Page images

poses is to take away all imprests--what is now called paying advance. The familiar account which he gives, as he voyages along, of the various subjects of natural history on sea and land is always clear and free from technical description. Of these kinds of subjects one or two, before proceeding on the incidents of the voyage, will show the manner in which they are found interspersed with the nautical details. Take the following as a specimen. Speaking of the sea-fowl in the Strait of Magelhaens, the ducks, he says, had a part of an island to themselves, which was the highest hill upon it :

“ In all the days of my life I have not seen greater art and curiositie in creatures voyd of reason then in the placing and making of their nestes; all the hill being so full of them, that the greatest mathematician of the world would not devise how to place one more then those upon the hill, leaving onely one pathway for a fowle to passe betwixt. The hill was all level as if it had been smoothed by art, the nestes made onely of earth, and seeming to be of the self-same mould. . . . Their nestes are for many yeares, and of one proportion, not one exceeding another in bigness, in height, nor in circumference, and in proportionable distance one from another. In all this hill, nor in any of their nestes, was to be found a blade of grass, a straw, a stick, a feather, a moate, no, nor the filing of any fowle, but all the nestes and passages betwixt them were so smoothe and cleane as if they had beene newly swept and washed.” *

And he adds, in a strain of piety: “ All which are motives to



magnifie the universall Creator, who so wonderfully manifesteth his wisdome, bountie, and providence in all his creatures, and especially for his particular love to ingratefull mankinde, for whose contemplation and service he hath made them all.”

While in the strait, he says, “ Knowing that if once I consented to turne but one foote backe I should overthrow my voyage, and loose my reputation, I resolved rather to loose my life than to give eare to such prejudicial counsell, so we entertained ourselves in necessary works, as making coale to remedie our broken anchors, in which we succeeded, and pieced broken anchors without other art or addition than what my owne invention contrived."

“ Some of our idle time we spent in gathering the barke and fruit of a certaine tree, which we found in all places of the Straites where we found trees. This tree carrieth his fruit in clusters, like a hawthorne, but that it is greene, each berry of the bignesse of a pepper-corne, and every of them containing within foure or five graynes, twyse as bigge as a mustard-seede, which broken, are white within as the good pepper, and bite much like it, but hotter. The barke of this tree hath the savour of all kinde of spices together, most comfortable to the stomache, and held to be better then any spice whatsoever; and for that a learned countryman of ours, Doctor Turner, hath written of it, by the name of Winter's barke, what I have said may suffice. The leafe of this tree is of a whitish greene, and is not unlike to the aspen-leafe.”

* Observations.

This plant was discovered by Captain John Winter, who deserted Drake, and came home from Magelhaens' Strait, and from whom it has its

He found it very serviceable to his crew, who were infected with scurvy, affording an agreeable spice to their meat. It is a common plant in the valleys down to Cape Horn.t Sir R. Hawkins calls the scurvy “the plague of the sea,” and found sour oranges and lemons the most effective in this disease; so that a remedy, for the merit of the supposed discovery of which, a few years ago, there was abundance of


angry contention, was known to this brave commander two hundred and fifty years ago. He affords some excellent observations on the treatment of this destructive disease, and indeed on every subject regarding seamen and those who command them.

* Observations.

+ “ A plant of the Winter's Bark was brought home by Captain King, and flourished in Kew Garden, the only one known in England; and it is somewhat curious that this fine plant sickened and died at the very time that a new plant arrived with Sir James Ross from his antarctic voyage.”- Sir W. Hooker. Sir Joseph Banks was exceedingly anxious to have it propagated in England.

He describes the shark as the most ravenous fish known in the sea, and therefore much hated by sea-faring men. He says, “ They spawne not, as the greatest parte of fishes doe, but whelpe, as the dogge or wolfe; and for many days after that she hath whelped, every night and towards every storme, or any danger, which may threaten them hurt, the damme receiveth her whelps in at her mouth, and preserveth them 'til they be able to shift for themselves. I have seene them goe in and out, being more then a foote and halfe long; and after taking the damme we have found her young ones in her belly. Every day,” he adds, “

my company tooke more or lesse of them, not for that they did eate of them, but to recreate themselves, and in revenge of the injuries they received by them; for they live long and suffer much after they bee taken, before they dye.”*

After this true description of the animal, Sir Richard gives us the particulars of the seamen's revenge:-“ At the tail of one they tyed a great logge of wood; at another an emptie batizia well stopped ; one they yoaked like a hogge; from another they plucked out his eyes, and so, threw them into the sea. In catching two together they bound them tayle to tayle, and so set them a-swimming; another with his belly slit and his bowels hanging out, which his fellowes would have every one a snatch at; with other infinite inventions to

* Observations.

entertayne the time, and to avenge themselves, for that they deprived them of swimming, and fed on their flesh, being dead."*

In speaking of a small worm which endangers a ship if she be not sheathed, he says, “This creature enters no bigger than a small Spanish needle, and by little and little the hole becomes ordinarily greater than a man's finger. The thicker the plank is, the greater he groweth. Yea, I have seen shippes so eaten that the most of their planks under water have been like honeycombes, and especially those betwixt wind and water." This worm he calls arters, but the Spaniards broma; it is no doubt the teredo navalis, which one of our old admirals swore would eat into the fluke of an anchor. Our author persists that nothing will keep them out but sheathing, of which he mentions divers sorts. In Spain and Portugal they use lead, which is not durable; double planks, burnt planks, canvas, pitch mingled with glass, and varnish as in China ; but the invention which he says availeth most is to place certain materials between the plank and the sheathing-an invention which he ascribes to his father, and which is this :

Before the sheathing-board is nayled on, upon the inner side of it they smeere it over with tarre, half a finger thicke of hayre, such as the whitelymers use, and so nayle it on, the nayles not above a spanne distance one from another; the thicker they

* Observations.

« EelmineJätka »