A Source Book in Geography

Author: Richard Hakluyt  | Date: 1907

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From Hakluyt’s Voyages

The epistle dedicatorie in the first edition, 1589

To the Right Honorable Sir Francis Walsingham Knight, Principall Secretarie to her Majestie, Chancellor of the Duchie of Lancaster, and one of her Majesties most honourable Privie Councell.

Right Honorable, I do remember that being a youth, and one of her Majesties scholars at Westminster that fruitfull nurserie, it was my happe to visit the chamber of M. Richard Hakluyt my cosin, a Gentleman of the Middle Temple, well knowen unto you, at a time when I found lying open upon his boord certeine bookes of Cosmographie, with an universall Mappe: he seeing me somewhat curious in the view therof, began to instruct my ignorance, by shewing me the division of the earth into three parts after the olde account, and then according to the latter, & better distribution, into more: he pointed with his wand to all the knowen Seas, Gulfs, Bayes, Straights, Gapes, Rivers, Empires, Kingdomes, Dukedomes, and Territories of ech part, with declaration also of their speciall commodities, & particular wants, which by the benefit of traffike, & enter-course of merchants, are plentifully supplied. From the Mappe he brought me to the Bible, and turning to the 107 Psalme, directed mee to the 23 & 24 verses, where I read, that they which go downe to the sea in ships, and occupy by the great waters, they see the works of the Lord, and his woonders in the deepe, &c. Which words of the Prophet together with my cousins discourse (things of high and rare delight to my yong nature) tooke in me so deepe an impression, that I constantly resolved, if ever I were preferred to the University, where better time, and more convenient place might be ministred for these studies, I would by Gods assistance prosecute that knowledge and kinde of literature, the doores whereof (after a sort) were so happily opened before me.

The newe Navigation and discoverie of the kingdome of Moscovia, by the Northeast, in the yeere 1553

But after much adoe and many things passed about this matter, they grewe at last to this issue, to set downe and appoynt a time for the departure of the shippes: because divers were of opinion, that a great part of the best time of the yeere was already spent, and if the delay grewe longer, the way would bee stopt and bard by the force of the Ice, and the colde climate: and therefore it was thought best by the opinion of them all, that by the twentieth day of May, the Captaines and Mariners should take shipping, and depart from Radcliffe upon the ebbe, if it pleased God. They having saluted their acquaintance, one his wife, another his children, another his kinsfolkes, and another his friends deerer then his kinsfolkes, were present and ready at the day appoynted: and having wayed ancre, they departed with the turning of the water, and sailing easily, came first to Greenewich. The greater shippes are towed downe with boates, and oares, and the mariners being all apparelled in Watchet or skie coloured cloth, rowed amaine, and made way with diligence. And being come neere to Greenewich (where the Court then lay) presently upon the newes therof, the Courtiers came running out, and the common people flockt together, standing very thicke upon the shoare: the privie Counsel, they lookt out at the windowes of the Court, and the rest ranne up to the toppes of the towers: the shippes hereupon discharge their Ordinance, and shoot off their pieces after the manner of warre, and of the sea, insomuch that the tops of the hilles sounded therewith, the valleys and the waters gave an Eccho, and the Mariners, they shouted in such sort, that the skie rang againe with the noyse thereof. One stoode in the poope of the ship, and by his gesture bids farewell to his friendes in the best manner hee could. Another walkes upon the hatches, another climbes the shrowds, another stands upon the maine yard, and another in th e top of the shippe. To be short, it was a very triumph (after a sort) in all respects to the beholders.

