Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with Arctic discovery. His intentions were, to endeavour to find a passage, if possible, directly across the pole itself. To carry out this bold idea, this great navigator sailed on the 1st of May, in command of a small vessel, the name of which is unknown, with a crew of ten men and a boy. On the 13th of June, Hudson fell in with land, but thick fogs obscured it for several days; when, however, the weather cleared, he beheld a bold headland, covered with snow, and high land behind it, to which he gave the name of the Mount of God's Mercy. His latitude here he estimated at 70°. Ranging north-eastward, in 73° he sighted high bold land, without snow, even on the most lofty summit. To this part of the coast he gave the name of Hold-with-Hope. On the 27th of June, the coast of Spitzbergen was dimly seen through the fog, along which he continued to sail until he had passed, as he says, the latitude of 813, and saw it still, stretching continuously as far as 82°; in this, however, he must have been mistaken, and imagined the large fields and masses of ice to have been land, as the northern extreme of Spitzbergen does not lie beyond 81°; unless, indeed, he had stood over to the west, so as to have again fallen in with the Greenland coast. On the 31st of July, his provisions failing, Hudson bore up for home, and coasting along Spitzbergen, some parts of which appeared very agreeable, arrived safely in the Thames on the 15th September.

On the 22nd of April, 1608, Hudson sailed from the Thames in another attempt. He was off the North Cape on the 3rd of June. In latitude 75', he first fell in with the ice, through which he found it impossible to penetrate, and from which, fortunately he escaped with only “a few rubs.” From the 9th to the 15th of June, little progress was made, on account of the ice and the fog; on the latter day, two of the ship’s company solemnly avowed that they had beheld a mermaid, which, however, unfortunately disappeared before others could be summoned to witness the strange sight. Baffled by heavy north and north-easterly gales, Hudson was forced to steer to the southward, “ the hopes of a passage being gone this way, by meanes of our nearenesse to Nova Zembla, and the abundance of ice.” He landed on the coast, in latitude 72° 12', and found quantities of whalebone and deer's horns, whilst the sea was full of morses, whales, and seals, which induced him to hope that the expenses of the voyage might be paid by their capture ; but he did not succeed in his expectations, and on the 6th July, “ being void of hope of a north-east passage,” he made sail for England, and arrived at Gravesend on the 26th August.

It is probable that Hudson's patrons were not pleased with his voyage, for we next year find him in the service of the Dutch East India Company, who appear to have again turned their attention to the north. His account of the voyage' is, however, very vague and unsatisfactory, a charge indeed which has been brought against him by various writers. He seems to have reached Wardhuys on the 19th of May, and then to have immediately turned the ship's head, and steered direct for the coast of North America. 66 The truth is, Hudson's own mind seems to have been fixed on northwestern discovery. This appears from several hints in his second narrative; and he was, probably, inclined to content himself with a mere show of proceeding eastward, that, apparently baffled, he

? See Purchas, and the Collections of the New York Historical Society.

might follow his favourite direction." Hudson thus discovered the bay and river, on the shores of which New York now stands. Of his first arrival off this coast, an extraordinary tradition has been handed down among the native Indians of the neighbourhood, which has been preserved and communicated to the New York Historical Society by the Rev. John Heckewelder, for many years a Moravian missionary to the Indians of Pensylvania.3

The narrator states that he received it from various old and respectable Indians of different tribes, about the middle of the eighteenth century. The narration

into details which it would be useless here to relate; but the substance of it is as follows :-Long since, ere the Indians were acquainted with the existence of white men, some of the natives had been out in the bay fishing, when they discovered at a distance a large floating object, but were unable to determine what it could be, some supposing it to be a huge animal, others a large house ; however, hastening ashore, they attracted the attention of their friends to it; and these, on viewing the phenomenon, concluded it would be wise to inform the neighbouring chiefs, that they might summon their warriors in case of danger. In answer to this summons, numbers hastened together, and agreed it must be the Mannitto or Supreme Being coming to them in a large canoe; and the result of a deliberation held by the chiefs on York Island, was the resolution that

goes

preparation should be made to receive him with becoming honours. The women prepared the feast, a dance was arranged, and conjurors were set to work to determine who was the visitor, and the

2 “Polar Seas," p. 167. 3 “New York Historical Collections," New Series, v. i., pp. 71-74.

purpose of his coming. While all assembled were swayed between hope and fear, messengers came in, bearing intelligence that it was really the Mannitto, with a number of people, arrived in a manycoloured house, and that they were of a different colour, and differently dressed from the natives; one in particular attracted attention from being dressed entirely in red, and he was therefore supposed to be the great Mannitto himself. They were hailed in an unknown language, on hearing which they were terrified; but for fear of offending the supposed divinities, they remained by the shore.

The house or large canoe stopped, and a smaller canoe, with the great Mannitto, put off for the shore, on reaching which he was received by a council of chiefs; friendly greetings passed between them, but the natives were lost in astonishment at his extraordinary appearance, clothed in red and shining with lace, and still more at his having a white skin. The Mannitto, as they still supposed him to be, had a large hockhack or decanter brought, with a cup, and poured some substance into it which he drank, and refilling it, he handed to the circle of chiefs; all were afraid to touch the liquor, till one spirited brave, fearing to offend the great spirit, jumped up and volunteered to drink

He said it was better for one man to die than for the whole nation to be destroyed by the indignation of the Mannitto, and bidding farewell to the assembly he drank it off, and in short time fell intoxicated, and slept, and they supposing him dead, mourned him accordingly; however, he soon sprang up, declaring he never felt so happy as during his sleep, and drank more, the whole assembly joining him in this, and likewise becoming intoxicated. While this lasted, the strangers had returned to their vessel, and coming back when the Indians had recovered their senses, made various presents, such as beads, axes, hoes, stockings, &c. After this, the whites departed, promising to return next year, bring more presents, and stay awhile, and saying that they would then ask a little land of them to raise herbs in.

it.

Faithful to their promise, they returned in the following year, and mutually rejoiced at meeting; but the Indians state that the whites laughed at them for the ridiculous use they had made of their presents; they had hung the implements of husbandry as ornaments round their necks, and made tobacco pouches of the stockings. The whites showed them the uses of the various presents, and they then joined in the laughter excited by their ignorance. Even more surprised than they had been on the first visit, they took all the white men for inferior Mannittos, still believing the chief stranger to be a superior divinity.

They became very friendly, and the Mannitto asked for land-only as much as could be encompassed by a bullock's hide. The Indians readily granted this, and the hide being brought, the strangers, much to the astonishment of the natives, cut it up into a thin rope, and thus encompassed a large piece of ground, which they were allowed to retain, not without some astonishment on the part of the natives at being thus outwitted. Peace reigned for a long time between the whites and Indians; but the former, from time to time, asked and obtained grants of land higher up the Hudson, till the Indians believed they would in time take possession of the whole of the country; which at last was actually the case. Ere taking leave of the subject, we may give the substance of a foot-note, by the reverend author, respecting the Indian

« AnteriorContinuar »