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Title: Vikings of the Pacific - The Adventures of the Explorers who Came from the West, Eastward
Author: Laut, Agnes C. (Agnes Christina), 1871-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in
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The Adventures of the Explorers Who Came from the West, Eastward

Bering, the Dane; the Outlaw Hunters of Russia;
Benyowsky, the Polish Pirate; Cook and
Vancouver, the English Navigators; Gray of
Boston, the Discoverer of the
Columbia; Drake, Ledyard, and Other
Soldiers of Fortune on the
West Coast of America



Author of "Pathfinders of the West," Etc.

[Frontispiece: Seal Rookery, Commander Islands.]

New York
The MacMillan Company
London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd.
All rights reserved

Copyright, 1905,
by the MacMillan Company.
Set up and electrotyped.  Published December, 1905.



At the very time the early explorers of New France were pressing from
the east, westward, a tide of adventure had set across Siberia and the
Pacific from the west, eastward.  Carrier and Champlain of New France
in the east have their counterparts and contemporaries on the Pacific
coast of America in Francis Drake, the English pirate on the coast of
California, and in Staduchin and Deshneff and other Cossack plunderers
of the North Pacific, whose rickety keels first ploughed a furrow over
the trackless sea out from Asia.  Marquette, Jolliet and La
Salle--backed by the prestige of the French government are not unlike
the English navigators, Cook and Vancouver, sent out by the English
Admiralty.  Radisson, privateer and adventurer, might find counterpart
on the Pacific coast in either Gray, the discoverer of the Columbia, or
Ledyard, whose ill-fated, wildcat plans resulted in the Lewis and Clark
expedition.  Bering was contemporaneous with La Vérendrye; and so the
comparison might be carried on between Benyowsky, the Polish pirate of
the Pacific, or the Outlaw Hunters of Russia, and the famous buccaneers
of the eastern Spanish Main.  The main point is--that both tides {viii}
of adventure, from the east, westward, from the west, eastward, met,
and clashed, and finally coalesced in the great fur trade, that won the

The Spaniards of the Southwest--even when they extended their
explorations into the Northwest--have not been included in this volume,
for the simple reason they would require a volume by themselves.  Also,
their aims as explorers were always secondary to their aims as treasure
hunters; and their main exploits were confined to the Southwest.  Other
Pacific coast explorers, like La Pérouse, are not included here because
they were not, in the truest sense, discoverers, and their exploits
really belong to the story of the fights among the different fur
companies, who came on the ground after the first adventurers.

In every case, reference has been to first sources, to the records left
by the doers of the acts themselves, or their contemporaries--some of
the data in manuscript, some in print; but it may as well be frankly
acknowledged that _all_ first sources have _not_ been exhausted.  To do
so in the case of a single explorer, say either Drake or Bering--would
require a lifetime.  For instance, there are in St. Petersburg some
thirty thousand folios on the Bering expedition to America.  Probably
only one person--a Danish professor--has ever examined all of these;
and the results of his investigations I have consulted.  Also, there
are in the State Department, Washington, some hundred old log-books of
the Russian hunters which {ix} have--as far as I know--never been
turned by a single hand, though I understand their outsides were looked
at during the fur seal controversy.  The data on this era of adventure
I have chiefly obtained from the works of Russian archivists, published
in French and English.  To give a list of all authorities quoted would
be impossible.  On Alaska alone, the least-known section of the Pacific
coast, there is a bibliographical list of four thousand.  The
better-known coast southward has equally voluminous records.  Nor is
such a list necessary.  Nine-tenths of it are made up of either
descriptive works or purely scientific pamphlets; and of the remaining
tenth, the contents are obtained in undiluted condition by going
directly to the first sources.  A few of these first sources are
indicated in each section.

It is somewhat remarkable that Gray--as true a naval hero as ever trod
the quarter-deck, who did the same for the West as Carrier for the St.
Lawrence, and Hudson for the river named after him--is the one man of
the Pacific coast discoverers of whom there are scantiest records.
Authentic histories are still written, that cast doubt on his
achievement.  Certainly a century ago Gray was lionized in Boston; but
it may be his feat was overshadowed by the world-history of the new
American republic and the Napoleonic wars at the opening of the
nineteenth century; or the world may have taken him at his own
valuation; and Gray was a hero of the non-shouting sort.  The data on
{x} Gray's discovery have been obtained from the descendants of the
Boston men who outfitted him, and from his own great-grandchildren.
Though he died a poor man, the red blood of his courage and ability
seems to have come down to his descendants; for their names are among
the best known in contemporary American life.  To them my thanks are
tendered.  Since the contents of this volume appeared serially in
_Leslie's Monthly_, _Outing_, and _Harper's Magazine_, fresh data have
been sent to me on minor points from descendants of the explorers and
from collectors.  I take this opportunity to thank these contributors.
Among many others, special thanks are due Dr. George Davidson,
President of San Francisco Geographical Society, for facts relating to
the topography of the coast, and to Dr. Leo Stejneger of the
Smithsonian, Washington, for facts gathered on the very spot where
Bering perished.

WASSAIC, New York,

July 15, 1905.







