Page images

by Dr. Moses Harvey, of Newfoundland, Elizabeth Hodges, of Bristol, Justin Winsor, and others.

In the passage from Harrisse's book, reprinted in the preceding pages, the first class of data for the first voyage of John Cabot is said to comprise three documents,- the letter of Pasqualigo and the two despatches of Soncino. These are given in the present leaflet, together with the extracts from the despatches of Puebla, the Spanish ambassador in London, and Ayala, his adjunct in the embassy, both written in July, 1498, just after the second expedition had sailed, and the latter containing an express reference to the expedition of the year before. Old South Leaflet No. 37 contains the various documents relating to the voyages of the Cabots which were gathered by Hakluyt and published in his "Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation," in 1589.

In the year 1897, the fourth centennial of Cabot's discovery was observed by the dedication at Bristol of a great memorial tower; and the accounts of this Bristol observance should be consulted. There was an important commemoration by the Royal Society of Canada at Halifax, a full account of which, together with valuable papers upon Cabot by S. E. Dawson and others, may be found in the Proceedings of the Society for 1897. The quadricentennial was also observed by the Maine Historical Society at Brunswick, and in the society's collections for 1897 are published five scholarly papers there presented: "John Cabot and his Discoveries," by James Phinney Baxter; "The Landfall of Cabot and the Extent of his Discoveries," by Professor William Macdonald; "The Dawn of Western_Discovery," by Professor J. W. Black; "The Cartography of the Period," by Rev. Henry S. Burrage; and "The Value and Significance of Cabot's Discovery to the World," by Professor John S. Sewall. Rev. E. G. Porter's article on "The Cabot Celebrations of 1897," in the New England Magazine for February, 1898, is a comprehensive summary, and contains valuable illustrations.



Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.



[ocr errors]

Old South Leaflets.

No. 116.

Sir Francis Drake

on the California



From Guatulco we departed the day following, viz., Aprill 16, [1579] setting our course directly into the sea, whereon we sayled 500 leagues in longitude, to get a winde: and betweene that and June 3, 1400 leagues in all, till we came into 42 deg. of North latitude, where in the night following we found such alteration of heate, into extreame and nipping cold, that our men in generall did grieuously complaine thereof, some of them feeling their healths much impaired thereby; neither was it that this chanced in the night alone, but the day following carried with it not onely the markes, but the stings and force of the night going before, to the great admiration of vs all; for besides that the pinching and biting aire was nothing altered, the very roapes of our ship were stiffe, and the raine which fell was an vnnatural congealed and frozen substance, so that we seemed rather to be in the frozen Zone then any way so neere vnto the sun, or these hotter climates.

Neither did this happen for the time onely, or by some sudden accident, but rather seemes indeed to proceed from some ordinary cause, against the which the heate of the sun preuailes not; for it came to that extremity in saylin but 2 deg. farther to the Northward in our course, that though sea-men lack not good stomaches, yet it seemed a question to many amongst vs, whether their hands should feed their mouthes, or rather keepe themselues within their couerts from the pinching cold that did benumme them. Neither could we impute it to the tendernesse of our bodies, though we came lately from the extremitie of

heate, by reason whereof we might be more sensible of the present cold: insomuch as the dead and sencelesse creatures were as well affected with it as ourselues: our meate, as soone as it was remooued from the fire, would presently in a manner be frozen vp, and our ropes and tackling in few dayes were growne to that stiffnesse, that what 3 men afore were able with them to performe, now 6 men, with their best strength and vttermost endeauour, were hardly able to accomplish: whereby a sudden and great discouragement seased vpon the mindes of our men, and they were possessed with a great mislike and doubting of any good to be done that way; yet would not our General be discouraged, but as wel by comfortable speeches, of the diuine prouidence, and of God's louing care ouer his children, out of the Scriptures, as also by other good and profitable perswasions, adding thereto his own cheerfull example, he so stirred them vp to put on a good courage, and to quite themselues like men, to indure some short extremity to haue the speedier comfort, and a little trouble to obtaine the greater glory, that eury man was throughly armed with willingnesse and resolued to see the uttermost, if it were possible, of what good was to be done that way.

The land in that part of America, bearing farther out into the West then we before imagined, we were neerer on it than wee were aware; and yet the neerer still wee came vnto it, the more extremitie of cold did sease vpon vs. The 5 day of June, wee were forced by contrary windes to runne in with the shoare, which we then first descried, and to cast anchor in a bad bay, the best roade we could for the present meete with, where wee were not without some danger by reason of the many extreme gusts and flawes that beate vpon vs, which if they ceased and were still at any time, immediately upon their intermission there followed most uile, thicke, and stinking fogges, against which the sea preuailed nothing, till the gusts of wind againe remoued them, which brought with them such extremity and violence when they came, that there was no dealing or resisting against them.

