East Indies: December 1586

Page 94

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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December 1586

1586? 237. Heads of the chapters contained in the book of Sir Walter Raleigh's voyage to the West Indies. In the 17th it is argued, that by these colonies [proposed to be planted] the North-west passage to Cathay and China may be easily, quickly, and perfectly searched out as well by river and overland as by sea, and proofs are quoted from testimonies out of the three volumes of voyages gathered by Ramusius and other great authors. [Sixteen pages, supposed to be in the handwriting of Lancaster, the celebrated navigator. DOMESTIC, Eliz., Vol. CXCV., undated.]
238. Arguments in favour of a passage from the North Sea into the South Sea. Quotations from Scripture to show that Solomon sent every three years a fleet from the Red Sea to Malacca, China, and those parts of the East Indies, for gold, silver, precious stones, elephants' teeth, &c. That about 90 years past the Kings of Spain found great plenty of gold, silver, and many rich merchandise, by sailing to the West Indies. That there is a large passage to the North-west at 66° from the North Sea into the South Sea, between Labrador and Greenland, more than 2° or 120 miles broad; it may be sailed from England in the summer time in 30 days or less, and with less danger of cold or ice four months in the year than from England to the North-east parts in 72°, the passage to Moscovia which is sailed yearly by English ships. The North-west passage sought for by divers English mariners; by Sebastian Cabot, who did not sail above 52°; by Martin Frobisher of late years, who sailed to 62° and then laded his ship with a kind of supposed treasure; “but the passage lieth at 66° or 67° north, and there it is to be found and not shorter.” Cortesrealis sailed from the South into the North Sea at 66°, and on his return to Portugal was imprisoned for life for making known that passage. Names of the islands lying in the South Sea. Proposition that two good ships and mariners, that trade from Iceland for fish yearly in the summer time, be appointed to search for the passage; not more than 500l. necessary to make it well known. Letters from Ph. Jon, “a skilful merchant of good calling,” one dated 12th Dec. 1586, containing “declarations of the said passage more at large.” Comparative distance of the passage, by the Straits of Magellan 9,840 miles, by the North-west to Cathay or China 3,880 miles, “and no manner of danger of any foreign princes or pirate.” [Five pages. Brit. Mus., Harleian, 167, fols. 100–108, see ante, No. 21.]