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want of space, our sketch will necessarily be but very slight. We gather the account from the Sagas of Eirek the Red and Thorfinn Karlsefni; and here we may be allowed to observe, that the Sagas relating to the discovery and colonization of Greenland have been so strongly confirmed in modern times by the discovery and translation of Runic inscriptions, ruins, &c., and generally are found to bear on their faces such evidences of truthfulness, that the conclusion is warranted, that those relating to America are equally deserving attention.
Among those who accompanied Eirek the Red to Greenland was Herjûlf, whose son Bjarni was at that time on a trading voyage to Norway. Returning to Iceland in the course of the summer, of the year 986, and finding that his family had left the island, Bjarni resolved to follow them, and pass the winter, as he had been used to do, at his father's fireside. He accordingly set sail, though neither he nor any of his men had ever navigated the Greenland seas, and for many days was driven by tempestuous north winds, accompanied by dense fogs, he knew not whither. When the weather cleared up, he descried land, which, on approaching, he found to be moderately elevated and overgrown with wood. Being convinced that it could not be Greenland, which had been represented to him as distinguishable at a distance by its snow-capped mountains, he left it to larboard, and, standing out to sea, after sailing two days again descried land, lower than the former, but also overgrown with wood. Continuing his course with a south-west wind, he came in three days to a lofty island, the shore of which presented mumerous icebergs and glaciers. The country not appearing to Bjarni very attractive, he again stood out to sea, and after sailing four days, with fresh gales, reached Herjulfnes, in Greenland, where his father was settled.?
6 The reader who desires further information on this particular point will find the subject very ably treated by Mr. Blackwell, in his Supplementary Chapter to Mallett's “ Northern Antiquities."- Bohn's Series, pp. 250—276.
Many years after this, when Bjarni's important voyage began to be talked about, even in Norway, Leif, son of red-handed Eirek, purchased a vessel, and with a crew of about thirty-five men, set sail, in the year 1000, in order to follow up, if possible, the discovery. The first land they made was that which Bjarni had seen last, a bare rugged plain of broad flat rocks, which bore no herbage of any kind, and answers very well to the south-eastern shore of Newfoundland. Continuing their voyage, they next arrived at a low level coast, thickly wooded, to which they gave the name of Markland, or Woodland. This description bears also a striking resemblance to the northern coast of Nova Scotia. After erecting houses and passing the winter on the spot, which, there is every reason to believe, was known six centuries later as New England, in the spring they loaded their vessel with timber,—then, as it is now, a very scarce article in Greenland—and their long boat with grapes, and set sail for home, bestowing on the country on which nature appeared to have lavished
of her bounties, the name of Vinland, or the Land of the Vine.
Thorvald, Leif's brother, visited the country in the year 1002, and was killed in a skirmish with the Esquimaux. This occasioned a third son of Eirek to go there also, in order to bring home his brother's remains, but he was blown away into
? “Northern Antiquities," p. 251–2.
Baffin's Bay, where he and most of his followers were carried off by a contagious disease.
In 1007, and, in fact, occasionally, until as late as the year 1290, Vinland was visited by the Northmen, but it does not appear that they ever made any attempt at colonization.
The deepest obscurity still envelopes everything connected with a voyage to the American continent, said to have been made, in the year 1170, by Madoc, Prince of Wales, son of Owen Gwynedd. It is a question worthy of the most severe examination by the traveller, the ethnographer, and the student, and it is to be hoped that the attention which has lately been drawn to the subject, will be the means of renewing the desire for the settlement of so interesting a question.s
An ancient voyage to the North was performed by Pytheas, a citizen of Marseilles, who described his course to have been along the eastern coast of England and Scotland, and six days farther, into the depths of ocean; at the end of that time he arrived at an island, the “ Ultima Thule” of Ptolemy. Here his progress was arrested by a barrier of a peculiar nature, by something which was neither earth, air, nor sky, but composed of all three, through which it was found impossible to penetrate.
Ohthere, or Ochter, a daring Northman, who appears to have lived on the northern extremity of Norway, and to have been engaged in the service of King Alfred, to whom he related his voyage (which that illustrious prince wrote down in the Anglo-Saxon language), “ being determined to find out, once on a time, how far this
country extended due north, and whether any one lived to
8 See Sir James Alexander's “ L'Acadie.”
the north of the wastes occupied by the Northmen," &c.,1° undertook a voyage, A. D. 890, which Forster delineates as extending to the interior of the White Sea, but he is supposed not to have reached farther than the river Kola. Captain James Burney, in his “ Chronology of North-eastern Voyages," observes (p. 5)—" It is not too much to say in praise of the royal historian and of the voyager, that few modern discoveries are more clearly and intelligibly described than this voyage and discovery made by Ochter.” 11
But the obscurity which envelopes the early voyages to the frozen regions of the North, would require far more space to investigate thoroughly than our pages afford. We will, therefore, pass at once to that period in the history of discovery and research in the polar regions, after the invention of the mariners' compass had entirely changed the face of maritime affairs, when the ravens, to whose powerful wing the daring sea-kings were wont to trust in their voyages of exploration, were left to rest quietly at home; "the light of the stars, the guidance of the sea-coast, were no longer necessary; trusting to the mysterious powers of his new friend, the sailor steered out fearlessly into the ocean, through the bewildering mists or the darkness of night;" a new and glorious era was commenced in the history of commerce and navigation.
In 1380, Nicolo Zeno, a Venetian merchant, is said to have undertaken a voyage to Flanders, in which he was cast away upon a coast which he calls Friesland. “ The position of this unknown shore has been a subject of controversy, and some have even had recourse to the hypothesis of its having been since swallowed up by the ocean. The whole voyage has been considered as a complete fabrication by the talented author of the * Memoir of Sebastian Cabot,"
10 Barrington's Miscellanies, p. 460.
11 It was published in the original Anglo-Saxon by the Hon. Daines Barrington. English translations of the voyage are in Hakluyt, in Dr. Reinhold Forster's “ Discoveries in the North,” and in Turner's “ History of the Anglo-Saxons.”
"12 who believes it to have been got up by the Portuguese, to support their spurious claims to the priority of discovery of the American continent, in the voyage of Gaspar Cortereal, which will be noticed in its proper place. This is likewise the opinion of Captain Zahrtmann, hydrographer to the Danish royal navy, who has written a very learned paper on the subject, to be found in the fifth volume of the “ Journal of the Geographical Society of London.”
Piero Quirino, another Venetian gentleman, is said to have sailed on a similar voyage
year 1431, and to have been wrecked on the coast of Norway.
12 London: Hurst & Co., 1831. This valuable work is distin. guished alike by its deep research as by its tone of asperity; the latter probably called forth, in some measure, by the errors of preceding writers on the same subject; its authorship is attributed to Mr. R. Biddle, the American senator.