A True Reportory

William Strachey

 

 

I.

 

A most dreadful tempest, the manifold deaths whereof are here to the life described ‑ Their wrack on Bermuda, and the description of those islands.

 

 

EXCELLENT LADY‑-

 

KNOW THAT upon Friday late in the evening [1 June 1609], we brake ground out of the sound of Plymouth, our whole fleet then consisting of seven good ships and two pinnaces, all which from the said second of June unto the twenty‑three of July kept in friendly consort together, not a whole watch at any time losing the sight each of other. Our course when we came about the height of between 26 and 27 degrees we declined to the northward, and according to our governor's instruc­tions altered the trade and ordinary way used heretofore by Do­minico and Mevis (Nevis) in the West Indies, and found the wind to this course indeed as friendly as, in the judgment of all seamen, it is upon a more direct line, and by Sir George Summers, our admiral, had been likewise in former time sailed‑being a gentleman of ap­proved assuredness and ready knowledge in seafaring actions, hav­ing often carried command and chief charge in many ships royal of Her Majesty's, and in sundry voyages made many defeats and attempts in the time of the Spaniard's quarreling with us upon the islands and Indies, etc.

 

We had followed this course so long as now we were within seven or eight days at the most, by Captain Newport's reckoning, of mak­ing Cape Henry upon the coast of Virginia, when on Saint James his day, July 24, being Monday, preparing for no less all the black night before--the clouds gathering thick upon us, and the winds singing and whistling most unusually, which made us to cast off our pinnace, towing the same until then astern-‑a dreadful storm and hideous began to blow from out the northeast, which swelling and roaring, as it were, by fits, some hours with more violence than others, at length did beat all light from heaven, which like an hell of darkness turned black upon us, so much the more fuller of horror, as in such cases horror and fear use to overrun the troubled and overmastered senses of all, which, taken up with amazement, the ears‑ lay so sensible to the terrible cries and murmurs of the winds and distraction of our company, as who was most armed and best prepared was not a little shaken. For surely (noble lady) as death comes not so sudden nor apparent, so he comes not so elvish and painful to men, especially even then in health and perfect habitudes of body, as at sea; who comes at no time so welcome but our frailty (so weak is the hold of hope in miserable demonstrations of danger) it makes guilty of many contrary changes and conflicts. For indeed death is accompanied at no time nor place with circumstances every way so uncapable of particularities of goodness and inward comforts as at sea. For it is most true there ariseth commonly no such unmerciful tempest, compound of so many contrary and diverse nations, but that it worketh upon the whole frame of the body, and most loathsomely affecteth all the powers thereof. And the manner of the sickness it lays upon the body, being so unsufferable, gives not the mind any free and quiet time to use her judgment and empire. Which made the poet say,

 

Hostium uxores puerique caecos

sentiant motus orientis Haedi &

aequoris nigri fiemitum & trementes

verbere ripas.

 

["May our enemies' wives and children feel the blind motions of rising (Haedus), and the roaring of the black sea and the shore quaking with the blow."]

 

For four and twenty hours the storm in a restless tumult had blown so exceedingly as we could not apprehend in our imaginations any possibility of greater violence. Yet did we still find it not only more terrible but more constant, fury added to fury, and one storm urging a second more outrageous than the former, whether it so wrought upon our fears or indeed met with new forces.

 

Sometimes strikes in our ship amongst women and passengers not used to such hurly and discomforts made us look one upon the other with troubled hearts and panting bosoms, our clamors drown'd in the winds, and the winds in thunder. Prayers might well be in the heart and lips, but drowned in the outcries of the officers, nothing heard that could give comfort, nothing seen that might encourage hope. It is impossible for me, had I the voice of Stentor, and expression of as many tongues as his throat of voices, to express the outcries and miseries, not languishing but wasting his spirits and art, constant to his own principles, but not prevailing.

 

Our sails, wound up, lay without their use. And if at any time we bore but a hullock, or half forecourse [storm sail], to guide her before the sea, six and sometimes eight men were not enough to hold the whipstaff in the steerage and the tiller below in the gunner room, by which may be imagined the strength of the storm in which the sea swelled above the clouds and gave battle unto heaven.

