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servation taken by the master on the 1st August, 1655, which determined the latitude to be 88° 56'; and it was further asserted that particular mention was made in these journals, of the sea being there entirely clear of ice, and that it was a hollow rolling sea, like that of the Bay of Biscay. There was besides published, about this time, “A brief Discourse by Joseph Moxon, fellow of the Royal Society,” in which the probability of a passage by the north pole to Japan is strongly contended for, and which this ingenious writer conceives to be practi
ledge of any land lying within eight degrees about the pole; and because he had reason to believe, on the contrary,“ that there is a free and open sea under the very pole.”—As the ground of this belief, he assigns the following circumstance. “Being about twenty-two years ago in Amsterdam, I went into a drinking-house to drink a cup of beer for my thirst, and sitting by the public fire, among several people, there happened a seaman to come in, who, seeing a friend of his there, whom he knew went in the Greenland voyage, wondered to see him, because it was not yet time for the Greenland fleet to come home, and asked him what accident brought him home so soon; his friend (who was the steer-man aforesaid in a Greenland ship that summer) told him, that their ship went not out to fish that summer, but only to take in the lading of the whole fleet, to bring it to an early market.
But, said he, before the fleet had caught fish enough to lade us, we, by order of the Greenland Company, sailed unto the north pole and came back again. Whereupon (his relation being novel to me) I entered into discourse with him, and seemed to question the truth of what he said; but he did ensure me it was true, and that the ship was then in Amsterdam, and many of the seamen belonging to her to justify the truth of it; and told me moreover, that they had sailed two degrees beyond the pole. I asked him if they found no land or islands about the pole? He told me—No, there was a free and open sea. I asked him if him if they did not meet with a great deal of ice? He told me, No, they saw no ice: I asked him what weather they had there? He told me fine warm weather, such as was at Amsterdam in the summer time, and as hot. I should have asked him more questions, but that he was engaged in discourse with his friend, and I could not in modesty interrupt them longer."*
Such accounts as these were amply sufficient to revive the notion of a north or north-east passage, which had so long lain dormant. It has generally happened, in this country, that some individual more sanguine than the rest of the community has, by
* A Brief Discourse, &c. By Joseph Moron. Harris's Voyages, vol. · p. :-Possibility of approaching the North Pole, asserted by Hon. D. Barrington.
his superior knowledge, greater exertions, or more constant perseverance, succeeded in bringing about a project to bear, which, in less vigorous or pertinacious hands, would have been suffered to die away. CAPTAIN John Wood appears to have been a man of this stamp; he was known as an active and experienced seaman, who had accompanied Sir John Narborough on his voyage through the straits of Magellan ; and he now stood forward as the warm advocate for the practicability of sailing by the northward or the north-eastward to the Indian seas and China,ếan opinion which he supported in a memorial to the king, assigning seven distinct reasons, and three arguments, for the existence of such a passage.
His reasons were-1. That Captain Barentz had been of opinion that the ice did not extend above twenty leagues from the shores of Greenland and Nova Zembla, and that the intermediate space of one hundred and sixty leagues was open sea. 2. That by a letter from Holland, published in the Philosophical Transactions, it appeared that the Russians had discovered the sea to be open on the north of Nova Zembla. 3. That from the report of some Dutchmen wrecked on the coast of Corea, it appeared that whales were caught on that coast with English and Dutch harpoons in them. 4.
The story of the Dutchman told to Mr. Joseph Moxon. 5. The story of the Dutch ship that went within one degree of the pole, told to him by Captain Goulden. 6. The report of Captain
journal of Captain Wood is so meagre, that, if it were not for his supposed latitudes and his situation “ according to judgment,” it is not easy to follow his track or to trace his place on any particular day. By the 22d, however, he had reached the lat. 75° 59', at which time the ice appeared about a league from the ship, and the weather was cold and snowy. They found many openings in the ice which allowed them to proceed, and it is said that the pieces of ice detached by the current from the main field “ represented the shapes of trees, beasts, fishes and fowls.” Among the ice
they got sight of land, which was the west coast of Nova Zembla. The depth of the sea was eighty fathoms or 480 feet; yet so smooth and clear was the water, that it is stated “they could discern the ground very plain,” and even discover the shells at the bottom. On the 29th, on wearing the Speedwell to avoid the ice, she struck upon a ledge of rocks under water. Fortunately the Prosperous pink was close at hand, though it does not appear that she was then able to afford them the least assistance. They had scarcely succeeded in landing the bread and the carpenter's tools, to rebuild the long boat, in the event of the Prosperous not being able to approach them on account of the ice, when the ship went entirely to pieces, and the fog prevented them from seeing their consort. All the crew, however, were safely got on