The description of the countrey of Russia

The whole Countrey differeth very much from it selfe, by reason of the yeere: so that a man would marveile to see the great alteration and difference betwixt the Winter, and the Summer Russia. The whole Countrey in the Winter lieth under snow, which falleth continually, and is sometime of a yard or two thicke, but greater towards the North. The Rivers and other waters are all frosen up a yard or more thicke, how swift or broade so ever they bee. And this continueth commonly five moneths, viz. from the beginning of November till towardes the ende of March, what time the snow beginneth to melt. So that it would breede a frost in a man to looke abroad at that time, and see the Winter face of that Countrey. The sharpenesse of the aire you may judge of by this: for that water dropped downe or cast up into the aire congealeth into yce before it come to the ground. In the extremitie of Winter, if you holde a pewter dish or pot in your hand, or any other mettall (except in some chamber where their warme stoaves bee) your fingers will friese fast unto it, and drawe off the skinne at the parting. When you passe out of a warme roome into a colde, you shall sensibly feele your breath to waxe starke, and even stifeling with the colde, as you drawe it in and out. Divers not onely that travell abroad, but in the very markets, and streetes of their Townes, are mortally pinched and killed withall: so that you shall see many drop downe in the streetes; many travellers brought into the Townes sitting dead and stifle in their Sleds. Divers lose their noses, the tips of their eares, and the bals of their cheekes, their toes, feets, &c. Many times (when the Winter is very hard and extreeme) the beares and woolfes issue by troupes out of the woods driven by hunger, and enter the villages, tearing and ravening all they can finde: so that the inhabitants are faine to file for safegard of their lives. And yet in the Sommer time you shal see such a new hiew and face of a Countrey, the woods (for the most part which are all of firre and birch) so fresh and so sweete, the pastures and medowes so greene and well growen, (and that upon the sudden) such varietie of flowers, such noyse of birdes (specially of Nightingales, that seeme to be more lowde and of a more variable note then in other Countreys) that a man shall not lightly travell in a more pleasant Countrey.

And this fresh and speedy growth of the Spring there seemeth to proceede from the benefits of the snow: which all the Winter time being spread over the whole Countrey as a white robe, and keeping it warme from the rigour of the frost, in the Spring time (when the Sunne waxeth warme, and dissolveth it into water) doeth so throughly drench and soake the ground, that is somewhat of a sleight and sandie mould, and then shineth so hotely upon it againe, that it draweth the hearbes and plants foorth in great plentie and varietie, in a very short time. As the Winter exceedeth in colde, so the Sommer inclineth to over much heat, specially in the moneths of June, July and August, being much warmer then the Sommer aire in England.

The Famous voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South sea, and there-hence about the whole Globe of the earth

The 17. day of August we departed the port of S. Julian, & the 20. day we fell with the streight or freat of Magellan going into the South sea, at the Cape or headland whereof we found the bodie of a dead man, whose flesh was cleane consumed.

The 21. day we entred The streight, which we found to have many turnings, and as it were shuttings up, as if there were no passage at all, by meanes whereof we had the wind often against us, so that some of the fleete recovering a Cape or point of land, others should be forced to turne backe againe, and to come to an anchor where they could.

In this streight there be many faire harbors, with store of fresh water, but yet they lacke their best commoditie: for the water is there of such depth, that no man shal find ground to anchor in, except it bee in some narow river or corner, or betweene some rocks, so that if any extreme blasts or contrary winds do come (whereunto the place is much subject) it carieth with it no small danger.

The land on both sides is very huge & mountainous, the lower mountains whereof, although they be monstrous and wonderfull to looke upon for their height, yet there are others which in height exceede them in a strange maner, reaching themselves above their fellows so high, that be-tweene them did appeare three regions of cloudes.

These mountaines are covered with snow: at both the Southerly and Easterly partes of the streight there are Islands, among which the sea hath his indraught into the streights, even as it hath in the maine entrance of the freat.

This streight is extreme cold, with frost and snow continually; the trees seem to stoope with the burden of the weather, and yet are greene continually, and many good and sweete herbes doe very plentifully grow and increase under them.

The bredth of the streight is in some place a league, in some other places 2. leagues, and three leagues, and in some other 4. leagues, but the narrowest place hath a league over.

The 24. of August we arrived at an Island in the streights, where we found great store of foule which could not flie, of the bignesse of geese, whereof we killed in lesse then one day 3000. and victualled our selves throughly therewith.

The 6. day of September we entred the South sea at the Cape or head shore.

An excellent ruttier for the Islands of the West Indies. . . .