 

It could not be said to rain. The waters like whole rivers did flood in the air. And this I did still observe that whereas upon the land when a storm hath poured itself forth once in drifts of rain, the wind, as beaten down and vanquished therewith, not long after endureth. Here the glut of water, as if throttling the wind erewhile, was no sooner a little emptied and qualified but instantly the winds, as hav­ing gotten their mouths now free and at liberty, spake more loud, and grew more tumultuous and malignant. What shall I say -- Winds and seas were as mad as fury and rage could make them. For mine own part, I had been in some storms before, as well upon the coast of Barbary and Algier in the Levant, and once more distressful in the Adriatic Gulf, in a bottom of Candy [a ship of Crete], so as I may well say, Ego quid sit ater Adriae novi sinus & quid albus peccet Iapex. ["I know what the black gulf of the Adriatic is like, and the mischief of the white west‑nor'wester."]  Yet all that I had ever suffered gathered together might not hold comparison with this. There was not a moment in which the sudden splitting or instant oversetting of the ship was not expected.

 

Howbeit this was not all. It pleased God to bring a greater affliction yet upon us, for in the beginning of the storm we had received likewise a mighty leak, and the ship in every joint almost having spewed out her oakum before we were aware (a casualty more desperate than any other that a voyage by sea draweth with it) was grown five foot suddenly deep with water above her ballast, and we almost drowned within whilest we sat looking when to perish from above. This imparting no less terror than danger ran through the whole ship with much fright and amazement, startled and turned the blood, and took down the braves of the most hardy mariner of them all, insomuch as he that before happily felt not the sorrow of others now began to sorrow for himself when he saw such a pond of water so suddenly broken in, and which he knew could not without present avoiding but instantly sink him, so as joining only for his own sake, not yet worth the saving in the public safety.

 

There might be seen master, master's mate, boatswain, quarter­master, coopers, carpenters, and who not with candles in their hands, creeping along the ribs viewing the sides, searching every corner, and listening in every place, if they could hear the water run. Many a weeping leak was this way found and hastily stop'd, and at length one in the gunner room made up with I know not how many pieces of beef. But all was to no purpose: The leak (if it were but one) which drunk in our greatest seas and took in our destruction fastest could not then be found, nor ever was, by any labor, counsel, or search. The waters still increasing, and the pumps going, which at length choked with bringing up whole and continual biscuit‑and indeed all we had, ten thousand weight it was conceived as most likely that the leak might be sprung in the bread room, whereupon the car­penter went down and rip'd up all the room, but could not find it so.

 

I am not able to give unto Your Ladyship every man's thought in this perplexity to which we were now brought; but to me this leakage appeared as a wound given to men that were before dead. The Lord knoweth I had as little hope as desire of life in the storm, and in this it went beyond my will because beyond my reason why we should labor to preserve life. Yet we did, either because so dear are a few ling'ring hours of life in all mankind or that our Christian know­ledges taught us how much we owed to the rites of nature, as bound not to be false to ourselves, or to neglect the means of our own preservation, the most despairful things amongst men being matters of no wonder nor moment with Him who is the rich fountain and admirable essence of all mercy.

 

Our governor, upon the Tuesday morning (at what time by such who had been below in the hold the leak was first discovered) had caused the whole company‑about one hundred and forty, besides women‑to be equally divided into three parts, and opening the ship in three places: under the forecastle, in the waist, and hard by the bittake'‑appointed each man where to attend; and thereunto every man came duly upon his watch, took the bucket or pump for one hour, and rested another. Then men might be seen to labor (I may well say) for life, and the better sort, even our governor and admiral themselves, not refusing their turn, and to spell each the other to give example to other. The common sort stripped naked as men in galleys the easier both to hold out, and to shrink from under the salt water, which continually leapt in among them, kept their eyes waking and their thoughts and hands working, with tired bodies and wasted spirits, three days and four nights destitute of outward com­fort and desperate of any deliverance, testifying how mutually willing they were yet by labor to keep each other from drowning, albeit each one drowned whilest he labored.

