Page images
PDF
EPUB

of a passage to China and the Molucca Islands, either by the north-west, north-east, or the north. This association was incorporated by the name of “ The Colleagues of the Fellowship for the Discoverie of the North-West Passage.”

Sir Humphrey, as before mentioned, was the author of a long discourse, which broached many ingenious remarks at a time when all was conjecture; and these were of a nature generally to fall in with the received opinions among mercantile men, who had speculated on the feasibility of a north-west passage round the northern parts of North America, which gave his name considerable influence. His mind, however, was now turned towards the colonization of Newfoundland, and he made preparations accordingly. The squadron of Sir Humphrey consisted of five ships, the largest of 200 and the smallest of 10 tons, namely, the Delight, Sir Humphrey, General; the Raleigh, Captain Butler, ViceAdmiral; the Golden Hind, Captain Hayes; the Swallow, Captain Brown; the Squirrel, of 10 tons, William Andrews, Captain. In these ships were embarked about 260 men, including shipwrights, smiths, masons, and carpenters, besides mineralogists and refiners; and, says Mr. Hayes, the writer of the expedition, “ for the solace of our people, and allurement of the savages, we were provided with musicke of good varietie; not omitting the least toyes, as morris-dancers, hobby-horses, and

m

many like conceits to delight the savage people, whom we intended to winne by all faire meanes possible.”*

The fleet left Plymouth the 11th of June, 1583, and on the 13th the Raleigh, of all the ships in the feet, under pretence of illness of her captain, and many of the crew, deserted the rest and returned to Plymouth, where it was conjectured to have been done with some evil design. The rest pursued their voyage, and ere long found mountains of ice in lat. 60° N., driving about on the sea, and on the 3rd of July fell in with the land. It is mentioned that, on entering the harbour of St. John, in Newfoundland, the General and his people were entertained with great profusion by some English merchants, at a place called the Garden, where “ nothing appeared but nature without art;" such as roses and raspberries growing wild in every place. It is not a little curious that at this early period not only English merchants, but, as the writer observes, “the Portugals and French chiefly have a notable trade of fishing on the Newfoundland bank, where there are sometimes more than a hundred sail of ships.”+

The General caused formal possession to be taken, in the Queen's name in presence of the English and foreigners assembled), of the harbour and two hundred leagues on every side of it, and

* Hakluyt, from Hayes' account. + Hakluyt.

ers

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

three distinct laws were then and there made and promulgated. “1. For the public exercise of religion, according to the Church of England. 2. For maintaining her Majesty's right and possession, against which any party offending, to be adjudged and executed as in the case of high treason. 3. For preventing the utterance of words to the dishonour of her Majesty, the party so offending to lose his ears, and his ship and goods to be confiscated.” Parcels of land were then granted out; but the General, it is said, “was most curious in the search of metals, commanding the mineral man, and the refiner especially, to be diligent; this man was a Saxon, honest and religious, and his name was Daniel.”* He brought to the General what he called silver ore; but he would not have it tried or spoken of till they got to sea.

Sir Humphrey now embarked " in his little frigate, the Squirrel,"—the miserable bark of ten tons; and he gave the preference to her, as being the most useful in going into creeks and rivers for the purpose of making discoveries. Proceeding to the southward in company of the Delight, Captain Brown, and the Golden Hinde, Captain Hayes, the former, with all the valuables on board, was wrecked on the flats and sands near Sable Island, when twelve, out of about a hundred souls, perished, among whom were the Saxon refiner, and one Stephanus Parmenius, a learned Hungarian, who was

* Hayes.

asi

engaged to record “in the Latine tongue, the gests and things worthy of remembrance.” The loss of the miner and the ore is said to have preyed on Sir Humphrey's mind, more especially as, on the strength of his mine, he had reckoned on borrowing 10,0001. from the Queen, for his next voyage.

But, alas! for the uncertainty of all human projects, Sir Humphrey having escaped in his little Squirrel determined, in company of the Golden Hinde, to proceed to England. His little frigate, as he called her, was represented to him as wholly unfit for the voyage, and he was entreated to take his passage in the Golden Hinde; but this brave and noble-minded man replied, “I will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I have passed so many stormes and perils.” Having reached the Azores, a violent storm arose, and the little frigate was observed to be nearly overwhelmed by the huge waves. The Hinde kept as close to her as she possibly could, and from her the General was seen, sitting abaft, with a book in his hand; and Mr. Hayes says, was heard to call out, “ Courage, my lads! we are as near to heaven by sea as by land.” The same night the little Squirrel and all within her were swallowed up by the sea, and nothing more was ever heard of her, or of her unfortunate commander and crew.

Thus perished this brave and noble adventurer. His historian asserts, that the reason of his determination to continue in a bark so utterly unfit to

[ocr errors]

C

contend with the sea, on a long voyage, was mainly owing to some malicious report that had reached his ears, of his being afraid of the sea; but this is too absurd to deserve any credit;—to suppose that a man of his undaunted courage and strength of mind could be influenced or affected by any such idle report; or that, as has also been insinuated, the motto on his arms might, in that chivalrous age, have operated on his mind-Mutare vel timére sperno; or, as Prince * makes it, Mallem mori quam mutare.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert may justly be called the “ Father of Northern and North - Western Colonization.” Prince describes him as “an excellent hydrographer, and no less skilful mathematician, of an high and daring spirit, though not equally favoured of fortune; yet the large volume of his virtues may be read in his noble enterprises; the great design whereof was to discover the remote countries of America, and to bring off those salvages froin their diabolical superstitions to the embracing the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Christ; for which his zeal deserves an eternal remembrance.”+ “As to the person of this wise and brave man, it was such as recommended him to esteem and veneration at first sight; his stature was beyond the ordinary size, his complexion sanguine, and his constitution very robust.” I * Worthies of Devon. ' f Ibid. | Biog. Brit.

« EelmineJätka »