Peter the Great sends Bering on Two Voyages: First, to
  discover whether America and Asia are united; Second, to
  find what lies north of New Spain--Terrible Hardships
  of Caravans crossing Siberia for Seven Thousand
  Miles--Ships lost in the Mist--Bering's Crew cast away on a
  Barren Isle  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3




Frightful Sufferings of the Castaways on the Commander
  Islands--The Vessel smashed in a Winter Gale, the Sick are
  dragged for Refuge into Pits of Sand--Here, Bering
  perishes, and the Crew Winter--The Consort Ship under
  Chirikoff Ambushed--How the Castaways reach Home . . . . .   37




How the Sea-otter Pelts brought back by Bering's Crew led
  to the Exploitation of the Northwest
  Coast of America--Difference of Sea-otter
  from Other Fur-bearing Animals of
  the West--Perils of the Hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   62




The American Coast becomes the Great Rendezvous for Siberian
  Criminals and Political Exiles--Beyond Reach of Law,
  Cossacks and Criminals perpetrate Outrages
  on the Indians--The Indians' Revenge wipes
  out Russian Forts in America--The Pursuit
  of Four Refugee Russians from Cave to
  Cave over the Sea at Night--How they escape after a
  Year's Chase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   80




Siberian Exiles under Polish Soldier of Fortune plot to
  overthrow Garrison of Kamchatka and escape to West Coast
  of America as Fur Traders--A Bloody Melodrama enacted
  at Bolcheresk--The Count and his Criminal Crew sail to
  America  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  106






How the Sea Rover was attacked and ruined as a Boy on the
  Spanish Main off Mexico--His Revenge in sacking
  Spanish Treasure Houses and crossing Panama--The Richest
  Man in England, he sails to the Forbidden Sea, scuttles all
  the Spanish Ports up the West Coast of South America
  and takes Possession of New Albion (California) for
  England  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  133




The English Navigator sent Two Hundred Years later to find
  the New Albion of Drake's Discoveries--He misses both
  the Straits of Fuca and the Mouth of the Columbia, but
  anchors at Nootka, the Rendezvous of Future
  Traders--No Northeast Passage found through Alaska--The True
  Cause of Cook's Murder in Hawaii told by Ledyard--Russia
  becomes Jealous of his Explorations  . . . . . . . . . . .  172




Boston Merchants, inspired by Cook's Voyages, outfit Two
  Vessels under Kendrick and Gray for Discovery and Trade
  on the Pacific--Adventures of the First Ship to carry the
  American Flag around the World--Gray attacked by
  Indians at Tillamook Bay--His Discovery of the
  Columbia River on the Second Voyage--Fort Defence and the
  First American Ship built on the Pacific . . . . . . . . .  210




A New England Ne'er-do-well, turned from the Door of Rich
  Relatives, joins Cook's Expedition to America--Adventure
  among the Russians of Oonalaska--Useless Endeavor
  to interest New England Merchants in Fur Trade--A
  Soldier of Fortune in Paris, he meets Jefferson and Paul
  Jones and outlines Exploration of Western America--Succeeds
  in crossing Siberia alone on the Way to America, but
  is thwarted by Russian Fur Traders . . . . . . . . . . . .  242




Activities of Americans, Spanish, and Russians on the West Coast
  of America arouse England--Vancouver is sent out
  ostensibly to settle the Quarrel between Fur Traders and
  Spanish Governors at Nootka--Incidentally, he is to complete
  the Exploration of America's West Coast and take Possession
  for England of Unclaimed Territory--The Myth of a
  Northeast Passage dispelled Forever  . . . . . . . . . . .  263






The Pursuit of the Sable leads Cossacks across Siberia; of the
  Sea-otter, across the Pacific as far south
  as California--Caravans of Four Thousand Horses
  on the Long Trail--Seven Thousand Miles
  across Europe and Asia--Banditti of the Sea--The
  Union of All Traders in One Monopoly--Siege
  and Slaughter of Sitka--How Monroe Doctrine
  grew out of Russian Fur Trade--Aims of Russia to
  dominate North Pacific . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  293




Baranof lays the Foundations of Russian Empire on the Pacific
  Coast of America--Shipwrecked on his Way to Alaska,
  he yet holds his Men in Hand and turns the Ill-hap to
  Advantage--How he bluffs the Rival Fur Companies in
  Line--First Russian Ship built in America--Adventures
  leading the Sea-otter Hunters--Ambushed by the Indians--The
  Founding of Sitka--Baranof, cast off in his Old
  Age, dies of Broken Heart  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  316

INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  339


Seal Rookery, Commander Islands  . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

Peter the Great  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    5

Map of Course followed by Bering   . . . . . . . . . . . .  20-21

The _St. Peter_ and _St. Paul_, from a rough sketch
  by Bering's comrade, Steller, the scientist  . . . . . . .   29

Steller's Arch on Bering Island, named after the scientist
  Steller, of Bering's Expedition  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   39

A Glacier  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   46

Sea Cows   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   53

Seals in a Rookery on Bering Island  . . . . . . . . . . . .   57

Mauritius Augustus, Count Benyowsky  . . . . . . . . . . . .  109

Sir John Hawkins   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  135

Queen Elizabeth knighting Drake  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  146

The _Golden Hind_  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  151

Francis Drake  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  155

The Crowning of Drake in California  . . . . . . . . . . . .  164

The Silver Map of the World  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  171

Captain James Cook   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  180

The Ice Islands  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  194

The Death of Cook  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  205

Departure of the _Columbia_ and the _Lady Washington_  . . .  211

Charles Bulfinch   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  212

Medals commemorating _Columbia_ and _Lady Washington_ Cruise  215

Building the First American Ship on the Pacific Coast  . . .  223

Feather Cloak worn by a son of a Hawaiian Chief, at the
  celebration in honor of Gray's return  . . . . . . . . . .  226

John Derby   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  228

Map of Gray's two voyages, resulting in the discovery
  of the Columbia  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  231

A View of the Columbia River   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  237

