Imágenes de páginas

retti, and which states that the journal of Maldonado was in the hands of the Duc de l'Infantado: the same circumstance is mentioned by the writer of the Introduction to the voyage of Le Sutil and Mexicana, published at Madrid in 1802, who says that the Commander of this expedition was furnished with a copy of it, taken from that of the Duc de l'Infantado.—It is sufficiently clear, therefore, that the Spaniards of the present day are disposed to believe that some such voyage was made: they have, in fact, very strong testimony concerning it. In the Bibliotheca Hispuna of Nicolao Antonio, under the article · Laurent Ferrer Maldonado,' we are told that he was well skilled in nautical matters and in geography; that he published a book entitled · Imagen del Mundo,

c-and that he (Nicolao Antonio) had seen in the hands of Masscarenas, bishop of Segovia, the manuscript of a Voyage, being the Relation of the Discovery of the Strait of Anian, made by the author in the year 1588.** Antonio de Leon Pinelot also bears testimony to his talents as a navigator, and tells us, that he presented to the Council of the Indies (of which Pinelo was a member) two plans, one relating to rendering the magnetic needle not subject to variation, the other, to finding the longitude at sea. Now Pinelo, Antonio, the Bishop of Segovia, and Maldonado, were contemporaries, so that all doubt of the co-existence of such a person and such a manuscript is removed; and it is to be presumed that the members of the Consejo de las Indias' had the latter in their keeping, Mascarenas being a member and senator of that board. The question is, whether the manuscript, of which Amoretti has published the translation, in Italian, and after. wards in French, is the identical one mentioned by Antonio, and written by Maldonado ?

The account which Amoretti gives of it is this: and we have always found so much good faith in the Italian publishers of voyages and travels, from Ramusio to the present time, that we are inclined to yield implicit credence to his story. He says, that in examining the manuscripts of the Ambrosial library of Milan, of which he is librarian, with a view to publish (agreeably to the intention of its founder, the Cardinal Boromeo) such of them as should be found to contain new and instructive matter, his attention was arrested by a small volume written

Laurentius Ferrer Maldonado militiæ olim, &c.— Imagen del Mundo sobre la Esfera, Cosmografia, Geografia, y arte de Narigar, compluti apud Johannem Garsiam, 1626.

Relacion del Descubrimiento del Estrecho de Anian hecho por el Autor. Quam vidi M.S. apud D. Hieronymum Mascarenas regium ordinum militarium, deinde Conciliæ Portugalliæ Senatorem, Segoviensem nunc Antistitem. Expeditionem autem banc nauticam se fecisse anno 1588 autor ait.'--Bib. Hisp. tom. ii. p. 2

+ Epitome de la Biblioteca Oriental y Occidental, Nautica y Geografica, Madrid. 629.


in the Spanish language, and entitled ' A Relation of the Discovery of the Strait of Anian by Captain Laurent Ferrer Maldonado, Cowards the end of the 16th century,' &c. At first he considered it only as a tale to amuse the curious; but on reading it with attention, he found it stamped so strongly with the character of authenticity and veracity, that he determined to translate it, and to add to it some notes and a treatise to prove the truth of the Relation; and as M. de Humboldt and others had consigned it to the rank of geographical impostures, before they knew what it contained, he conceived himself called upon to justify the manuscript and his own researches, by giving to the world the present volume. He states fairly that he has not been able to trace, nor can he conjecture, how this manuscript had come into the possession of the founder of the Milan library; but the writing, he observes, is that of the end of the sixteenth, or beginning of the seventeenth century; and from the paper having on it Je filigrane du Pèlerin,'a common mark on the paper of that period, he conjectures it was written at Milan; concluding from the frequent omissions and the faults in the orthography, that it must have been copied in haste. How far this document may be entitled to the character of ‘veracity or authenticity'a brief examination will enable us to judge.

The memoir, or Relation as it is called, consists of thirty-five paragraphs.

