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every month throughout the summer, if steam-packets were established, in from eight to ten days.
Its extreme length measured, on a curve from Cape Race to Griguet Bay, is about 420 miles ; its widest part, from Cape Ray to Cape Bonavista, is about 300 miles, and excluding its broken and rugged shores, the circumference may be stated at 1000 miles; the whole comprising an area of 36,000 square miles.
GENERAL HISTORY.— The history of this island begins, according to tradition, with its possession by Biorn, a sea king, or pirate of Iceland, who was driven thither, and is said to have taken shelter near Port Grace Harbour, about the year 1001. It is doubtful, however, whether his party ever colonised the island; if so, perhaps they had become extinct before its second discovery by John Cabot, the Venetian, who obtained a commission, to make discoveries, from Henry VII.; and during his first voyage, 24th June, 1497, observed a headland, which, as a lucky omen, he named Bonavista, which name it retains to the present day. Cabot brought home with him three of the natives, who were clothed in skins, and speaking a language which no person understood.
Robertson and Pinkerton were of opinion that Newfoundland was first colonised by the Norwegians, and the latter thought the red Indians degenerated savages from the Norwegian settlers, whom Eric, Bishop of Greenland, went to Winland in 1221 to reform.
Some years ago a party of settlers proceeding up
a river which falls into Conception Bay, observed at a distance of six or seven miles above the bay the appearance of stone walls rising above the surface; on removing the sand and alluvial earth, they ascertained these to be the remains of ancient buildings, with oak beams, and millstones sunk in oaken beds; inclosures resembling gardens were also traced out, and plants of various kinds, not indigenous to the island, were growing around. Among the ruins were found different European coins, some of Dutch gold, considered to be old Flemish coins, others of copper without inscriptions. According to a paper by Capt. Hercules Robinson, obligingly lent me by the late Secretary to the Royal Geographical Society, doubts are endeavoured to be thrown on the antiquity of the buildings, and although the finding of coins of virgin gold is admitted by Capt. Robinson, he asserts that the ruins are probably not older than the settlement of Lord Baltimore. I see no reason to agree with Capt. Robinson's apparently hastily-founded opinions.
The Newfound Island, after its discovery by Cabot, was visited by Cotereal, a Portuguese, and Cartier, a French navigator, who reported most favourably on the abundance and excellency of its cod fishery, owing to which it was called Bacalao, the Indian name for that fish. Fishermen were soon attracted from European nations to visit its 'coasts; still no permanent settlement was made, and the fate of the early attempts at this object were such as, for a length of time, to deter future adventurers. Besides several others, Mr. Hoare, a merchant of London, fitted out a ship, and attempted to pass the winter
there in 1536, but the crew, to avoid starvation, were obliged to resort to the most horrible expedients, and indeed would all have perished had they not luckily found a French ship, in which the emaciated survivors returned to England, giving deplorable accounts of their sufferings. Not deterred by this failure, however, and his own first attempt in 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the enterprising half brother of the famous Sir Walter Raleigh, having obtained a patent from Queen Elizabeth for six years, granting him possession of 200 leagues round any point he chose to settle on, sold all his estates in England, and fitted out five small vessels, in which he embarked with 200 people in 1583. Sir Humphrey landed in the Bay of St. John's, and took quiet possession of the country, in the presence of a vast concourse of fishermen, being the crews of thirty-six vessels of different nations. This unfortunate adventurer was, however, not destined to realise his hopes; being anxious to take possession of as much country as possible before the expiration of his patent, he proposed to prosecute his discoveries to the south ; but his crews mutinied, and part of them returned home : of those who followed him above 100 were lost in a gale, on board of one of the ships, off the Sable Island, or bank, and disheartened by their adverse circumstances, the others insisted on,his steering homeward, which Sir Humphrey reluctantly consented to, remarking that he had but suspended his scheme until next spring, “when he would fit out an expedition royally." His ship, however, foundered in a storm on the passage home, and thus
ended this disastrous expedition. Sir Humphrey Gilbert is represented at having been a man of engaging manners, courage, and learning, and much esteemed by Queen Elizabeth.
In 1585, according to our next accounts, a voyage was made to Newfoundland by Sir Bernard Drake, who claimed its sovereignty and fishery in the name of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Bernard seized several Portuguese ships laden with fish, and oil, and furs, and returned to England; but, owing to the war with Spain, and the alarm caused by the Spanish armada, several years elapsed before another voyage was made to the island.
A fresh attempt was made at a settlement in 1610, but this was also abandoned, as well as several subsequent ones. The attempt in 1610 was made by virtue of a patent granted by James I. to the Lord Chancellor Bacon, Lord Verulam, the Earl of Northampton, Lord Chief Baron Tanfield, Sir John Doddridge, and forty other persons, and under the designation of the “ Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the Cities of London and Bristol for the Colony of Newfoundland.” The patent granted the lands between Capes St. Mary and Bonavista, with the seas and islands lying within ten leagues of the coast, for the purpose of securing the trade of fishing to our subjects for ever. Mr. Guy, an intelligent and enterprising merchant of Bristol, who planned this expedition, settled in Conception Bay, remained there two years, and then returned to England, leaving behind some of his people to carry on the fishery, the attempt at planting