At the Mouth of the Columbia River   . . . . . . . . . . . .  239

Ledyard in his Dugout  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  244

Captain George Vancouver   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  265

The _Columbia_ in a Squall   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  269

The _Discovery_ on the Rocks   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  274

Indian Settlement at Nootka  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  276

Reindeer Herd in Siberia   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  288

Raised Reindeer Sledges  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  294

John Jacob Astor   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  303

Sitka from the Sea   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  314

Alexander Baranof  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  317





Vikings of the Pacific




Peter the Great sends Bering on Two Voyages: First, to discover whether
America and Asia are united; Second, to find what lies north of New
Spain--Terrible Hardships of Caravans crossing Siberia for Seven
Thousand Miles--Ships lost in the Mist--Bering's Crew cast away on a
Barren Isle

We have become such slaves of shallow science in these days, such firm
believers in the fatalism which declares man the creature of
circumstance, that we have almost forgotten the supremest spectacle in
life is when man becomes the Creator of Circumstance.  We forget that
man can rise to be master of his destiny, fighting, unmaking,
re-creating, not only his own environment, but the environment of
multitudinous lesser men.  There is something titanic in such lives.
They are the hero myths of every nation's legends.  We {4} somehow feel
that the man who flings off the handicaps of birth and station lifts
the whole human race to a higher plane and has a bit of the God in him,
though the hero may have feet of clay and body of beast.  Such were the
old Vikings of the North, who spent their lives in elemental warfare,
and rode out to meet death in tempest, lashed to the spar of their
craft.  And such, too, were the New World Vikings of the Pacific, who
coasted the seas of two continents in cockle-shell ships,--planks
lashed with deer thongs, calked with moss,--rapacious in their deep-sea
plunderings as beasts of prey, fearless as the very spirit of the storm
itself.  The adventures of the North Pacific Vikings read more like
some old legend of the sea than sober truth; and the wild strain had
its fountain-head in the most tempestuous hero and beastlike man that
ever ascended the throne of the Russias.

[Illustration: Peter the Great.]

When Peter the Great of Russia worked as a ship's carpenter at the
docks of the East India Company in Amsterdam, the sailors' tales of
vast, undiscovered lands beyond the seas of Japan must have acted on
his imagination like a match to gunpowder.[1]  Already he was dreaming
those imperial conquests which Russia still dreams: of pushing his
realm to the southernmost edge of Europe, to the easternmost verge of
Asia, to the doorway of the Arctic, to the very threshold of the {5}
Chinese capital.  Already his Cossacks had scoured the two Siberias
like birds of prey, exacting tribute from the wandering tribes of
Tartary, of Kamchatka, of the Pacific, of the Siberian races in the
northeasternmost corner of Asia.  And these Chukchee Indians of the
Asiatic Pacific told the Russians of a land beyond the sea, of
driftwood floating across the ocean unlike any trees growing in Asia,
of dead whales washed ashore with the harpoons of strange hunters, {6}
and--most comical of all in the light of our modern knowledge about the
Eskimo's tail-shaped fur coats--of men wrecked on the shores of Asia
who might have qualified for Darwin's missing link, inasmuch as they
wore "tails."

And now the sailors added yet more fabulous things to Peter's
knowledge.  There was an unknown continent east of Asia, west of
America, called on the maps "Gamaland." [2]  Now, Peter's consuming
ambition was for new worlds to conquer.  What of this "Gamaland"?  But,
as the world knows, Peter was called home to suppress an insurrection.
War, domestic broils, massacres that left a bloody stain on his glory,
busied his hands for the remaining years of his life; and January of
1725 found the palaces of all the Russias hushed, for the Hercules who
had scrunched all opposition like a giant lay dying, ashamed to consult
a physician, vanquished of his own vices, calling on Heaven for pity
with screams of pain that drove physicians and attendants from the room.

Perhaps remorse for those seven thousand wretches executed at one fell
swoop after the revolt; perhaps memories of those twenty kneeling
supplicants whose heads he had struck off with his own hand, drinking a
bumper of quass to each stroke; perhaps reproaches {7} of the highway
robbers whom he used to torture to slow death, two hundred at a time,
by suspending them from hooks in their sides; perhaps the first wife,
whom he repudiated, the first son whom he had done to death either by
poison or convulsions of fright, came to haunt the darkness of his

Catherine, the peasant girl, elevated to be empress of all the Russias,
could avail nothing.  Physicians and scientists and navigators, Dane
and English and Dutch, whom he had brought to Russia from all parts of
Europe, were powerless.  Vows to Heaven, in all the long hours he lay
convulsed battling with Death, were useless.  The sins of a lifetime
could not be undone by the repentance of an hour.  Then, as if the
dauntless Spirit of the man must rise finally triumphant over Flesh,
the dying Hercules roused himself to one last supreme effort.

