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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 sayling 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,
5 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 ytterly 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
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 at. 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
come those thicke mists and most stinking fogges, which increase so much the more, by how much higher the pole is raised: wherein a blind pilot is as good as the best director of
For the Sunne striuing to performe his naturall office, in eleuating the vapors out of these inferior bodies, draweth necessarily abundance of moisture out of the sea; but the nipping cold (from the former causes) meeting and opposing the sunnes indeuour, forces him to giue ouer his worke imperfect; and instead of higher eleuation, to leaue in the lowest region, wandring vpon the face of the earth and waters as it were a second sea, through which its owne beames cannot possibly pierce, vnlesse sometimes when the sudden violence of the winds doth helpe to scatter and breake through it; which thing happeneth very seldome, and when it happeneth is of no continuance. Some of our mariners in this voyage had formerely beene at Wardhouse, in 72 deg. of North latitude, who yet affirmed that they felt no such nipping cold there in the end of the summer, when they departed thence, as they did here in those hottest moneths of June and July.
And also from these reasons we coniecture, that either there is no passage at all through these Northerne coasts (which is most likely), or if there be, that yet it is vnnauigable. Adde hereunto, that though we searched the coast diligently, euen vnto the 48 deg., yet found we not the land to trend so much as one point in any place towards the East, but rather running on continually North-west, as if it went directly to meet with Asia; and euen in that height, when we had a franke winde to haue carried vs through, had there beene a passage, yet we had a smoothe and calme sea, with ordinary flowing and reflowing, which could not haue beene had there beene a frete; of which we rather infallibly concluded, then coniectured, that there was none. But to returne.
The next day, after our comming to anchor in the aforesaid) harbour, the people of the countrey shewed themselues, send ing off a man with great expedition to vs in a canow. Who being yet but a little from the shoare, and a great way from our ship, spake to vs continually as he came rowing on. And at last at a reasonable distance staying himselfe, he began more solemnely a long and tedious oration, after his manner: vsing in the deliuerie thereof many gestures and signes, mouing his hands, turning his head and body many wayes; and after his oration ended, with great shew of reuerence and submission