The first eight are employed chiefly in enumerating the advantages that would result to Spain from the navigation to the Indies by the North-west passage; as the shortness of the voyage—the monopoly of the spice trade—the facility of sending troops to the colonies and the opening of a new door for the conversion of pagans. To secure these advantages, the necessity is pointed out of Spain being the first to get possession of the Strait of Anian; and the king is reminded that, the year before, the English had sent some ships in search of it,--all of which might just as well have been written by a clerk in the India Board of Madrid as by Maldonado. The last observation, however, is so far important that it determines the date of the memorial to be that of the voyage, the expedition of Davis in 1587 being that of the preceding year alluded to.

The ninth to the sixteenth inclusive contains general instructions for the navigation. They inform us, that by steering N. W. and running 450 leagues from Lisbon, the navigator will reach Friesland, anciently called Thyle, an island somewhat less than Iceland, lying in 60° N. latitude, and by continuing on that parallel 120 leagues, he will open the Strait of Labrador, 30 leagues in width; the land, on the left, low; on the right, mountainous; the latter forming two straits, one running to the N, E., the other to the N.W.- that to the north-west must be taken, and when the navi

gator has run 80 leagues, he will find himself in 64": from hence the strait takes a northerly direction, 120 leagues, to 72°, and then changes to the N. W. for 90 leagues, or to the 75th degree of latitude ; the whole length of the Strait of Labrador being 240 leagues, (it should be 290). From the northern extremity of the Strait of Labrador, the course changes to S. W. W. through an open sea, 350 leagues, which will reduce the latitude to 71°, and here some bigh land will appear on the coast of America. The course then changes to W.S.W. for 440 leagues, when the navigator will find himself on the 60th parallel of latitude, and at the entrance of the Strait of Anian. Maldonado then recapitulates the distances which he himself sailed, and which he states to be, from Spain to Friesland, 460 leagues; from thence to Labrador, 180; from thence through the Straits, 280 ; making 920; to which adding 790 across the sea, the total distance from Spain to the Strait of Anian is 1710 leagues.

Passing over the numerical blunders, we shall content ourselves with two observations on this part of the “ Relation:' the first is, that he sails along the northern coast of Labrador, or through Hudson's Straits, 290 leagues, an intricate and perilous navigation, through narrow passes so choked up with ice as frequently to make it nearly impracticable even in the summer months ;--yet Maldonado clears the whole of them, up to the 75th degree of latitude, before the month of March; that is to say, when the sun at noon was about 13" high, and the day not five hours long. The second observation is, that taking the courses and distances steered from the northern mouth of the Strait of Labrador, namely S.W. W.350 leagues, and W.S.W. 440 leagues; the latitude at the end of the first would not be 71“, nor at the end of the second 60°; and that, with these courses and distances, the navigator, instead of arriving at the Strait of Anian, (now Behring's Strait,) would be astonished to find himself on the other side of the peninsula of Kams. chatka, in the midst of the sea of Oskotsk, if the old Spanish league of 17 to the degree be reckoned; and 20 leagues to the degree would bave carried him to the middle of the sea of Kamschatka.

The seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth paragraphs relate chiefly to the short days and cold weather in going, the long days and warm weather in returning, the ease with which the Northern Ocean is navigated, and the error of those who suppose it to be entirely frozen over: he had before adverted to the possibility of persons being surprised to hear him talk of navigating in so high a latitude ; but, says he, the Hanseatics live in 72°, and we see every year, in their port of St. Michael, from 500 to 1000 ships, which must necessarily proceed to the parallel of 750 before they can pass thither from the Sea of Flanders.

The north cape, round which ships must necessarily proceed? in order to pass into the White Sea, is in latitude 71" 10, and is usually passed in 72", and from that to 73o, instead of 75“, and the port of St. Michael is in 645. These little mistakes could scarcely have been made by Maldonado, who was ' well skilled in the art of navigation, and who had written a treatise on geography. The port, besides, in 1558, was named St. Nicholas, and the town Kholmogar; it then consisted of nine houses ; and the trade, almost wholly English, was carried on in nine ships. In 1637 the town was burned down, and on being re-built it took the name of Archangel, from an adjoining monastery dedicated to the Archangel Michael : -circumstances which lead us to suspect that the • Relation' was written about the middle of the seventeenth, in

: stead of the end of the sixteenth century.