Radisson, Marquette, La Salle, Vérendrye, were reaching across America
to win the undiscovered regions of the Western Sea for France.  New
Spain was pushing her ships northward from Mexico; and now, the dying
Peter of Russia with his own hand wrote instructions for an expedition
to search the boundaries between Asia and America.  In a word, he set
in motion that forward march of the Russians across the Orient, which
was to go on unchecked for two hundred years till arrested by the
Japanese.  The Czar's instructions were always laconic.  They were
written five weeks before his death.  "(1) At {8} Kamchatka . . . two
boats are to be built.  (2) With these you are to sail northward along
the coast. . . .  (3) You are to enquire where the American coast
begins. . . .  Write it down . . . obtain reliable information . . .
then, having charted the coast, return." [3]

From the time that Peter the Great began to break down the Oriental
isolation of Russia from the rest of Europe, it was his policy to draw
to St. Petersburg--the city of his own creation--leaders of thought
from every capital in Europe.  And as his aim was to establish a navy,
he especially endeavored to attract foreign navigators to his kingdom.
Among these were many Norse and Danes.  The acquaintance may have dated
from the apprenticeship on the docks of the East India Company; but at
any rate, among the foreign navigators was one Vitus Ivanovich Bering,
a Dane of humble origin from Horsens,[4] who had been an East India
Company sailor till he joined the Russian fleet as sub-lieutenant at
the age of twenty-two, and fought his way up in the Baltic service
through Peter's wars till in 1720 he was appointed captain of second
rank.  To Vitus Bering, the Dane, Peter gave the commission for the
exploration of the waters between Asia and America.  As a sailor,
Bering had, of course, been on the borders of the Pacific.[5]

{9} The scientists of every city in Europe were in a fret over the
mythical Straits of Anian, supposed to be between Asia and America, and
over the yet more mythical Gamaland, supposed to be visible on the way
to New Spain.  To all this jangling of words without knowledge Peter
paid no heed.  "You will go and obtain some reliable information," he
commands Bering.  Neither did he pay any heed to the fact that the
ports of Kamchatka on the Pacific were six thousand miles by river and
mountain and tundra and desert through an unknown country from St.
Petersburg.  It would take from three to five years to transport
material across two continents by caravan and flatboat and dog sled.
Tribute of food and fur would be required from Kurd and Tartar and wild
Siberian tribe.  More than a thousand horses must be requisitioned for
the caravans; more than two thousand leathern sacks made for the flour.
Twenty or thirty boats must be constructed to raft down the inland
rivers.  There were forests to be traversed for hundreds of miles,
where only the keenest vigilance could keep the wolf packs off the
heels of the travellers.  And when the expedition should reach the
tundras of eastern Siberia, there was the double danger of the Chukchee
tribes on the north, hostile as the American Indians, and of the
Siberian exile population on the south, branded criminals, political
malcontents, banditti of {10} the wilderness, outcasts of nameless
crimes beyond the pale of law.  It needed no prophet to foresee such
people would thwart, not help, the expedition.  And when the shores of
Okhotsk were reached, a fort must be built to winter there.  And a
vessel for inland seas must be constructed to cross to the Kamchatka
peninsula of the North Pacific.  And the peninsula which sticks out
from Asia as Norway projects from Europe, must be crossed with
provisions--a distance of some two hundred miles by dog trains over
mountains higher than the American Rockies.  And once on the shores of
the Pacific itself, another fort must be built on the east side of the
Kamchatka peninsula.  And the two double-decker vessels must be
constructed to voyage over the sleepy swell of the North Pacific to
that mythical realm of mist like a blanket, and strange, unearthly
rumblings smoking up from the cold Arctic sea, with the red light of a
flame through the gray haze, and weird voices, as if the fog wraith
were luring seamen to destruction.  These were mere details.  Peter
took no heed of impossibles.  Neither did Bering; for he was in the
prime of his honor, forty-four years of age.  "You will go," commanded
the Czar, and Bering obeyed.

Barely had the spirit of Peter the Great passed from this life, in
1725, when Bering's forces were travelling in midwinter from St.
Petersburg to cross Siberia to the Pacific, on what is known as the
First Expedition.[6]  {11} Three years it took him to go from the west
coast of Europe to the east coast of Asia, crossing from Okhotsk to
Kamchatka, whence he sailed on the 9th of July, 1728, with forty-four
men and three lieutenants for the Arctic seas.[7]  This voyage is
unimportant, except as the kernel out of which grew the most famous
expedition on the Pacific coast.  Martin Spanberg, another Danish
navigator, huge of frame, vehement, passionate, tyrannical out
dauntless, always followed by a giant hound ready to tear any one who
approached to pieces, and Alexei Chirikoff, an able Russian, were
seconds in command.  They encountered all the difficulties to be
expected transporting ships, rigging, and provisions across two
continents.  Spanberg and his men, winter-bound in East Siberia, were
reduced to eating their dog harness and shoe-straps for food before
they came to the trail of dead horses that marked Bering's path to the
sea, and guided them to the fort at Okhotsk.

Bering did exactly as Czar Peter had ordered.  He built the two-deckers
at Kamchatka.  Then he followed the coast northward past St. Lawrence
Island, which he named, to a point where the shore seemed to turn back
on itself northwestward at 67 degrees 18 minutes, which proved to
Bering that Asia and America were _not_ {12} united.[8]  And they had
found no "Gamaland," no new world wedged in between Asia and America,
Twice they were within only forty miles of America, touching at St.
Lawrence Island, but the fog hung like a blanket over the sea as they
passed through the waters now known as Bering Straits.  They saw no
continent eastward; and Bering was compelled to return with no
knowledge but that Russia did _not_ extend into America.  And yet,
there were definite signs of land eastward of Kamchatka--driftwood,
seaweed, sea-birds.  Before setting out for St. Petersburg in 1729, he
had again tried to sail eastward to the Gamaland of the maps, but again
foul weather had driven him back.