 

Once, so huge a sea brake upon the poop and quarter upon us as it covered our ship from stern to stem. Like a garment or a vast cloud, it filled her brim full for a while within from the hatches up to the spar deck. This source or confluence of water was so violent as it rush'd and carried the helm‑man from the helm, and wrested the whipstaff out of his hand, which so flew from side to side that when he would have seized the same again, it so tossed him from starboard to larboard as it was God's mercy it had not split him. It so beat him from his hold, and so bruised him, as a fresh man, hazarding in by chance, fell fair with it, and by main strength bearing somewhat up, made good his place, and with much clamor encouraged and called upon others, who gave her now up rent in pieces and absolutely lost.

 

Our governor was at this time below at the capstan, both by his speech and authority heartening every man unto his labor. It struck him from the place where he sat and groveled him, and all us about him on our faces, beating together with our breaths all thoughts from our bosoms else than that we were now sinking. For my part, I thought her already in the bottom of the sea; and I have heard him say, wading out of the flood thereof, all his ambition was but to climb up above hatches to die in aperto coelo ["Under the open sky."] and in the company of his old friends. It so stun'd the ship in her full pace that she stirred no more than if she had been caught in a net or than as if the fabulous remora had stuck to her forecastle.2 Yet, without bearing one inch of sail, even then she was making her way nine or ten leagues in a watch. One thing, it is not without his wonder whether it were the fear of death in so great a storm or that it,pleased God to be gracious unto us: There was not a passenger, gentleman or other, after he began to stir and labor but was able to relieve his fellow and make good his course. And it is most true such as in all their lifetimes had never done hours' work before (their minds now helping their bodies) were able twice forty‑eight hours together to toil with the best.

           

            During all this time, the heavens look'd so black upon us that it was not possible the elevation of the Pole might be observed, nor a star by night, not sunbeam by day was to be seen. Only upon the Thursday night, Sir George Summers, being upon the watch, had an apparition of a little round light like a faint star, trembling and streaming along with a sparkling blaze half the height upon the mainmast, and shooting sometimes from shroud to shroud, tempting to settle as it were upon any of the four shrouds. And for three or four hours together, or rather more, half the night it kept with us, running sometimes along the main yard to the very end, and then returning; at which Sir George Summers called divers about him and showed them the same, who observed it with much wonder and carefulness. But upon a sudden, towards the morning watch, they lost the sight of it and knew not what way it made.

 

The superstitious seamen make many constructions of this sea fire, which nevertheless is usual in storms. The same it may be which the Grecians were wont in the Mediterranean to call "Castor and Pollux," of which, if one only appeared without the other, they took it for an evil sign of great tempest. The Italians, and such who lie open to the Adriatic and Tyrrhene Sea, call it a "sacred body" (corpo aancto). The Spaniards call it Saint Elmo, and have an authentic and miraculous legend for it. Be it what it will, we laid other foundations of safety or ruin than in the rising or falling of it. Could it have served us now miraculously to have taken our height by, it might have strucken amazement and a reverence in our devotions, accord­ing to the due of a miracle. But it did not light us any whit the more to our known way, who ran now as do hoodwinked men at all adventures, sometimes north and northeast, then north and by west, and in an instant again varying two or three points, and sometimes half the compass.

 

East and by south we steered away, as much as we could to bear upright, which was no small carefulness nor pain to do, albeit we much unrigged our ship, threw overboard much luggage, many a trunk and chest (in which I suffered no mean loss), and staved many a butt of beer, hogsheads of oil, cider, wine, and vinegar, and heaved away all our ordnance on the starboard side, and had now purposed to have cut down the mainmast the more to lighten her, for we were much spent, and our men so weary as their strengths together failed them with their hearts, having travailed now from Tuesday till Friday morning, day and night, without either sleep or food. For the leakage taking up all the hold, we could neither come by beer nor fresh water; fire we could keep none in the cookroom to dress any meat, and carefulness, grief, and our turn at the pump or bucket were sufficient to hold sleep from our eyes.

