« AnteriorContinuar »
it becomes triple, forming a good security against accidents happening to the abdomen ; this is fringed round with a cutting of the same substance; they also wear leggins, mockisons, and cuffs, the whole made of the deer-skin, and worn with the hair side next to the body, the outside lackered with oil and earth, admirably adapted to repel the severity of the weather; the only difference in the dress of the two sexes, is the addition of a hood attached to the back of the cossack of the female for the reception of children. The males, on having occasion to use their bows, have to disengage the right shoulder and kneel down on the right knee; the bow is kept perpendicular, and the lower extremity supported against the left foot; their arrows display some ingenuity, for the blade, which is of iron, is so proportioned to the shaft, that when missing their object in
become now a buoy, and they take it up at pleasure; the blade of the arrow is shouldered, but not barbed, Their snow shoes, or racketts as they are called by some, differed from all others that I have seen; the circular part of the bow, which was cross barred with skin-thong, was in breadth about fifteen inches, and lengthways near three feet and a half, with a tail of a foot long ; this was to counter-balance the weight of the front, before the fore cross beam. So far their make is like ours, with the difference of length, which must be troublesome in the woods ; but if my conjectures are right, they travel but little in the woods when the snow is on the ground; now this being placed on the ground and the foot in it, it forms a curve from the surface, both ends being elevated. Their reason for this is obvious, for the twofold purpose of preventing any quantity of snow from resting before the foot, and the other to accelerate their motions. Without causing suspicion, I could not venture to ascertain their exact numbers; but I conceived there could not be less than thirty-five grown-up persons, of whom probably two thirds were women, some of the men being probably absent; the number of children was about thirty, and most of them not exceeding six years of age, and never certainly were finer infants seen.
Whatever their numbers may be in the interior of Newfoundland, there did not appear to be any want of provisions ; the quantity of venison we saw packed up was very considerable; there were besides on the margin of the pond whole carcasses, which must have been killed ere the frost set in, seven of them being frozen within the ice; the packs were nearly three feet in length, and in breadth and depth fifteen inches, packed up with fat venison cleared of the bone, and in weight from a hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds, each pack being neatly cased round with bark. The lakes and ponds abound with trout, and flocks of wild geese annually visit them in the months of May and October ; and their vigorous appearance points out, that the exercise to procure food is only conducive to health.
The opinion, therefore, of their numbers being few, because of their not being seen so much as formerly, is I think an erroneous one. That they should not appear near the coasts of the island is easily explained. The settlers thought they could not do a more meritorious act than to shoot an Indian whenever he could fall in with him. They were thus banished from their original haunts into the interior, of which they had probably but little knowledge, their chief dependance for food being fish and sea fowl. They probably were not then as now provided with the proper implements for killing deer, at least in sufficient quantities for their subsistence. As our establishments and population increased to the northward of Cape Freels, they were obliged to retreat farther from the coast; but the same evil that forced the natives to retreat, brought with it the means whereby they might still procure subsistence with a more independent life; for as the fisheries increased and the settlers became more numerous, the natives were enabled to obtain iron and other articles by plunder and from wrecks.
There are various opinions as to the origin of the Newfoundland Indians ; some conceiving them to have come from the continent of America, others that they are the descendants of the old Norwegian navigators, who are supposed to have discovered this island near a thousand years ago. I had persons with me that could speak the Norwegian and most of the dialects known in the north of Europe, but they could in no wise understand them; to me their speech appeared as a complete jargon, uttered with great rapidity and vehemence, and differed from all the other Indian tribes that I had heard, whose language generally flows in soft melodious sounds.
The general face of the country in the interior exhibits a mountainous appearance, with rivers, ponds, and marshes in the intermediate levels or valleys; the timber, which is mostly white and red spruce, fine birch and ash, is much stunted in its growth, and those trees which have arrived at any considerable dimensions are generally decayed at the heart. In advancing into the interior, the birch diminishes both in size and quantity till it almost wholly disappears. In many places the woods are burnt down for a considerable extent, and in others young woods have sprung up, and their several growths evidently shew the fires to have been made at different periods, but none had been burnt for thirty miles below the lake; this general remark is made froin observation on the banks of the river. The pond on which the natives were found does not appear to have been discovered from any excursion from the north side of the island; but there is no question of its having been seen in some route from the Bay of Islands along by the Humber River, or from St. George's Bay by a communication of waters; for in Cook and Lane's chart, published by Laurie and Whittle in May 1794, there is a pond delineated, which, from relative distances and appearances, I have no doubt to be the same on which our unfortunate companions lost their lives.
A Relation of the Discovery of the Strait of Anian; made by me, Capt. Lorenzo Ferrer Maldonado, in the Year 1588; in which is given the Course of the Voyage, the Situation of the Strait, the Munner in which it ought to be fortified, and also, the Advantages of this Navigation, and the Loss which will arise from not prosecuting it.
It will be necessary, in the first place, to state the advantages which may result from the navigation of the Strait of Anian into the South Sea :-Having well considered the route which has hitherto been taken to the Philippines, China, Japan, and other parts of that sea, it appears from correct charts that almost half the length of the voyage will be saved by sailing through this strait. This will easily be perceived on inspecting a terrestrial globe, or a map having the pole in its centre, though not apparent on a plain chart, which exhibits the meridian at the very pole as large and expanded as if it were the equinoctial line; and therefore in such charts one route will not seem shorter than another: this theory may perhaps require demonstration—yet it is unnecessary to treat of it here; suffice it to say, that by navigating this strait, little short of half the voyage is abated ;—besides this advantage, it is productive of another much greater, namely, that after one embarkation a ship may proceed directly from Spain to the Philippines; but it cannot tend to shorten the voyage when it is necessary to disembark in New Spain and proceed one hundred and fitty leagues over-land. Hence it happens that the. greater number of the people, who are sent to those parts as recruits, remain in New Spain, either exhausted by the
fatigues of the voyage, or attracted by the delights of that country. Besides this it has also another great advantage; namely, that your Majesty, (trading with all the spiceries of the Moluccas, the archipelago and other parts,) by means of this strait, might have sole possession of that trade with the greatest ease; and storing its produce up in the magazines of Seville, it would yield more than five millions a year, obliging many nations to come to Spain for that commodity,—and, in return, they would bring in abundance all things necessary for those kingdoms, rendering it needless to export the silver which comes every year from India, by which Spain is left in such great want of specie. Let it be remembered also, that by navigating this strait it is in our power to prevent the trade between China and India, and to transfer it to Spain, which will also extend to the Philippines and the countries in those parts; for the trade of China with India has been most disadvantageous
trade Spain used to carry on. This is proved to be the cause why your Majesty's commerce is so much diminished; while China and the Philippines carry on this trade with India to such an extent, that it is impossible for us to maintain our possessions there, as is requisite, in order to resist our enemies, who are numerous ; in consequence of which they must decline and fall to nothing :whereas, on the contrary, by navigating this strait, they might increase so much in number, wealth and power, that they would attract fleets of merchant ships in as great numbers as those which go to India, producing to Spain, great abundance of the products of China and Tartary, and of other lands at a very cheap rate; for of gold alone we may obtain two millions every year, from which, we may derive great profit, since gold in China is of less than half the value that it is here ; added to which, many other commodities may be acquired, which now these kingdoms are supplied with by their very enemies, who