It was the old story of the savants and Christopher Columbus in an
earlier day.  Bering's conclusions were different from the moonshine of
the schools.  There was no "Gamaland" in the sea.  There was in the
maps.  The learned men of St. Petersburg ridiculed the Danish sailor.
The fog was supposed to have concealed "Gamaland."  There was nothing
for Bering but to retire in ignominy or prove his conclusions.  He had
arrived in St. Petersburg in March, 1730.  He had induced the court to
undertake a second expedition by April of the same year.[9]

{13} And for this second expedition, the court, the senate the
admiralty, and the academy of sciences decided to provide with a lavish
profusion that would dazzle the world with the brilliancy of Russian
exploits.  Russia was in the mood to do things.  The young savants who
thronged her capital were heady with visionary theories that were to
astonish the rest of mortals.  Scientists,  artisans,  physicians,
monks, Cossacks, historians, made up the motley roll of conflicting
influences under Bering's command; but because Bering was a Dane, this
command was not supreme.  He must convene a council of the Russian
officers under him, submit all his plans to their vote, then abide by
their decision.  Yet he alone must carry responsibility for blunders.
And as the days went on, details of instructions rolling out from
admiralty, senate, and academy were like an avalanche gathering impetus
to destruction from its weight.  He was to establish new industries in
Siberia.  He was to chart the whole Arctic coast line of Asia.  He was
to Christianize the natives.  He was to provide the travelling
academicians with luxurious equipment, though some of them had forty
wagon-loads of instruments and carried a peripatetic library.

Early in 1733, the Second Expedition set out from St. Petersburg in
detachments to cross Siberia.  There were Vitus Bering, the commander,
Chirikoff and Spanberg, his two seconds, eight lieutenants, sixteen
mates, twelve physicians, seven priests, carpenters, {14} bakers,
Cossacks, sailors,--in all, five hundred and eighty men.[10]  Now, if
it was difficult to transport a handful of attendants across Siberia
for the first simple voyage, what was it to convoy this rabble composed
of self-important scientists bent on proving impossible theories, of
underling officers each of whom considered himself a czar, of wives and
children unused to such travel, of priests whose piety took the
extraordinary form of knouting subordinates to death, of Cossacks who
drank and gambled and brawled at every stopping place till half the
lieutenants in the company had crossed swords in duels, of workmen who
looked on the venture as a mad banishment, and only watched for a
chance to desert?

Scouts went scurrying ahead with orders for the Siberian Cossacks to
prepare wintering quarters for the on-coming host, and to levy tribute
on the inhabitants for provision; but in Siberia, as the Russians say,
"_God is high in the Heaven, and the Czar is far away_;" and the
Siberian governors raised not a finger to prepare for Bering.

Spanberg left St. Petersburg in February, 1733.  Bering followed in
March; and all summer the long caravans of slow-moving pack horses--as
many as four thousand in a line--wound across the desert wastes of West

{15} Only the academists dallied in St. Petersburg, kissing Majesty's
hand farewell, basking in the sudden sunburst of short notoriety,
driving Bering almost mad by their exorbitant demands for luxuriously
appointed barges to carry them down the Volga.  Winter was passed at
Tobolsk; but May of 1734 witnessed a firing of cannon, a blaring of
trumpets, a clinking of merry glasses among merry gentlemen; for the
caravans were setting out once more to the swearing of the Cossacks,
the complaining of the scientists, the brawling of the underling
officers, the silent chagrin of the endlessly patient Bering.  One can
easily believe that the God-speed from the Siberians was sincere; for
the local governors used the orders for tribute to enrich themselves;
and the country-side groaned under a heavy burden of extortion.  The
second winter was passed at Yakutsk, where the ships that were to chart
the Arctic coast of Siberia were built and launched with crews of some
hundred men.

It was the end of June, 1735, before the main forces were under way
again for the Pacific.  From Yakutsk to Okhotsk on the Pacific, the
course was down the Lena, up the Aldan River, up the Maya, up the
Yudoma, across the Stanovoi Mountains, down the Urak river to the sea.
A thousand Siberian exiles were compelled to convoy these boats.[11]
Not a roof had been prepared to house the forces in the mountains.  Men
and horses were torn to pieces by the timber {16} wolves.  Often, for
days at a time, the only rations were carcasses of dead horses, roots,
flour, and rice.  Winter barracks had to be built between the rivers,
for the navigable season was short.  In May the rivers broke up in
spring flood.  Then, the course was against a boiling torrent.  Thirty
men could not tug a boat up the Yudoma.  They stood in ice-water up to
their waists lifting the barges over the turbulent places.  Sores broke
out on the feet of horses and men.  Three years it took to transport
all the supplies and ships' rigging from the Lena to the Pacific, with
wintering barracks constructed at each stopping place.

At Okhotsk on the Pacific, Major-General Pissarjeff was harbor master.
This old reprobate, once a favorite of Peter the Great, had been
knouted, branded and exiled for conspiracy, forbidden even to conceal
his brand; and now, he let loose all his seventy years of bitterness on
Bering.  He not only had _not_ made preparation to house the explorers;
but he refused to permit them inside the stockades of the miserable
huts at Okhotsk, which he called his fort.  When they built a fort of
their own outside, he set himself to tantalize the two Danes, Bering
and Spanberg, knouting their men, sending coureurs with false
accusations against Bering to St. Petersburg, actually countermanding
their orders for supplies from the Cossacks.  Spanberg would have
finished the matter neatly with a sharp sword; but Bering forbore, and
Pissarjeff {17} was ultimately replaced by a better harbor master.  The
men set to work cutting the timber for the ships that were to cross
from Okhotsk to the east shore of Kamchatka; for Bering's ships of the
first voyage could now be used only as packet boats.

