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Voyages in Search of the North-West Passage By Richard Hakluyt Characters: 5385

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:01

1. It is likely that there should be no through passage by the north-east whereby to go round about the world, because all seas, as aforesaid, are maintained by the abundance of water, waxing more shallow and shelving towards the end, as we find it doth, by experience, in the Frozen Sea, towards the east, which breedeth small hope of any great continuance of that sea to be navigable towards the east, sufficient to sail thereby round about the world.

2. Also, it standeth scarcely with reason that the Indians dwelling under the Torrid Zone could endure the injury of the cold air, about the northern latitude of 80 degrees, under which elevation the passage by the north-east cannot be, as the often experiences had of all the south part of it showeth, seeing that some of the inhabitants of this cold climate, whose summer is to them an extreme winter, have been stricken to death with the cold damps of the air, about 72 degrees, by an accidental mishap, and yet the air in such like elevation is always cold, and too cold for such as the Indians are.

3. Furthermore, the piercing cold of the gross thick air so near the Pole will so stiffen the sails and ship tackling, that no mariner can either hoist or strike them-as our experience, far nearer the south than this passage is presupposed to be, hath taught us-without the use whereof no voyage can be performed.

4. Also, the air is so darkened with continual mists and fogs so near the Pole, that no man can well see either to guide his ship or to direct his course.

5. Also the compass at such elevation doth very suddenly vary, which things must of force have been their destruction, although they had been men of much more skill than the Indians are.

6. Moreover, all bays, gulfs, and rivers do receive their increase upon the flood, sensibly to be discerned on the one side of the shore or the other, as many ways as they be open to any main sea, as the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, Sinus Bodicus, the Thames, and all other known havens or rivers in any part of the world, and each of them opening but on one part to the main sea, do likewise receive their increase upon the flood the same way, and none other, which the Frozen Sea doth, only by the west, as Master Jenkinson affirmed unto me, and therefore it followeth that this north-east sea, receiving increase only from the west, cannot possibly open to the main ocean by the east.

7. Moreover, the farther you pass into any sea towards the end of it, of that part which is shut up from the main sea, as in all those above-mentioned, the less and less the tides rise and fall. The like whereof also happeneth in the Frozen Sea, which pro

veth but small continuance of that sea toward the east.

8. Also, the farther ye go towards the east in the Frozen Sea the less soft the water is, which could not happen if it were open to the salt sea towards the east, as it is to the west only, seeing everything naturally engendereth his like, and then must it be like salt throughout, as all the seas are in such like climate and elevation. And therefore it seemeth that this north-east sea is maintained by the river Ob, and such like freshets as the Pontic Sea and Mediterranean Sea, in the uppermost parts thereof by the river Nile, the Danube, Dnieper, Tanais, etc.

9. Furthermore, if there were any such sea at that elevation, of like it should be always frozen throughout-there being no tides to hinder it-because the extreme coldness of the air in the uppermost part, and the extreme coldness of the earth in the bottom, the sea there being but of small depth, whereby the one accidental coldness doth meet with the other; and the sun, not having his reflection so near the Pole, but at very blunt angles, it can never be dissolved after it is frozen, notwithstanding the great length of their day: for that the sun hath no heat at all in his light or beams, but proceeding only by an accidental reflection which there wanteth in effect.

10. And yet if the sun were of sufficient force in that elevation to prevail against this ice, yet must it be broken before it can be dissolved, which cannot be but through the long continue of the sun above their horizon, and by that time the summer would be so far spent, and so great darkness and cold ensue, that no man could be able to endure so cold, dark, and discomfortable a navigation, if it were possible for him then and there to live.

11. Further, the ice being once broken, it must of force so drive with the winds and tides that no ship can sail in those seas, seeing our fishers of Iceland and Newfoundland are subject to danger through the great islands of ice which fleet in the seas, far to the south of that presupposed passage.

12. And it cannot be that this North-East Passage should be any nearer the south than before recited, for then it should cut off Ciremissi and Turbi, Tartarii, with Vzesucani, Chisani, and others from the continent of Asia, which are known to be adjoining to Scythia, Tartary, etc., with the other part of the same continent.

And if there were any through passage by the north-east, yet were it to small end and purpose for our traffic, because no ship of great burden can navigate in so shallow a sea, and ships of small burden are very unfit and unprofitable, especially towards the blustering north, to perform such a voyage.

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