The course that a man must keepe departing in winter for the Indies from Sant Lucar

Departing from Sant Lucar in winter thou shalt goe West and by South keeping along the coast, because if thou goe farre from the coast, thou shalt meete with the wind off the sea untill thou be as high shot as Cape Cantin, which is a low flat cape with the sea. And thou shalt see a great wood before thou come at this cape, called Casa del Cavallero. And from thence thou shalt steere thy olde course, that is Southwest and by South for the Isles of Alegranza, and Lancerota; and when thou art North and South with Alegranza, thou shalt steere thence Southwest, and so thou shalt see the Canaria, which is a round high land, and standeth in twentie eight degrees.

The course from Santo Domingo to go for Nueva Espanna

I advise thee that if thou wilt goe from Santo Domingo for Nueva Espanna, thou shalt goe Southwest and by South, and so thou shalt have sight of Punta de Nizao, which is a low point, and is the end of the hilles called Sierras de las minas Viejas, and towards the Northwest of them thou shalt see a lowe land, and to goe into Hocoa thou shalt stirre from this poynt of Nizao Westnorthwest, and thou shalt see the point of Puerto Hermoso, and the Bay that it maketh: and thou must be sure to keepe neere the shore to find a good road, and feare not to go neere the land: for all is deepe water, and cleare ground, and let not fall thine anker til thou be past all the rivers; and beware of the land, for it thou ride much without, thy anker wil come home, because it is rocky and flatte ground. And thou must be ready, that when thine anker commeth home, thou have thy moarings readie in thy boat to carry on shore with foure or five men, and if thou thinke good, thou mayest let them fall on land with a rope. And when thou are come to anker thou mayest send on shore to moare, so shalt thou be best moared.

A principal ruttier . . . to sail to . . . Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba

The course from the Canaries to the West Indies

If you set saile from any of the Islands of the Canaries for the West Indias, you must stirre away 30. or 40 leagues due South, to the ende you may avoid the calmes of the Island of Fierro: and being so farre distant from the said Island, then must you stirre away West Southwest, untill you finde your selfe in 20. degrees, and then saile West and by South untill you come to 15. degrees and ½. And then thence stirre away West and by North; and so shall you make a West way by reason of the Northwesting of the Compasse: which West way will bring you to the Island of Deseada.

The markes of the Island of Deseada

This Island Deseada lieth East Northeast, and West Southwest, having no trees upon it, and it is proportioned like a Galley, and the Northeast end: thereof maketh a lowe nose like the snowt of a galley; and by comming neere it, and passing by the Norther ende thereof, you shall perceive white broken patches like heapes of sand with red strakes in them: & the Southwest end of this Island maketh like the tilt of a galley. And this Island standeth in 15. degrees and ½.

Markes of the Island of Monserate

Monserate is an high Island, and round, full of trees, and upon the East side thereof you shall perceive certain white spots like sheetes: and being upon the South side at the very point of the Island, somewhat off the land, it maketh like a litle Island, and putting your selfe either East or West from that point, in the midst thereof will appeare a great broken land.

Markes of the Island of Marigalanta

Marigalanta is a smooth Island, and full of wood or trees, and as it were of the fashion of a galley upon her decke: and being on the Southeast side about half a league off you shall make certaine homocks of blacke stones, and certain white patches: but on the West side appeare faire white sandy shores or plaines.

From Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Voyages . . . of the English Nation (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1907), I, 1, 270–271; II, 290–291; VIII, 56–57; VII, 225, 228, 247.


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Chicago: Richard Hakluyt, "From Hakluyt’s Voyages," A Source Book in Geography in A Source Book in Geography, ed. George Kish (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 327–333. Original Sources, accessed April 13, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7S3JYJ2VTIMR64N.

MLA: Hakluyt, Richard. "From Hakluyt’s Voyages." A Source Book in Geography, Vol. VII, in A Source Book in Geography, edited by George Kish, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1978, pp. 327–333. Original Sources. 13 Apr. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7S3JYJ2VTIMR64N.

Harvard: Hakluyt, R, 'From Hakluyt’s Voyages' in A Source Book in Geography. cited in 1978, A Source Book in Geography, ed. , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp.327–333. Original Sources, retrieved 13 April 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=7S3JYJ2VTIMR64N.