Imágenes de páginas

they had before coasted to the 80° of latitude, it,

which case he must have reached the 81st degree of northern latitude.

The three voyages of Barentz are written by Gerrit de Veer, who was on all of them; the first two have also been published by Linschoten, who enters into more nautical details, and gives views of the land and charts of the bays, harbours, headlands, &c.; but the deepest interest attaches to the last voyage, of which it is to be regretted there is no good translation in the English language.


Purchas, in his “ Pilgrimes,” stoutly asserts the honour of the first discovery of Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla to be due to our countrymen, Sir Hugh Willoughby and Steven Burough ; and though he avows his partiality for the Dutch, who“ in the glory of navigation are so neere us, and worthie to be honoured,” yet it is most true, he adds, that “the English hath beene the elder brother, a doctor and ductor to the Hollanders, in their martiall feats at home, and neptunian exploits abroad."* To a certain extent this is unquestionably true. In all their early foreign voyages they


* Purchas his Pilgrimnes, vol. iji. p. 461.

engaged Englishmen as their pilots. We have seen in the preceding voyages of Barentz, that in facing the ferocious bear, a Scotchman was one of the most stout-hearted of the party ; and the Dutch themselves admit, that an Englishinan of the name of Brunell or Brownell, “moved with the hope of gain, went from Enkhuysen to Pechora,” where he lost all by shipwreck, after he had been on the coast of Nova Zembla, and given the name of Costin-sarca (qu. Coasting-search ? *) to a bay situated in about 711°; but it does not any where appear, and the brief journal of Sir Hugh Willoughby by no means sanctions such a supposition, that this ill-fated commander was ever within many degrees of Spitzbergen : the discovery of this land is certainly due to the Dutch. It might not have been suspected, however, from De Veer's account of Barentz's three voyages, that the extraordinary man, whose name stands at, the head of this section, was one of the Englishmen employed on one or more of those voyages. It is very probable, however, that the fact is so, and that, in the year 1596, he accompanied Cornelis Ryp to Spitzbergen. There can be no doubt of his having lived some time in Holland, and been in the practice of piloting Dutch ships; though, in the short account he gives of himself, in his two letters addressed to his wife from Japan,

* Forster thinks, Constant-search.


he is silent on this subject. * It could not, however, be any other than himself who gave the narrative, which follows, to the Portugueze jesuits at the court of Japan; for his good friend Timothy Shelton of London, who, he tells us, was pilot of the Admiral, was lost in that ship, and Thomas Adams, his brother, was slain in battle.

It is well known that William Adams was engaged as master-pilot of a Dutch fleet of five ships, bound on a voyage to the East Indies through the strait of Magellan, which circumstance alone proves that his character must have been well established in Holland. We know also that the only vessel which escaped shipwreck was that in which he was pilot; and that it was saved only to be cast away on the coast of Japan; that through the favour which he found in the eyes of the Emperor, on account of his skill in building ships, and instructing his people in mathematics and navigation, he was the means of introducing both the English and the Dutch to trade with that empire; and that he was never permitted to leave the country.t.

Now it is mentioned incidentally in the records of Portugueze navigation, that an Englishman had performed a voyage to the northward, to a

* Purchas's Pilgrims, vol. i. p. 125.

+ Purchas's Pilgrims, ibid.-Harris, Coll. of Voy. vol. i. p. 856 -Astley, Coll. &c.

degree of latitude beyond that which at this period had ever been attained ; and though no name is given, yet it is evident, from the exact date and other circumstances, that this Englishman could have been no other than William Adams.

Diogo de Couto,* in detailing the disastrous circumstances of the expedition sent by the Dutch round Cape Horn, in the year 1598, under the Vice-admiral Simon de Cordes, observes, that one of the ships was driven by a storm on the coast of Japan, having lost by a contagious disease her Captain, whom he calls Corda, and one hundred and fifty men; only twenty-five remaining alive, who had more the appearance of corpses than of living beings, and utterly unable to manage the ship. “ The pilot of this ship,” says Couto, “was an Englishman, a good cosmographer, and with

jesuits at Meaco, that the Prince of Orange had on several occasions employed him on services of much importance; and particularly in the years 1593, 1594, and 1595, he sent him to discover the route above Biarmia and Finmarchia for his ships

* Diogo de Couto, Decad. xii. Chap. 2.---The Author is indebted for this passage in Couto, and for the account of the Çortereals, to his highly esteemed friend Thomas Murdoch, Esq. of Portland Place, whose extensive acquaintance with Spanish and Portugueze literature would, and it is to be hoped will, enable him to favour the public with many hidden treasures in those languages,



to proceed to Japan, China, and the Moluccas, to procure the riches of those islands; considering this route not only much shorter, but also much safer from our corsairs : and that the last attempt was made in 1595, (probably 1596,) when he reached eighty-two degrees north; and although it was in the middle of summer, and the day almost continual, as there was no night, except for about two hours,* yet was the cold so excessive, with so much sleet and snow driving down those straits, that he was compelled to return. And he asserted, that if he had kept close to the coast of Tartary, on the right hand, and had run along it to the eastward, to the opening of Anian, between the land of Asia and America, he might have succeeded in his undertaking.”

“ And this pilot further said, that the Dutch would not abandon the attempt until they should accomplish their object, on account of the great importance they attached to this route.”

" And the English have already attempted to discover this route towards the west, between the islands of Grotland (Greenland) and the land of Labrador; but on account of the same difficulties

* Couto must have mistaken the jesuits, or the jesuits Adams, in relating this part of the story, as the latter well knew there could be no night for upwards of four months in such a latitude. From a want of making due allowance for the extraordinary refraction in high latitudes, most of the old navigators have carried Spitzbergen a full degree higher than it is.

« AnteriorContinuar »