Not till the fourth of June, 1741, had all preparations ripened for the
fulfilment of Czar Peter's dying wishes to extend his empire into
America.  Two vessels, the _St. Peter_ and the _St. Paul_, rode at
anchor at Petropaulovsk in the Bay of Avacha on the east coast of
Kamchatka.  On the shore was a little palisaded fort of some fifty
huts, a barrack, a chapel, a powder magazine.  Early that morning,
solemn religious services had been held to invoke the blessing of
Heaven on the voyagers.  Now, the chapel bell was set ringing.  Monks
came singing down to the water's edge.  Cannon were fired.  Cheer on
cheer set the echoes rolling among the white domed mountains.  There
was a rattling of anchor chains, a creaking of masts and yard-arms.
The sails fluttered out bellying full; and with a last, long shout, the
ships glided out before the wind to the lazy swell of the Pacific for
the discovery of new worlds.

And why not new worlds?  That was the question the officers
accompanying Bering asked themselves as the white peaks of Kamchatka
faded on the offing.  Certainly, in the history of the world, no
expedition had set out with greater prestige.  Eight years had it {18}
taken to cross Siberia from St. Petersburg to the Pacific.  A line of
forts across two continents had been built for winter quarters.  Rivers
had been bridged; as many as forty boats knocked together in a single
year to raft down the Siberian torrents.  Two hundred thousand dollars
in modern money had been spent before the Pacific was reached.  In all,
nine ships had been built on the Pacific to freight supplies across
from Okhotsk to the eastern side of Kamchatka, two to carry Bering to
the new continent of "Gamaland" which the savants persisted in putting
on the maps, three to explore the region between Russia and Japan.
Now, Bering knew there was _no_ "Gamaland" except in the ignorant,
heady imaginings of the foolish geographers.  So did Alexei Chirikoff,
the Russian second assistant.  So did Spanberg, the Dane, third in
command, who had coasted the Pacific in charting Japan.

Roughly speaking, the expedition had gradually focussed to three
points: (1) the charting of the Arctic coast; (2) the exploration of
Japan; (3) the finding of what lay between Asia and America.  Some two
hundred men, of whom a score had already perished of scurvy, had gone
down the Siberian rivers to the Arctic coast.  Spanberg, the Dane, with
a hundred others, had thoroughly charted Japan, and had seen his
results vetoed by the authorities at St. Petersburg because there was
no Gamaland.  Bering, himself, undertook the voyage to America.  All
the month of {19} May, council after council had been held at Avacha
Bay to determine which way Bering's two ships should sail.  By the vote
of this council, Bering, the commander, was compelled to abide; and the
mythical Gamaland proved his evil star.

The maps of the D'Isles, the famous geographers, contained a Gamaland;
and Louis la Croyére d'Isle, relative of the great map maker, who had
knocked about in Canada and was thought to be an authority on American
matters, was to accompany Chirikoff, Bering's first lieutenant.  At the
councils, these maps were hauled out.  It was a matter of family pride
with the D'Isles to find that Gamaland.  Bering and Chirikoff may have
cursed all scientists, as Cook, the great navigator, cursed savants at
a later day; but they must bow to the decision of the council; and the
decision was to sail south-southeast for Gamaland.  And yet, there
could have been no bitterness in Bering's feelings; for he knew that
the truth must triumph.  He would be vindicated, whatever came; and the
spell of the North was upon him with its magic beckoning on--on--on to
the unknown, to the unexplored, to the undreamed.  All that the
discoveries of Columbus gave to the world, Bering's voyage might give
to Russia; for he did _not_ know that the La Vérendryes of New France
had already penetrated west as far as the Rockies; and he did know that
half a continent yet lay unexplored, unclaimed, on the other side of
the Pacific.


[Illustration: Map of Course followed by Bering.]

But with boats that carried only one hundred casks of water, and
provisions for but five months, the decision to sail south-southeast
was a deplorable waste of precious time.  It would lead to the Spanish
possessions, not to the unknown North.  On Bering's boat, the _St.
Peter_, was a crew of seventy-seven, Lieutenant Waxel, second in
command, George William Steller, the famous scientist, Bering's friend,
on board.  On the _St. Paul_, under the stanch, level-headed Russian
lieutenant, Alexei Chirikoff, were seventy-six men, with La Croyére
d'Isle as astronomer.  Not the least {21} complicating feature of the
case was the personnel of the crews.  For the most part, they were
branded criminals and malcontents.  From the first they had regarded
the Bering expedition with horror.  They had joined it under compulsion
for only six years; and the exploration was now in its eleventh year.
Spanberg, the other Dane, with his brutal tongue and constant recourse
to the knout, who had gone to St. Petersburg to report on Japan, they
cordially hated.  Chirikoff, the Russian, was a universal favorite, and
Bering, the supreme commander, was loved for his {22} kindness; but
Bering's commands were subject to veto by the Russian underlings; and
the Russian underling officers kept up a constant brawl of duels and
gaming and drink.  No wonder the bluff Dane sailed out from the
snow-rimmed peaks of Avacha Bay with dark forebodings.  He had carried
a load of petty instructions issued by ignoramus savants for eight
years.  He had borne eight years of nagging from court and senate and
academy.  He had been criticised for blunders of others' making.  He
had been set to accomplish a Herculean task with tied hands.  He had
been threatened with fines and court martial for the delay caused by
the quarrels of his under officers to whom he was subject.  He had been
deprived of salary for three years and accused of pilfering from public
funds.  His wife, who had by this time returned with the wives of the
other officers to Russia, had actually been searched for hidden
booty.[12]  And now, after toils and hardships untold, only five
months' provisions were left for the ships sailing from Kamchatka; and
the blockhead underlings were compelling a waste of those provisions by
sailing in the wrong direction.  If the worst came, could Bering hold
his men with those tied hands of his?

