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band which, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, became the advanced guard of English maritime discoverers, and dotted the American shores with the names of our towns, countries, kings and statesmen, not forgetting even worthy aldermen, and less dignified men.
IIudson fully participated in the ardour of his contemporaries for searching into unknown regions ; and his efforts were at first directed to the discovery of a passage to China in a north-east direction-an attempt in which so many have failed in later times. IIudson being unable to force a passage beyond Nova Zembla, returned with little hope of ever reaching the eastern coasts of Asia, by navigating the northern seas. This voyage was undertaken in the year 1608 ; but Hudson had not quite renounced the hope of reaching China by the north-east passage, and yielded in the ensuing year to the entreaties of the Dutch, who were desirous that he should again renew the attempt. The second voyage was a failure, as far as the discovery of a passage to China was concerned ; but not fruitless in other respects, for Hudson being disappointed in the east turned to the west, and crossed over towards the American coast, where he discovered the Bay of New York, and the river since named the Hudson, up which he ascended more than a hundred miles. These fortunate results fixed his attention on the shores of the New World, and hopes of discovering a north-west route to China now shed brightness over the mind of our intrepid sailor. Attempts had already been made to reach the eastern homes of luxury and wealth by sailing across the Atlantic, and searching for some passage through the northern seas to those spots towards which the daring adventurer and avaricious merchant turned many an anxious gaze. Sir Martin Frobisher led the way, and summoned a glorious band to win their laurels on the broad ocean ; he was followed by the hardy Devonian Davis, whose memorial the sailor sees as he rounds the storm-beaten rocks of Greenland, and beats up “ Davis's Straits.” Hudson, Baffin, and a host of England's bravest sons, sought in that track of danger the fame so dear to courageous minds. Their efforts, their daring activity, and equally daring endurance, do not form our present theme : honour has wreathed their names with her brightest laurels, and a Ross, Parry, and Back are inspired by the glorious memories of these ancient ocean leaders. With such glowing and passionate excitement was the heart of Hudson moved, as, on May-day in 1610, he sailed from IIarwich in his brave ship The Discovery. In the bright villages of England, and throughout her merry towns, thousands were that day rejoicing amid the flowery festivities of many maypoles. With such exultation behind him, Hudson might deem his day of departure marked by happy omens, and turned rejoicingly to his heroic task of searching out the untouched pathways of ancient ocean. The name of his bark, “ The Discovery,” sounded something like a prophecy of triumph, and was well suited to suggest thoughts of success amid the highest perils. This vessel, despatched on such a voyage, which might even end in circling the globe, was small La mere boat, in modern eyes, her capacity being but fifty-four tons. Hudson needed no vast array, no giant instrument to work out his ends ; for, truly, he was himself a giant in power, and could therefore do great things with small means.
Three years before he had sailed within the arctic circle, and nearly hailed the strange mysterious pole itself, from which, indeed, he only paused at the distance of ten degrees ; and all this had been accomplished in a small boat, with ten men and a boy. He did not, therefore, fear the distant and unknown regions of the west, but boldly spread his sails to the May-day breeze, encouraging himself and crew with bright anticipations. On they sailed, noting minutely each object which at sunrise or sunset disclosed the beautiful or the awful phenomena of the sea's mystic domain. Few scenes appeared before the crew more truly majestic than the far flashing flames of snow-crowned Hecla, as their fiery gleams fell upon the heaving water of the lonely Northern sea. Like some sea-giant seemed the mountain ; holding aloft through storm and calm his blazing torch, as if warning off all daring intruders from that taboed sea. Hudson still held onward his course, and saw at last the shores of Greenland far over vast fields of ice, upon which the setting sun cast a thousand rainbow tints as it descended on June 4th in the northern point of the heavens. The Discovery now moved past the peaked heights of Greenland, and off Cape Farewell, uttered her “ Vale” to the receding world of civilized man, whilst the view of Cape Desolation suggested to her crew gloomy thoughts of tenantless ships drifting pilotless upon a lonely sea. The currents combined with the breeze to bear the vessel towards the unknown west, and Hudson was soon sailing up the Straits which now bear his name, and form the entrance to Hudson's Bay. Here he tacked to and fro for many days, now fleeing from the rush of icebergs, thundering with strange crashes over the solitary waters, and now sailing in company with vast fields of ice which formed a white, glistening, and impenetrable circle around his ship. Sometimes one of these icy masses heaved over, launching its pinnacled heights into these ocean depths : at another time these tall Cyclopean ramparts offered a welcome shelter to the vessel from the tempest.