 

And surely, madam, it is most true there was not any hour (a matter of admiration) all these days in which we freed not twelve hundred barricoes of water, the least whereof contained six gallons, and some eight, besides three deep pumps continually going, two beneath at the capstan and the other above in the half deck, and at each pump four thousand strokes at the least in a watch, so as I may well say every four hours we quitted one hundred tons of water. And from Tuesday noon till Friday noon, we bailed and pumped two thousand ton, and yet, do what we could, when our ship held least in her (after Tuesday night second watch) she bore ten foot deep, at which stay our extreme working kept her one [for] eight glasses, forbearance whereof had instantly sunk us. And it being now Friday, the fourth morning, it wanted little but that there had been a general determination to have shut up hatches, and commending our sinful souls to God, committed the ship to the mercy of the sea. Surely that night we must have done it, and that night had we then perished.

 

But see the goodness and sweet introduction of better hope by our merciful God given unto us: Sir George Summers, when no man dreamed of such happiness, had discovered and cried LAND! Indeed the morning, now three quarters spent, had won a little clearness from the days before, and it being better surveyed, the very trees were seen to move with the wind upon the shore side. Whereupon our governor commanded the helm‑man to bear up. The boatswain sounding at the first found it thirteen fathom, and when we stood a little in, seven fathom; and presently heaving his lead the third time had ground at four fathom. And by this we had got her within a mile under the southeast point of the land, where we had somewhat smooth water. But having no hope to save her by coming to an anchor in the same, we were enforced to run her ashore as near the land as we could, which brought us within three quarters of a mile offshore; and by the mercy of God unto us, making out our boats, we had ere night brought all our men, women, and children, about the number of one hundred and fifty, safe into the island.

 

We found it to be the dangerous and dreaded island, or rather islands, of the Bermuda, whereof let me give Your Ladyship a brief description before I proceed to my narration; and that the rather, because they be so terrible to all that ever touched on them, and such tempests, thunders, and other fearful objects are seen and heard about them that they be called commonly "the Devil's Islands," and are feared and avoided of all sea travelers alive above any other place in the world. Yet it pleased our merciful God to make even this hideous and hated place both the place of our safety and means of our deliverance.

 

And hereby also I hope to deliver the world from a foul and general error: it being counted of most that they can be no habitation for men, but rather given over to devils and wicked spirits; whereas indeed we find them now by 'experience to be as habitable and commodious as most countries of the same climate and situation, insomuch as if the entrance into them were as easy as the place itself is contenting, it had long ere this been inhabited as well as other islands. Thus shall we make it appear that truth is the daughter of time, and that men ought not to deny everything which is not subject to their own sense.

 

The Bermudas be broken islands, five hundred of them in manner of an archipelagus (at least if you may call them all "islands" that lie how little soever into the sea and by themselves) of small compass, some larger yet than other, as time and the sea hath won from them and eaten his passage through, and all now lying in the figure of a croissant, within the circuit of six or seven leagues at the most, albeit at first it is said of them that they were thirteen or fourteen leagues and more in longitude, as I have heard. For no greater distance is it from the northwest point to Gates his Bay as by this map Your Ladyship may see, in which Sir George Summers, who coasted in his boat about them all, took great care to express the same exactly and full, and made his draft perfect for all good occasions, and the benefit of such who either in distress might be brought upon them or make sail this way.

 

It should seem by the testimony of Gonzalus Ferdinandus Oviedus, in his book entituled The Summary or Abridgment of his General History of the West Indies, written to the Emperor Charles the Fift, that they have been indeed of greater compass (and I easily believe it) than they are now, who thus saith, "In the year 1515, when I came first to inform Your Majesty of the state of the things in India, and was the year following in Flanders, in the time of your most fortunate success in these your kingdoms of Aragony and Castile; whereas at that voyage I sailed above the Island Bermudas, otherwise called Gorza, being the farthest of all the islands that are yet found at this day in the world, and arriving there at the depth of eight yards of water, and distant from the land as far as the shot of a piece of ordnance, I determined to send some of the ship to land, as well to make search of such things as were there as also to leave in the island certain hogs for increase. But the time not serving my purpose by reason of contrary wind, I could bring my ships no nearer‑the island being twelve leagues in length and sixteen in breadth, and about thirty in circuit, lying in the thirty‑three degrees of the north side." Thus far he.

