best before God and before the world, to penetrate by the North to China and Japan, as ordered by our instructions, until we have seen that it does not please God that we should continue our voyage, and that it is necessary we should desist. We therefore have resolved to make our route back to Holland with all diligence."
Signed by the Admiral, and
others of the Council.
BARENTSZ AND RIJP.
After the failure of this second expedition, the States General declined contributing to the further prosecution of the discovery; but they published a declaration, that if any city, company of merchants, or individuals, chose to be at the charge of another voyage, in search of a North-east passage to India, there should be no hindrance; and that if proof should be produced of the discovery of such a passage, they would bestow a pecuniary recompense on the discoverers.
The Council or municipal officers of the city of Amsterdam were not discouraged by the past failures, but fitted out two ships for another attempt. The agreement made with the seamen was, that they should have pay on a certain footing if they returned without succeeding, and on a superior if they were successful. In one ship, Jacob Heemskerk went as merchant or supercargo, and W. Barentsz as chief pilot; in the other, Jan Cornelisz Rijp was merchant and commander.
They set sail on the 18th of May, 1596. The 22nd they had sight of Shetland. Barentsz and Rijp differed here in opinion respecting the course they should pursue. Barentsz proposed to steer for the North end of Nova Zembla. Rijp was for steering a more northerly course, to get far to the North of all the land that was known, in hopes of finding there a clear sea which would admit of their sailing Eastward. Rijp would not yield, and Barentsz, rather than part company, followed him. On the 9th of June, in 74° 30 latitude, they discovered land, which proved to be an island about five leagues in extent. Here they anchored ; and on account of a combat they had with a large white bear, named it Beeren-eilandt.
From Beeren-eilandt they sailed on Northward, and the 19th they discovered another and larger land. Their latitude observed that day was 80° 11'. They sailed along the coast of this land South-westward in search of anchorage, to latitude 79° 30', and found good harbour, where they anchored in 18 fathoms.
“This land, the most Northern which to this time has been discovered in the world, has nevertheless verdure and herbage. The animals seen here are white bears, some larger than oxen ; reindeer, who feed on moss, and become so fat, that their flesh is excellent eating ; here are also foxes, white, grey, and some black. It was the difference between Willem Barentsz and Cornelisz Rijp that gave rise to the discovery of this land. It is named by the Hollanders Spilberg or Spitzbergen,* which signifies spindle or sharp-pointed mountains.”
• “Rec. des Voyages de la Comp.” Vol. i. p. 93, et seq.