The twentieth to the thirty-second paragraph inclusive contains a topographical description of the celebrated strait of Anian, and the adjoining coasts of Asia and America, which, Maldonado is pleased to inform the king of Spain, are separated by it. To ascertain its relative position, the author takes a cruise of fifteen days; sailing S. W. one hundred leagues along the coast of America, he was then in the latitude of 55°; but on the whole of this coast he saw no traces of population. Now it so happens, that, from his port in Anian, which he repeatedly tells us is situated in 60", a S.W. course for one hundred leagues could not, as every common scaman could tell this skilful navigator,' bring him into latitude 55°, nor permit him to see any part of the coast of America ; its direction, instead of S. W. being rather to the Eastward of South. From the parallel of 55° however, he steers directly cast 120 leagues, which would have brought him, in fact, to the very middle of the sea of Kamschatka ; instead of which he found himself 'so near to the coast of a mountainous continent, that in many places he could see the natives; and on this he sagaciously observes, that,' according to correct cosmography, he judged that the land belonged to Tartary or Catai, and that the great city of Cambalu (Pekin) was only a few leagues distant.'

Such gross blunders in plain sailing and geography could not possibly be committed by one skilled in navigation :'_but we proceed to his topography of the Strait, and his description of the port at its southern extremity. He says, that on the coast of America, at the mouth of the strait which opens into the South Sea, there is a port capable of containing 500 vessels; that no human foot had trodden its shores, as would appear from a pond, on whose margin lay an infinite quantity of egg-shells of sea-fowls, which formed a kind of wall or dike above a para (3 feet) high, and eight paces broad. A river fell into the har

bour, into which a vessel of 500 tons might enter. The surrounding country was delightful to behold, consisting of plains of great extent, capable of tillage; the air soft and agreeable ; and the mildness of the winter apparent from the excellent fruits found dried on the trees, and remaining on them from the preceding year. Birds, beasts and fishes abound in this fine climate under the 60th parallel, in which nature would seem to have forgotten nothing but man; for none appeared during their stay.

We did not expect to find Cook called upon to support this de. scription of Maldonado; yet so it is. Amoretti is so much prepossessed in favour of the veracity and the authenticity of the * Relation, that he traces the most perfect accordance between the two navigators. No two descriptions however can be more at variance. Instead of any port, bay, or inlet, under the parallel of 60°, Cook found a straight coast; and a low point, to which he gave the name of Shoal-ness, occupies the place of Maldonado's harbour: the country perfectly naked, producing neither tree nor shrub; but no less than twenty-seven canoes came off from the very spot, each having a man in it. According to Cook, Behring's Strait is about sixty leagues long, and fourteen wide, in the narrowest part; the strait of Anian, in Maldonado, is fifteen leagues long; at the northern extremity not quite half an English mile wide, and at the southern about a quarter of a league, in the middle of which is a great rock or islet; so that, he observes, the whole strait is capable of being defended with a chain, provided one could be made strong enough ; but at all events two sentinels on the northern part, and three on the southern, one on each continent, and one on the islet, could give immediate notice by sig. nals of the approach of ships either from the Northern or the Pacific Ocean.

This description somewhat staggers Amoretti, though he is disposed to think that a point might be stretched on this occasion, by reading breadth for length, and thus bringing the fifteen leagues of Maldonado pretty nearly to the fourteen of Cook; but the difficulty of getting rid of the width would still remain. The Duc d'Almádover, however, helps him out of his dilemma, by suggesting that some extraordinary convulsion of the two coasts may have enlarged the strait since Maldonado's time, to the size which Cook found it to be; in short, any thing to give credit to the Voyage of Maldonado, and accommodate its geographical difficulties to the easy credulity of Amoretti. And though we now know that the Strait of Anian extends from the 66th to the 70th parallels of northern latitude, Maldonado, he says, called it 60, because all the preceding geographers of that century had laid down the Strait of Anian in 609 N. latitude,

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