           

            True it is the main island, or greatest of them now, may be some sixteen miles in length east‑northeast and west‑southwest, the longest part of it, standing in thirty‑two degrees and twenty minutes, in which is a great bay on the north side in the northwest end, and many broken islands in that sound, or bay, and a little round island at the southwest end. As occasions were offered, so we gave titles and names to certain places.

           

            These islands are often afflicted and rent with tempests‑great strokes of thunder, lightning, and rain in the extremity of violencewhich (and it may well be) hath so sund'red and torn down the rocks, and whirried whole quarters of islands into the main sea some six, some seven leagues, and is like in time to swallow them all, so as even in that distance from the shore there is no small danger of them and with them, of the storms continually raging from them, which once in the full and change commonly of every moon (winter or summer) keep their unchangeable round, and rather thunder than blow from every corner about them, sometimes forty‑eight hours together; especially if the circle which the philosophers call "halo" were (in our being there) seen about the moon at any season, which bow indeed appeared there often and would be of a mighty compass and breadth. I have not observed it anywhere one quarter so great. Especially about the twentieth of March, I saw the greatest, when followed upon the eve's eve of the Annunciation of Our Lady the mightiest blast of lightning and` most terrible rap of thunder that ever astonied mortal men, I think. In August, September, and until the end of October, we had very hot and pleasant weather, only (as I say) thunder, lightning, and many scattering showers of rain, which would pass swiftly over, and yet fall with such force and darkness for the time as if it would never be clear again. We wanted not any; and of rain more in summer than in winter.

 

And in the beginning of December we had great store of hail, the sharp winds blowing northerly, but it continued not. And to say truth, it is wintry or summer weather there according as those north and northwest winds blow. Much taste of this kind of winter we had, for those cold winds would suddenly alter the air. But when there was no breath of wind to bring the moist air out of the seas from the north and northwest, we were rather weary of the heat than pinched with extremity of cold. Yet the three winter months‑December, January, and February‑the winds kept in those cold corners, and indeed then it was heavy and melancholy being there. Nor were the winds more rough in March than in the foresaid months, and yet even then would the birds breed. I think they bred there most months in the year. In September and at Christmas I saw young birds, and in February, at which time the mornings are there, as in May in England, fresh and sharp.

 

Well may the Spaniards and these Biscany pilots, with all their traders into the Indies, pass by these islands as afraid (either bound out or homewards) of their very meridian, and leave the fishing for the pearl (which some say, and I believe well, is as good there as in any of their other Indian islands, and whereof we had some trial) to such as will adventure for them. The seas about them are so full of breaches as with those dangers they may well be said to be the strongest situate in the world. I have often heard Sir George Summers and Captain Newport say how they have not been by any chance or discovery upon their like. It is impossible without great and perfect knowledge and search first made of them to bring in a bauble boat so much as of ten ton without apparent ruin, albeit within there are many fair harbors for the greatest English ship. Yea, the argosies of Venice may ride there with water enough, and safe landlock'd. There is one only side that admits so much as hope of safety by many a league, on which (as before described) it pleased God to bring us. We had not come one man of us else ashore, as the weather was. They have been ever therefore left desolate and not inhabited.

