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Voyages in Search of the North-West Passage By Richard Hakluyt Characters: 6128

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:01

It is as likely that they came by the north-west as it is unlikely that they should come either by the south-east, south-west, north-east, or from any other part of Africa or America, and therefore this North-West Passage, having been already so many ways proved by disproving of the others, etc., I shall the less need in this place to use many words otherwise than to conclude in this sort, that they came only by the north-west from England, having these many reasons to lead me thereunto.

1. First, the one-half of the winds of the compass might bring them by the north-west, veering always between two sheets, with which kind of sailing the Indians are only acquainted, not having any use of a bow line or quarter wind, without the which no ship can possibly come, either by the south-east, south-west, or north-east, having so many sundry capes to double, whereunto are required such change and shifts of winds.

2. And it seemeth likely that they should come by the north-west, because the coast whereon they were driven lay east from this our passage, and all winds do naturally drive a ship to an opposite point from whence it bloweth, not being otherwise guided by art, which the Indians do utterly want, and therefore it seemeth that they came directly through this, our strait, which they might do with one wind.

3. For if they had come by the Cape of Good Hope, then must they, as aforesaid, have fallen upon the south parts of America.

4. And if by the Strait of Magellan, then upon the coasts of Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Ireland, or England.

5. And if by the north-east, then upon the coasts of Ciremissi, Tartarii, Lapland, Iceland, Labrador, etc., and upon these coasts, as aforesaid, they have never been found.

So that by all likelihood they could never have come without shipwreck upon the coasts of Germany, if they had first struck upon the coasts of so many countries, wanting both art and shipping to make orderly discovery, and altogether ignorant both of the art of navigation and also of the rocks, flats, sands, or havens of those parts of the world, which in most of these places are plentiful.

6. And further, it seemeth very likely that the inhabitants of the most part of those countries, by which they must have come any other way besides by the north-west, being for the most part anthropophagi, or men-eaters, would have devoured them, slain them, or, at the leastwise, kept them as wonders for the gaze.

So that it plainly appeareth that those Indians-which, as you have heard, in sundry ages were driven by tempest upon the shore of Germany-came only through our North-West Passage.

7. Moreover, the passage is certainly proved by a navigation that a Portuguese made, who passed through this strait, giving name to a promontory far within the same, calling it after his own name, Promontorium Corterialis, near adjoining unto Polisacus Fluvius.

8. Also one Scolmus, a Dane, entered and passed a great part thereof.

9. Also there was one Salva Terra, a gentleman of Victoria in Spain, tha

t came by chance out of the West Indies into Ireland, Anno 1568, who affirmed the North-West Passage from us to Cathay, constantly to be believed in America navigable; and further said, in the presence of Sir Henry Sidney, then Lord Deputy of Ireland, in my hearing, that a friar of Mexico, called Andre Urdaneta, more than eight years before his then coming into Ireland, told him there that he came from Mare del Sur into Germany through this North-West Passage, and showed Salva Terra-at that time being then with him in Mexico-a sea-card made by his own experience and travel in that voyage, wherein was plainly set down and described this North-West Passage, agreeing in all points with Ortelius' map.

And further this friar told the King of Portugal (as he returned by that country homeward) that there was of certainty such a passage north-west from England, and that he meant to publish the same; which done, the king most earnestly desired him not in any wise to disclose or make the passage known to any nation. For that (said the king) if England had knowledge and experience thereof, it would greatly hinder both the King of Spain and me. This friar (as Salva Terra reported) was the greatest discoverer by sea that hath been in our age. Also Salva Terra, being persuaded of this passage by the friar Urdaneta, and by the common opinion of the Spaniards inhabiting America, offered most willingly to accompany me in this discovery, which of like he would not have done if he had stood in doubt thereof.

And now, as these modern experiences cannot be impugned, so, least it might be objected that these things (gathered out of ancient writers, which wrote so many years past) might serve little to prove this passage by the north of America, because both America and India were to them then utterly unknown; to remove this doubt, let this suffice, that Aristotle (who was 300 years before Christ) named the Indian Sea. Also Berosus (who lived 330 before Christ) hath these words, Ganges in India.

Also in the first chapter of Esther be these words: "In the days of Ahasuerus, which ruled from India to Ethiopia," which Ahasuerus lived 580 years before Christ. Also Quintus Curtius, where he speaketh of the Conquest of Alexander, mentioneth India. Also Arianus Philostratus, and Sidrach, in his discourses of the wars of the King of Bactria, and of Garaab, who had the most part of India under his government. All which assumeth us that both India and Indians were known in those days.

These things considered, we may, in my opinion, not only assure ourselves of this passage by the north-west, but also that it is navigable both to come and go, as hath been proved in part and in all by the experience of divers as Sebastian Cabot, Corterialis, the three brethren above named, the Indians, and Urdaneta, the friar of Mexico, etc.

And yet, notwithstanding all which, there be some that have a better hope of this passage to Cathay by the north-east than by the west, whose reasons, with my several answers, ensue in the chapter following.

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