In this place was no abiding for vs; and to go further North, the extremity of the cold (which had now vtterly discouraged our men) would not permit vs; and the winds directly bent against vs, hauing once gotten vs vnder sayle againe, commanded vs to the Southward whether we would or no.

From the height of 48 deg., in which now we were, to 38,

we found the land, by coasting alongst it, to bee but low and reasonable plaine; euery hill (whereof we saw many, but none verie high), though it were in June, and the sunne in his neerest approch vnto them, being couered with snow.

In 38 deg. 30 min. we fell with a conuenient and fit harborough, and June 17 came to anchor therein, where we continued till the 23 day of July following. During all which time, notwithstanding it was in the height of summer, and so neere the sunne, yet were wee continually visited with like nipping colds as we had felt before; insomuch that if violent exercises of our bodies, and busie employment about our necessarie labours, had not sometimes compeld us to the contrary, we could very well haue been contented to haue kept about us still our winter clothes; yea (had our necessities suffered vs) to haue kept our beds; neither could we at any time, in whole fourteene dayes together, find the aire so cleare as to be able to take the height of sunne or starre.

And here, hauing so fit occasion (notwithstanding it may seeme to be besides the purpose of writing the history of this our voyage), we will a little more diligently inquire into the causes of the continuance of the extreame cold in these parts, as also into the probabilities or vnlikelihoods of a passage to be found that way. Neither was it (as hath formerly beene touched) the tendernesse of our bodies, comming so lately out of the heate, whereby the poores were opened, that made vs so sensible of the colds we here felt: in this respect, as in many others, we found our God a prouident Father and carefull Physitian for vs. We lacked no outward helpes nor inward comforts to restore and fortifie nature, had it beene decayed or weakened in vs; neither was there wanting to vs the great experience of our Generall, who had often himselfe proued the force of the burning Zone, whose aduice alwayes preuailed much to the preseruing of a moderate temper in our constitutions; so that euen after our departure from the heate wee alwayes found our bodies, not as sponges, but strong and hardned, more able to beare out cold, though we came out of excesse of heate, then a number of chamber champions could haue beene, who lye on their feather beds till they go to sea, or rather, whose teeth in a temperate aire do beate in their heads at a cup of cold sack and sugar by the fire.

And that it was not our tendernes, but the very extremitie of the cold itselfe that caused this sensiblenes in vs, may the

rather appeare, in that the naturall inhabitants of the place (with whom we had for a long season familiar intercourse, as is to be related), who had neuer beene acquainted with such heate, to whom the countrey, ayre, and climate was proper, and in whom custome of cold was as it were a second nature; yet vsed to come shiuering to vs in their warme furres, crowding close together, body to body, to receiue heate one of another, and sheltring themselues vnder a lee bancke, if it were possible, and as often as they could labouring to shroude themselues vnder our garments also to keepe them warme. Besides, how vnhandsome and deformed appeared the face of the earth it selfe! shewing trees without leaues, and the ground without greennes in those moneths of June and July. The poore birds and foules not daring (as we had great experience to obserue it), not daring so much as once to arise from their nests after the first egge layed, till it, with all the rest, be hatched and brought to some strength of nature, able to helpe itselfe. Onely this recompence hath nature affoorded them, that the heate of their owne bodies being exceeding great, it perfecteth the creature with greater expedition, and in shorter time then is to be found in many places.


As for the causes of this extremity, they seeme not to be so deeply hidden but that they may, at least in part, be guessed The chiefest of which we conceiue to be the large spreading of the Asian and American continent, which (somewhat Northward of these parts), if they be not fully ioyned, yet seeme they to come very neere one to the other. From whose high and snow-couered mountaines, the North and North-west winds (the constant visitants of those coasts) send abroad their frozen nimphes, to the infecting the whole aire with this insufferable sharpnesse: not permitting the Sunne, no, not in the pride of his heate, to dissolve that congealed matter and snow, which they haue breathed out so nigh the Sunne, and so many degrees distant from themselues. And that the North and North-west winds are here constant in June and July, as the North wind alone is in August and September, we not onely found it by our owne experience, but were fully confirmed in the opinion thereof, by the continued obseruations of the Spaniards. Hence comes the generall squalidnesse and barrennesse of the countrie; hence comes it, that in the middest of their summer, the snow hardly departeth euen from their very doores, but is neuer taken away from their hils at all; hence

« PreviousContinue »