Page images
PDF
EPUB

western shore, and then up the eastern shore, as far as that of Baffin's Bay. The islands that blocked up the strait to the southward were those among which Frobisher was looking for gold ore; but all this portion, that lies between Hudson's Strait and the western shore of Cumberland Island, is, to this day, undetermined and laid down much at random.

IS

Y
vas

SECOND VOYAGE, 1586. Davis was nothing disheartened by the failure of discovering the sought-for passage; and the merchants of Exeter and other parts of the west, together with Sir Francis Walsingham, all of them still sanguine as to the existence of such a passage, readily came forward and contributed a large vessel of 120 tons, called the Mermaid, to accompany the little squadron of Davis, which now consisted of the ship just mentioned, together with the Sunshine, the Moonshine, and a pinnace of ten tons, called the North Star.* On the 7th of May, 1586, Davis sailed from Dartmouth; and on the 15th of June made Cape Farewell, from whence he proceeded, as before, along the western coast of Greenland, in several parts of which he had much intercourse with the natives, coming off sometimes in groups of canoes, amounting to a hundred, forty, fifty at a time, more or less,“ bringing with them seal-skins,

* Hakluyt.

white hares, samon peall, smal cod, dry caplin, with other fish, and such birds as the country did yield.” 'The natives are described as being “ of good stature and in body proportioned, with small slender hands and feet, with broad visages and small eyes, wide mouths, the most part unbearded, great lips, and close-toothed.” They were accounted idolaters, because they wore images; they were said to be witches, practising many kinds of enchantments; strong and nimble, fond of leaping and wrestling, in which, to the great surprise of the Devonshire men, they beat the best of the crew, though they were west country wrestlers.

Proceeding northerly, our adventurers were suddenly alarmed at the appearance of “a most mightie and most strange quantity of ice in one entire masse, so bigge as that we knew not the limits thereof,” and “so incredible to be reported in trueth," that the writer declines speaking more of it, lest he should not be believed. In coasting along this ice the cold was so extreme, that the

shrouds, ropes, and sails were frozen, and the air · was loaded with fog. This strange weather caused

the men to grow sick and feeble, and to be so much disheartened as to wish to return, and advised Captain Davis not to persevere, and give occasion to their widows and fatherless children to bestow on him their bitter curses. As these complaints came from the Exeter ship, the Mermaid, he left her where she was, to return homewards, while he

alone, in the Moonshine, proceeded round the ice, and found the land in lat. 66° 33', long. 70°,* “ voyd of trouble, without snow or ice.” Here it consisted of a group of islands—no doubt the whale islands to the southward of Disco, a portion of Greenland long settled by the Danes.

Here the temperature was so much changed as to be found very hot, and they were much troubled with a fly, “which is called muskyto, for they did sting grievously.” Leaving this coast, Davis made the land on the opposite side in lat. 66° 17'. Hence they continued southerly, and on the 28th of August fell in with a fair harbour in lat. 56°, and sailed ten leagues into the same, “ with fine woods on both sides.” This was on the west coast of Labradore, and is that named on the charts “ Davis's Inlet.” The weather now setting in stormy and tempestuous, they weighed anchor, and arrived in England in the beginning of October.

It may be remarked that, in all this latter part of his track, which laid the foundation of all, that has since been discovered, of the north-west passage down to the present time, Davis was entirely alone in his little bark, the Moonshine, the Mermaid having gone home, and, as should have been stated, he had, on his arrival off Cape Farewell, ordered the Sunshine and the North Star to search for a passage to the northward along the east coast of Greenland, and between it and Iceland, along which they proceeded as far as the lat. 80°.* These little vessels on the 12th of June put into Iceland, and remained there a few days, then proceeded northerly till the 3rd of July, when getting between two islands of fixed ice, they were but too glad to escape; and coasting Greenland southerly along the ice some three leagues from the shore, they arrived on the 17th at the Land of Desolation, crossed over to Gilbert's Sound, the appointed rendezvous, where they remained till the 31st, and hearing nothing of their admiral, departed for England, where the Sunshine arrived on the 5th of October: having separated from the North Star in a violent storm, this little ship was never more heard of.

* The longitude of 70° would place him in the very midst of the unknown land of Cumberland, and must therefore be an error.

THIRD VOYAGE, 1587. The adventurers, concerned in the last two voyages, had no reason to be satisfied, in regard to any profitable returns being made; but as the intrepid Davis was still sanguine as to the existence of a passage and the ultimate discovery of it, and his patron, Mr. W. Sanderson, equally sanguine, the means of making a third voyage were speedily set on foot; and that the merchant adventurers might not remain without the hope of some return on a new attempt, it was decided that, of the three ships now proposed

* If this be so, the Sunshine and North Star advanced full 5° to the northward, higher than any other ship, before or since.

to be fitted out, two of them should be appropriated to the fishery, and one pinnace only for the discovery. The ships were the Elizabeth of Dartmouth, the Sunshine of London, and the clincher. Helena. The first object of Davis appears to have been that of following up the discovery of the wide strait he had entered the last voyage; and to effect this he took the Helena alone, and ascended the west coast of Greenland, named by him the London Coast, till he reached lat. 72° 12', finding the sea all open to the westward and to the northward. He now left that part of the coast, which he called “Hope Sanderson,” and stood back to the southward and westward. Davis then ascended the southern strait he had discovered on the first voyage, proceeded up it sixty leagues, and fell in with groups of islands, which he named Cumberland Islands; passing to the south-east, he opened out Frobisher's Strait, which he named Lumley's Inlet, sailed past Warwick's Foreland, and crossed another large inlet, to the southern cape of which he gave the name of Chidley. This inlet is that which bears the modern name of Hudson on our charts, but which is, in fact, a discovery of Davis. Baffin's Bay, long afterwards traversed by Baffin and Bylot, was also entered by Davis, and the discovery of it is justly his due.

He had placed the two ships, appropriated to the fishery, about the southern entrance of his strait, which were by agreement to wait his return;

« EelmineJätka »