The commander shrugged his shoulders and signalled Chirikoff, the
Russian, on the _St. Paul_, to lead the way.  They must find out there
was no Gamaland {23} for themselves, those obstinate Russians!  The
long swell of the Pacific meets them as they sheer out from the
mountain-girt harbor.  A dip of the sails to the swell of the rising
wind, and the snowy heights of Avacha Bay are left on the offing.  The
thunder of the surf against the rocky caves of Kamchatka coast fades
fainter.  The myriad birds become fewer.  Steller, the scientist, leans
over the rail to listen if the huge sperm whale, there, "hums" as it
"blows."  The white rollers come from the north, rolling--rolling down
to the tropics.  A gray thing hangs over the northern offing, a grayish
brown thing called "fog" of which they will know more anon.  The
grayish brown thing means storm; and the "porps" tumbling, floundering,
somerseting round the ships in circles, mean storm; and Chirikoff, far
ahead there, signals back doubtfully to know if they shouldn't keep
together to avoid being lost in the gathering fog.  The Dane shrugs his
shoulders and looks to the north.  The grayish brown thing has
darkened, thickened, spread out impalpably, and by the third day, a
northling wind is whistling through the riggings with a rip.  Sails are
furled.  The white rollers roll no longer.  They lash with chopped-off
tops flying backward; and the _St. Peter_ is churning about, shipping
sea after sea with the crash of thunder.  That was what the fog meant;
and it is all about them, in a hurricane now, stinging cold, thick to
the touch, washing out every outline but sea--sea!

{24} Never mind!  They are nine days out.  It is the twelfth of June.
They are down to 46 degrees and no Gamaland!  The blockheads have
stopped spreading their maps in the captain's cabin.  One can see a
smile wreathing in the whiskers of the Dane.  Six hundred miles south
of Kamchatka and no Gamaland!  The council convenes again.  It is
decided to turn about, head north, and say no more of Gamaland.  But
when the fog, that has turned hurricane, lifts, the consort ship, the
_St. Paul_, is lost.  Chirikoff's vessel has disappeared.  Up to 49
degrees, they go; but still no Chirikoff, and no Gamaland!  Then the
blunder-makers, as usual, blunder more.  It is dangerous to go on
without the sister ship.  The council convenes.  Bering must hark back
to 46 degrees and hunt for Chirikoff.  So passes the whole month of
June.  Out of five months' provisions, one wasted, the odium on Bering,
the Dane.

It was noticed that after the ship turned south, the commander looked
ill and depressed.  He became intolerant of opposition or approach.
Possibly to avoid irritation, he kept to his cabin; but he issued
peremptory orders for the _St. Peter_ to head back north.

In a few days, Bering was confined to bed with that overwhelming
physical depression and fear, that precede the scourge most dreaded by
seamen--scurvy.  Lieutenant Waxel now took command.  Waxel had all a
sailor's contempt for the bookful blockheads, who wrench fact to fit
theory; and deadly enmity arose {25} between him and Steller, the
scientist.  By the middle of July, the fetid drinking water was so
reduced that the crew was put on half allowance; but on the sleepy,
fog-blanketed swell of the Pacific slipping past Bering's wearied eyes,
there were so many signs of land--birds, driftwood, seaweed--that the
commander ordered the ship hove to each night for fear of grounding.

On the thirteenth of July, the council of underlings had so far
relinquished all idea of a Gamaland, that it was decided to steer
continuously north.  Sometime between the 16th and 20th, the fog lifted
like a curtain.  Such a vision met the gaze of the stolid seamen as
stirred the blood of those phlegmatic Russians.  It was the
consummation of all their labor, what they had toiled across Siberia to
see, what they had hoped against hope in spite of the learned jargon of
the geographers.  There loomed above the far horizon of the north sea
what might have been an immense opal dome suspended in mid-heaven.  One
can guess how the lookout strained keen eyes at this grand, crumpled
apex of snow jagged through the clouds like the celestial tent peak of
some giant race; how the shout of "land" went up, how officers and
underlings flocked round Bering with cries and congratulations.  "We
knew it was land beyond a doubt on the sixteenth," says Steller.
"Though I have been in Kamchatka, I have never seen more lofty
mountains."  The shore was broken everywhere, showing inlets and
harbors.  {26} Everybody congratulated the commander, but he only
shrugged shoulders, saying: "We think we've done big things, eh? but
who knows?  Nobody realizes where this is, or the distance we must sail
back.  Winds may be contrary.  We don't know this land; and we haven't
provisions to winter."

The truth is--the maps having failed, Bering was good enough seaman to
know these uncharted signs of a continent indicated that the _St.
Peter_ was hopelessly lost.  Sixteen years of nagging care, harder to
face than a line of cannon, had sucked Bering's capacity of resistance
like a vampire.  That buoyancy, which lifts man above Anxious Fright,
had been sapped.  The shadowy elemental powers--physical weakness,
disease, despair--were closing round the explorer like the waves of an
eternal sea.

The boat found itself in a wonder world, that beggared romance.  The
great peak, which they named St. Elias, hung above a snowy row of
lesser ridges in a dome of alabaster.  Icebergs, like floating palaces,
came washing down from the long line of precipitous shore.  As they
neared anchorage at an island now known as Kyak, they could see billows
of ferns, grasses, lady's slippers, rhododendrons, bluebells,
forget-me-nots, rippling in the wind.  Perhaps they saw those palisades
of ice, that stretch like a rampart northward along the main shore west
of St. Elias.

