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but he looked for them in vain, and supposed that, having completed their cargoes, they had gone home, leaving him and his little ship to take care of themselves. “I came to the place,” he says, “ where I left the ships to fishe, but found them not; then, being forsaken and left in this distresse, referring myselfe to the merciful providence of God, shaped my course for England, and, unhoped for of any, God alone relieving me, I arrived at Dartmouth." · Important this last discovery certainly was. To Baffin's Bay, and to that alone, we are indebted for all that is valuable in the prosecution of the recent voyages for the discovery of the north-west passage. It opened out Lancaster Sound, from which to Behring's Strait there is, with little or no doubt, a direct passage through a sea unencumbered with either ice or land. Why this route, pursued only by Parry, and the subsequent deviations from it, have not succeeded, is not difficult to conjecture, nor does the want of success afford any reason for that one route not being repeated; but this is not exactly the place to discuss the question. It ought not, and it must not be left unfinished, if we would avoid the disgrace of suffering another nation to pass through the two doors which we have thrown open; they are but some 300 leagues apart.
Davis, after his return home, wrote a little treatise, which was published eight years after this voyage, called “ The World's Hydrographical De
scription;" of which Admiral Burney says there are not perhaps three copies in existence.* An active and able seaman as he was could not long remain idle; and accordingly we shall find him again with Cavendish, in his second voyage to the Straits of Magelhaens, and after that in the employ of the Dutch, in several voyages to the East Indies, two of which have been published by Purchas; they prove him to have been a man of nice observation, great sagacity, and of sound good sense.t “ He was the first pilot,” says Prince, “ that conducted the Zealander to the East Indies. This great navigator,” he adds,“ made no less than five voyages to the East Indies, and returned home safe again; an instance of a wonderful providence, and an argument that the very same Lord who is the God of the earth is the God of the seas.”I Of the life and parentage of this intrepid navigator very little has been left on record for the benefit of posterity. He married a daughter of Sir John Fulford, of Fulford, in Kent, and Dorothy his wife, daughter of John Lord Bourchier, Earl of Bath. Of the place and manner of his death nothing is known beyond a report that he was killed in a quarrel with the people of a Japanese vessel.
On his return from his last voyage he thus writes to Sanderson : “By God's mercy I am returned in health, with all my company, and have * There is a copy of it in Hakluyt. † Barrow's Arctic Regions. sailed three score leagues farther than I designed at my departure. I have been in 73 degrees, and found the sea all open, with forty leagues between land and land. The passage is most probable, the execution easy, as at our meeting you shall fully know.”* He had entered Baffin's Bay, from whence, through Lancaster Sound, we may say with him, the passage is most probable, and the execution easy, and we have little doubt will be proved practicably ere long with certainty and safety. Davis, in the following letter to Sir F. Walsingham, is strong in this opinion :
| Prince's Worthies of Devon.
“Right Honorable most dutyfully craving pardon for this my rashe boldnes I am herby according to my duty to signyfy vnto your Honor that the North west Passage is a matter nothing doubtfull but at any tyme almost to be passed, the sea navigable, voyd of yse, the ayre tollerable, and the waters very depe. I have also fownd an yle of very grete quantytie not in any globe or map dyscrybed yelding a sufficient trade of furse and lether, and although this passage hathe bine supposed very impossible yeat through God's mercy I am in experience an ey wyttnes to the contrary, yea in the most desperate clymats which by Gods help I wylle very shortly most at large revele unto your Honor so sone as I can possible take order for my maryners and shippinge. Thus depending upon your Honors good favor I most humbly commytt you to God this third of October . “Your Honors for ever most dutyfull
“John Davys.” Í
SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT.
1578 to 1584.
SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT was descended from an ancient and honourable family in Devonshire. His mother, becoming a widow, married Walter Raleigh, Esq., from which marriage was born the celebrated Sir Walter Raleigh, who consequently became half-brother to Sir Humphrey. The latter was educated at Eton, from whence he went to Oxford, where he distinguished himself as a gentleman of very considerable talents in the various branches of literature and science. On leaving Oxford he went over to Ireland, and became President of Munster; and in 1570 received the honour of knighthood. He excelled in mathematics, geography, and hydrography, which were his favourite studies. It was probably his attachment to the last two that induced him, in the year 1578, to make a voyage to Newfoundland; the same year in which Frobisher accomplished his third voyage. On his return with increased reputation, his talents, aided by powerful interest at Court, procured from the Queen letters patent, granting him authority . to undertake north-western discoveries, and to possess such lands as were unsettled by Christian princes, or their subjects. This grant, by the terms of the patent, was made perpetual; but, by a special clause, was to become void, in case possession and occupation were not taken within six years from the date of the patent.
In a former attempt he had succeeded in getting up a small squadron; but the subscribers became discontented, and quarrelled among themselves; thereupon Sir Humphrey and his brother-in-law, Raleigh, with a few friends, hastily put to sea; but a gale of wind coming on, in which one of the ships foundered, the rest were glad to return to port. * He tried to get up a second squadron, but, finding his friends not quite so sanguine as himself, was unable to succeed at that time. However, in the year before the expiration of his patent, namely, in 1583, he had prepared a small squadron, and was soon ready to set sail for the northern parts of America and Newfoundland; and in order to avail himself of the full benefit of his patent, he had sold his estate, to give confidence to the undertakers of the voyage. In the same year, Queen Elizabeth was pleased to grant another patent to his younger brother, Adrian Gilbert, of Sandridge, in the county of Devon, and his associates, conferring on them the privilege of making discoveries