Slowly the awful icy sentinels gathered more thickly around the Discovery; the icebergs were forming their ranks ; each day the circle increased in strength, preventing all escape for the ship. By November 10th, all were chained in for the winter ; the sea had ceased to heave its waters, and the sound of the dashing waves had become hushed, for ice bound all in silence, presenting one vast expanse over which the sun cast its feeble lurid light. Now was required the energy of brave hearts, for to cold must be added the privations arising from scarcity of food, which compelled the crew to hunt across the frozen wilds after the fowl which frequented these wintry wastes ; for even here all was not desolation : the Great Author of nature has willed even those frost-created plains to furnish homes for many arctic birds which flit silently through the misty air, and at times supply a starving band with food. The crew in The Discovery had a threefold succession in the nature of the sustenance procured in their wintering-place ; first, during the intense cold numerous white birds were taken, which the men called “white partridges," and ate without the least apprehension of the Greenland game
laws. These birds of frost departed at the close of winter, when swans, geese, and ducks offered a more abundant supply to men upon whom the severity of the frost had acted with fatal effect ; and later still the spring mosses and the buds of trees provided a supply which the starving and frost-bitten sailors gladly welcomed. These provisions were not, however, sufficient to enable the bodies of the crew to resist the action of arctic frost, so that the approach of spring found many lamed, and their limbs useless by that singular power of intense cold which makes it so formidable a destroyer amongst the ranks of retreating armies, or in the rude cabins of arctic navigators. The return of spring therefore found the crew more prepared to depart home than eager for the prosecution of researches in an unknown sea ; for to the vulgar-minded case is always more desired than national honour or personal fame.
But Hudson was still the same hoping man as on that May-day when he left the shores of England, and resolved to return, like another Columbus, amidst the plaudits of his countrymen. The bright crown of honour was kept before him, and he purposed to continue his survey round the shores of the bay into which he had sailed. But the greatest man is but weak when isolated from his fellows: the general abandoned by his army finds the knowledge gained on his grand battlefields all useless ; and the captain deserted by his crew derives little aid from personal courage or long accumulated science. Men whose lives are passed in the study occupied with abstruse thinking, may frame theories, and construct magnificent systems apart from all human cooperation ; and Newton might have calculated his laws of gravitation either in solitude or in the midst of England's crowded capital. But it is different with the man of action ; he requires the able hands and firm hearts of many to give conquering power and living efficacy to plans matured in silence.
Hudson was now to feel the bitterness of losing all he had so ardently struggled to obtain since the sea first received him as a bold adventurer.
The fame of a discoverer had ever seemed to him the most glorious honour capable of being received by the sailor, and justly might he feel thus when he remembered that to open new roads to the old centres of population, or discover new homes of men where maps present only a blank, was to advance the civilization of the whole human family. Man cannot fully know himself until he is made acquainted with the various races of his own widely dispersed kindred, whether these lurk beneath the snow hut in undiscovered lands near the poles, wander over the hidden regions of central Africa, or pass life amid all the luxuries which overspread the bright coral-formed islands of the tropical seas. Το
Irish coast. The survivors at last reached the Downs, when the principals hurried to London, to secure the influence of some persons in authority, that pardon might be procured for the crime which had deprived England of her brave navigator. This pardon was obtained, though by what means it is difficult to say, probably the absence of sufficient evidence prevented the authorities from punishing the mutineers, and the influence of powerful parties exerted to secure their dependents from infamy. We can therefore only contemplate the melancholy end of Hudson as one of those mysterious events which sometimes surround with clouds and darkness the last hours of men, whose memorials are preserved clear and bright in the best memories of a nation.