 

The soil of the whole island is one and the same, the mould dark, red, sandy, dry, and uncapable, I believe, of any of our commodities or fruits. Sir George Summers, in the beginning of August, squared out a garden by the quarter‑the quarter being set down before a goodly bay upon which our governor did first leap ashore, and therefore called it (as aforesaid) Gates his Bay, which opened into the east, and into which the sea did ebb and flow according to their tides‑and sowed muskmelons, peas, onions, radish, lettuce, and many English seeds and kitchen herbs, all which in some ten days did appear above ground. But whether by the small birds, of which there be many kinds, or by flies‑worms I never saw any, nor any venomous thing as toad or snake, or any creeping beast hurtful, only some spiders which, as many affirm, are signs of great store of gold. But they were long and slender‑leg spiders, and whether venomous or no I know not. I believe not since we should still find them amongst our linen in our chests and drinking cans; but we never received any danger from them. A kind of me[lo]lontha, or black beetle, there was which bruised gave a savor like many sweet and strong gums punned together -- whether, I say, hind'red by these or by the condition or vice of the soil, they came to no proof nor thrived.

 

It is like enough that the commodities of the other western islands would prosper there, as vines, lemons, oranges, and sugar canes. Our governor made trial of the latter, and buried some two or three in the garden mould, which were reserved in the wrack amongst many which we carried to plant here in Virginia; and they began to grow, but the hogs breaking in both rooted them up and ate them.

 

There is not through the whole islands either champion ground, valleys, or fresh rivers.

 

They are full of shaws (copses) of goodly cedar, fairer than ours here of Virginia, the berries whereof our men seething, straining, and letting stand some three or four days made a kind of pleasant drink. These berries are of the same bigness and color of corinths [currants, full of little stones, and very restringent or hard building. Peter Martin saith that at Alexandria in Egypt there is a kind of cedar which the Jews dwelling there affirm to be the cedars of Libanus, which bear old fruit and new all the year, being a kind of apple which taste like prunes. But then neither those there in the Bermudas nor ours here in Virginia are of that happy kind.

           

            Likewise there grow great store of palm trees, not the right Indian palms, such as in Saint John Port‑Rico are called cocos, and are there full of small fruits like almonds of the bigness of the grains in pomegranates, nor of those kind of palms which bears dates, but a kind of simerons, or wild palms, in growth, fashion, leaves, and branches resembling those true palms. For the tree is high and straight, sappy and spongeous, unfirm for any use, no branches but in the uppermost part thereof, and in the top grow leaves about the head of it, the most inmost part whereof they call palmetto, and it is the heart and pith of the same trunk, so white and thin as it will peel off into pleats as smooth and delicate as white satin into twenty folds, in which a man may write as in paper, where they spread and fall downward about the tree like an overblown rose or saffron flower not early gathered. So broad are the leaves as an Italian umbrello. A man may well defend his whole body under one of them from the greatest storm rain that falls. For they being stiff and smooth, as if so many flags were knit together, the rain easily slideth off. We oftentimes found growing to these leaves many silkworms, involved therein like those small worms which Acosta writeth of, which grew in the leaves of the tunal tree, of which being dried the Indians make their cochineal, so precious and merchantable. With these leaves we thatched our cabins, and roasting the palmetto, or soft top thereof, they had a taste like fried melons. And being sod they ate like cabbages, but not so offensively thankful to the stomach. Many an ancient burgher was therefore heaved at, and fell not for his place but for his head. For our common people, whose bellies never had ears, made it no breach of charity in their hot bloods and tall stomachs to murder thousands of them. They bear a kind of berry black and round, as big as a damson, which about December were ripe and luscious. Being scalded whilest they are green, they eat like bullaces. These trees shed their leaves in the winter months, as withered or burnt with the cold blasts of the north wind, especially those that grow to the seaward; and in March there burgeon new in their room fresh and tender.

 

Other kinds of high and sweet‑smelling woods there be, and divers colors: black, yellow, and red, and one which bears a round blue berry, much eaten by our own people, of a styptic quality and rough taste on the tongue, like a sloe, to stay or bind the flux, which the often eating of the luscious palm berry would bring them into. For the nature of sweet things is to cleanse and dissolve.

 

A kind of peas, of the bigness and shape of a Catherine pear, we found growing upon the rocks, full of many sharp subtle pricks as a thistle, which we therefore called "the prickle pear," the outside green, but being opened, of a deep murrey, full of juice like a mul­berry, and just of the same substance and taste; we both ate them raw and baked.

