East Indies: May 1565

Pages 4-5

Calendar of State Papers Colonial, East Indies, China and Japan, Volume 2, 1513-1616. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.

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May 1565

May 30.
9. Anthony Jenckynson to the Queen. Thinks it his bounden duty to make manifest how her Grace may highly, advance her fame, and increase her dominions and riches, by an enterprise to discover certain regions and islands by the North Seas. Discovery of the Indies and seas occidental by Spain. The best yet undiscovered, the famous [country] of Cathay and infinite islands near where are gold, siver, precious stones, and other treasures. Commodities to be had from the Tropics to both the Poles, and from the Equinox to both the Tropics, all of which might be found if “this region of Cathay might be discovered, and passage found thither by the North.” Advantages by the great vent of all kinds of English manufactured woollen commodities in those cold countries between the imagined Streights “(of no doubt to be found)” and the land of Cathay. The navigation would be shorter by the north than that of the Portugals by the south. Speculations of cosmographers on the dangers of the navigation of the northerly seas through the extremity of the cold. As some have affirmed parts of the southward to be uninhabitable and unnavigable, through extremity of heat, so he makes no doubt, from his experience in those northerly regions, “but that they are also deceived in this.” The seas and lands as temperate, when the sun is in the north tropic, as here. Continual day for ten weeks where he has travelled, and “so the nearer the pole the longer day.” The travels of the Portugals and Spaniards upon unknown coasts should encourage us to travel and search for this passage. Opinions touching the passage by the north–west. Does not wholly dissent from them, but has no doubt of a passage to be found by the northeast. Has conferred with divers “Cathayens,” and the inhabitants of other countries very far north, near whereunto he guesses the passage to be. The people fish along those coasts for the morse for their teeth. Has gathered from them, that beyond the land and coast trench and tend to the east and to the southward, and that the currents and tides run east-south-east and west-north-west very vehemently, “which manifestly argueth a passage.” When last year in Muscovy “a certen strainge hed, with a home therein,” was presented to the Emperor by some of the inhabitants of the foresaid countries, which they had found in the island of Vagattes, not far from the river Obbe. It was found to be the head of a unicorn, and is held in no small price and estimation by that Prince. Knowing that unicorns are bred in the lands of Cathay, China, and other oriental regions he “fell into consideration that the said head was brought thither by the course of the sea.” Other reasons to be alleged in proof of the passage, but fears to be tedious. Urges the Queen “to set forward this famous discovery of that renowned Cathay.” Doubts not that by the traffic Her Majesty will grow to infinite riches, and be accounted “the famous Princess of the world” Wishes to be employed in the enterprise, and “to venture my life as fervent zeal moveth me, which, if I may live to accomplish, I shall attain to the ‘some’ of my desire.” [Three pages. Domestic, Eliz., Vol. XXXVI., No. 60 Cal., p. 253. These “reasons alleged for the proving of a passage by the north east, ly Master Anthony Jenkynson” were answered by Sir Humphrey Gylberte, in Cap. 8 of his Discourse, “to prove a passage by the north–west to Cathay and the East Indies.” See Hakluyt, III, pp. 42, 43. Jenckynson's several voyages are also printed in Hakluyt, III., p. 346, et seq.]