           

            Sure it is that there are no rivers nor running springs of fresh water to be found upon any of them. When we came first, we digged and found certain gushings and soft bubblings, which being either in bottoms or on the side of hanging ground were only fed with rain water, which nevertheless soon sinketh into the earth and vanisheth away, or emptieth itself out of sight into the sea, without any channel above or upon the superficies of the earth. For according as their rains fell, we had our wells and pits, which we digged, either half full or absolute exhausted and dry, howbeit some low bottoms which the continual descent from the hills filled full, and in those flats could have no passage away, we found to continue as fishing ponds or standing pools, continually summer and winter full of fresh water.

 

The shore and bays round about, when we landed first, afforded great store of fish, and that of divers kinds and good. But it should seem that our fires, which we maintained on the shore's side, drave them from us, so as we were in some want until we had made a flat bottom gondol[a] of cedar with which we put off farther into the sea, and then daily hooked great store of many kinds, as excellent angelfish, salmon, peal, bonitos, stingray, cavally, snappers, hogfish, sharks, dogfish, pilchards, mullets, and rockfish, of which be divers kinds. And of these our governor dried and salted and, barreling them up, brought to sea five hundred. For he had procured salt to be made with some brine, which happily was preserved, and once having made a little quantity, he kept three or four pots boiling, and two or three men attending nothing else in an house some little distance from his bay, set up on purpose for the same work.

           

            Likewise in Furbusher's Building Bay we had a large seine, or trammel net, which our governor caused to be made of the deer toils which we were to carry to Virginia, by drawing the masts more straight and narrow with rope yarn, and which reached from one side of the dock to the other, with which, I may boldly say, we have taken five thousand of small and great fish at one hale, as pilchards, breams, mullets, rockfish, etc., and other kinds for which we have no names. We have taken also from under the broken rocks crayfishes oftentimes greater than any of our best English lobsters; and likewise abundance of crabs, oysters, and whelks. True it is for fish in every cove and creek we found snaules [snails?] and schools in that abundance as, I think, no island in the world may have greater store or better fish. For they, sucking of the very water which descendeth from the high hills mingled with juice and verdor of the palms, cedars, and other sweet woods‑which likewise make the herbs, roots, and weeds sweet which grow about the banks‑become thereby both fat and wholesome, as must those fish needs be gross, slimy, and corrupt the blood which feed in fens, marishes, ditches, muddy pools, and near unto places where much filth is daily cast forth.

 

Unscaled fishes, such as Junius calleth molles Pisces, as trenche(r)s, eel, or lampreys, and such feculent and dangerous snakes, we never saw any, nor may any river be envenomed with them (I pray God) where I come.

 

I forbear to speak what a sort of whales we have seen hard aboard the shore, followed sometime by the swordfish and the thresher, the sport whereof was not unpleasant: the swordfish with his sharp and needle fin pricking him into the belly when he would sink and fall into the sea; and when he startled upward from his wounds, the thresher with his large fins like flails beating him above water. The examples whereof gives us (saith Oviedus) to understand that in the selfsame peril and danger do men live in this mortal life wherein is no certain security, neither in high estate nor low.

           

            Fowl there is great store, small birds, sparrows fat and plump like a bunting, bigger than ours, robins of divers colors green and yellow, ordinary and familiar in our cabins, and, other of less sort; white and gray heronshews, bitterns, teal, snites, crows, and hawks, of which in March we found divers aeries, (and] goshawks and tassels (tercels), oxenbirds, cormorants, baldcoots, moorhens, owls, and bats in great store. And upon New Year's Day in the morning, our governor being walked forth with another gentleman, Master James Swift, each of them with their pieces killed a wild swan in a great sea water bay, or pond, in our island. A kind of web=footed fowl there is, of the bigness of an English green plover, or sea mew, which all the summer we saw not, and in the darkest nights of November and December (for in the night they only feed) they would come forth, but not fly far from home, and hovering in the air and over the sea, made a strange hollow and harsh howling. Their color is inclining to russet, with white bellies, as are likewise the long feathers of their wings russet and white. These gather themselves together and breed in those islands which are high, and so far alone into the sea that the wild hogs cannot swim over them; and there in the ground they have their burrows, like conies in a warren, and so brought in the loose mould, though not so deep; which birds with a light bough in a dark night, as in our lowbelling, we caught. I have been at the taking of three hundred in an hour, and we might have laden our boats. Our men found a pretty way to take them, which was by standing on the rocks or sands by the seaside, and holloing, laughing, and making the strangest outcry that possibly they could, with the noise whereof the birds would come flocking to that place, and settle upon the very arms and head of him that so cried, and still creep nearer and nearer, answering the noise themselves; by which our men would weigh them with their hand, and which weighed heaviest they took for the best and let the others alone; and so our men would take twenty dozen in two hours of the chiefest of them; and they were a good and well‑relished fowl, fat and full as a partridge. In January we had great store of their eggs, which are as great as an hen's egg, and so fashioned and white‑shelled, and have no difference in yolk nor white from an hen's egg. There are thousands of these birds, and two or three islands full of their burrows, whither at any time in two hours' warning we could send our cockboat and bring home as many as would serve the whole company; which birds, for their blindness (for they see weakly in the day) and for their cry and hooting, we called the "sea owl." They will bite cruelly with their crooked bills.

           

            We had knowledge that there were wild hogs upon the island at first by our own swine preserved from the wrack and brought to shore. For they straying into the woods, an huge wild boar followed down to our quarter, which at night was watched and taken in this sort: One of Sir George Summers' men went and lay among the swine. When the boar being come and groveled by the sows, he put over his hand and rubbed the side gently of the boar, which then lay still, by which means he fast'ned a rope with a sliding knot to the hinder leg, and so took him, and after him in this sort two or three more.

 

But in the end (a little business over), our people would go s­hunting with our ship dog, and sometimes bring home thirty, some­times fifty boars, sows, and pigs in a week alive. For the dog would fasten on them and hold whilest the huntsmen made in. And there be thousands of them in the islands, and at that time of the year‑in August, September, October, and November‑they were well fed with berries that dropped from the cedars and the palms. And in our quarter we made sties for them, and gathering of these berries served them twice a day, by which means we kept them in good plight. Aid when there was any fret of weather (for upon every increase of wind the billow would be so great as it was no putting out with our gondol, or canoe) that we could not fish nor take tortoises, then we killed our hogs. But in February, when the palm berries began to be scant or dry, and the cedar berries failed two months sooner, true it is the hogs grew poor. And being taken so, we could not raise them to be better, for besides those berries we had nothing wherewith to frank them. But even then the tortoises came in again, of which we daily both turned up great store, finding them on land as also sculling after them in our boat, struck them with an iron goad and sod, baked, and roasted them.

           

            The tortoise is reasonable toothsome, some say wholesome meat. I am sure our company liked the meat of them very well. And one tortoise would go further amongst them than three hogs. One turtle, for so we called them, feasted well a dozen messes, appointing six to every mess. It is such a kind of meat as a man can neither absolutely call fish nor flesh, keeping most what in the water, and feeding upon sea grass like a heifer in the bottom of the coves and bays, and laying their eggs (of which we should find five hundred at a time in the opening of a she‑turtle) in the sand by the shore side, and so covering them close, leave them to the hatching of the sun, like the manatee at Saint Dominique which made the Spanish friars, at their first arrival, make some scruple to eat them on a Friday because in color and taste the flesh is like to morsels of veal. Concerning the laying of their eggs and hatching of their young, Peter Martyr writeth thus in his Decades of the Ocean: At such time as the heat of nature moveth them to generation, they came forth of the sea, and making a deep pit in the sand, they lay three or four hundred eggs therein. When they have thus emptied their bag of conception, they put as much of the same again into the pit as may satisfy to cover the eggs, and so resort again unto the sea, nothing careful of their succession. At the day appointed of nature to the procreation of these creatures, there creepeth out a multitude of tortoises as it were pismires out of an anthill, and this only by the heat of the sun, without any help of their parents. Their eggs are as big as geese eggs; and themselves grown to perfection, bigger than great round targets.