The _St. Peter_ moved slowly landward against a head wind.  Khitroff
and Steller put off in the small {27} boats with fifteen men to
reconnoitre.  Both found traces of inhabitants--timbered huts, fire
holes, shells, smoked fish, footprints in the grass.  Steller left some
kettles, knives, glass beads, and trinkets in the huts to replace the
possessions of the natives, which the Russians took.  Many years later,
another voyager met an old Indian, who told of seeing Bering's ship
anchor at Kyak Island when he was a boy; but the terrified Indians had
fled, only returning to find the presents in the huts, when the
Russians had gone.[13]  Steller was as wild as a child out of school,
and accompanied by only one Cossack went bounding over the island
collecting specimens and botanizing.  Khitroff, meanwhile, filled
water-casks; but on July 21, the day after the anchorage, a storm-wind
began whistling through the rigging.  The rollers came washing down
from the ice wall of the coast and the far offing showed the dirty fog
that portended storm.  Only half the water-casks had been filled; but
there was a brisk seaward breeze.  Without warning, contrary to his
custom of consulting the other officers, Bering appeared on deck pallid
and ashen from disease, and peremptorily ordered anchors up.

In vain Steller stormed and swore, accusing the chief of pusillanimous
homesickness, "of reducing his explorations to a six hours' anchorage
on an island shore," "of coming from Asia to carry home American
water."  The commander had had enough of {28} vacillation, delay,
interference.  One-third of the crew was ailing.  Provisions for only
three months were in the hold.  The ship was off any known course more
than two thousand miles from any known port; and contrary winds might
cause delay or drive the vessel on the countless reefs that lined this
strange coast, like a ploughed field.

Dense clouds and a sleety rain settled over the sea, washing out every
outline, as the _St. Peter_ began her westward course.  But what
baffled both Bering and the officers was the fact that the coast
trended, not north, but south.  They were coasting that long peninsula
of Alaska that projects an arm for a thousand miles southwestward into
the Pacific.

The roar of the rollers came from the reefs.  Through the blanketing
fog they could discern, on the north, island after island, ghostlike
through the mist, rocky, towering, majestic, with a thunder of surf
among the caves, a dim outline of mountains above, like Loki, Spirit of
Evil, smiling stonily at the dark forces closing round these puny men.
All along Kadiak, the roily waters told of reefs.  The air was heavy
with fogs thick to the touch; and violent winds constantly threatened a
sudden shift that might drive the vessel on the rocks.  At midnight on
August 1, they suddenly found themselves with only three feet of water
below the keel.  Fortunately there was no wind, but the fog was like
ink.  By swinging into a current, that ran a mill-race, they were
carried out to eighteen fathoms {29} of water, where they anchored till
daybreak.  They called this place Foggy Island.  To-day it is known as

[Illustration: The _St. Peter_ and _St. Paul_, from a rough sketch by
Bering's comrade, Steller, the scientist.]

The underlings now came sharply to their senses and, at the repeatedly
convened and distracted councils between July 25 and August 10, decided
that there was only one thing to do--sail at once for the home port of
Kamchatka.  The _St. Peter_ was tossing about in frightful winds among
reefs and hurricane fog like a cork.  Half the crew lay ill and
helpless of scurvy, {30} and only two months' provisions remained for a
voyage of two thousand miles.  The whole crew signed the resolution to
go home.

Only twenty-five casks of water remained.  On August 30 the _St. Peter_
anchored off a group of thirteen bald, bare, treeless rocks.  It was
thought that if some of the scurvy-stricken sailors could be carried
ashore, they might recover.  One, Shumagin, died as he was lifted
ashore.  This was the first death, and his name was given to the
islands.  Bering himself was so ill he could not stand.  Twenty
emaciated men were laid along the shore.  Steller hurried off to hunt
anti-scorbutic plants, while Waxel, who had taken command, and Khitroff
ordered the water-casks filled.  Unfortunately the only pool they could
find was connected with an arm of the sea.  The water was brackish, and
this afterward increased disease.

A fatality seemed to hang over the wonder world where they wandered.
Voices were heard in the storm, rumblings from the sea.  Fire could be
seen through the fog.  Was this fire from volcanoes or Indians?  And
such a tide-rip thundered along the rocks as shook the earth and set
the ship trembling.  Waxel knew they must not risk delay by going to
explore, but by applying to Bering, who lay in his berth unconscious of
the dangers on this coast, Khitroff gained permission to go from the
vessel on a yawl with five sailors; but by the time he had rowed
against head winds to the scene of the fire, the Indians had {31} fled,
and such beach combers were crashing ashore, Khitroff dare not risk
going back to the ship.  In vain Waxel ground his teeth with rage,
signalled, and waited.  "The wind seemed to issue from a flue," says
Steller, "with such a whistling and roaring and rumbling that we
expected to lose mast and rudder, or be crushed among the breakers.
The dashings of the sea sounded like a cannon."

The fact was, Khitroff's yawl had been smashed to kindling wood against
the rocks; and the six half-drowned Russians were huddling together
waiting for help when Waxel took the other small boat and went to the
rescue.  Barely had this been effected at the cost of four days' delay,
in which the ship might have made five hundred miles toward home, when
natives were seen paddling out in canoes, gesticulating for the white
men to come ashore.  Waxel lowered away in the small boat with nine
armed men to pay the savages a visit.  Close ashore, he beckoned the
Indians to wade out; but they signalled him in turn to land, and he
ordered three men out to moor the boat to a rock.  All went well
between Russians and Indians, presents being exchanged, till a chief
screwed up his courage to paddle out to Waxel in the boat.  With
characteristic hospitality, Waxel at once proffered some Russian
brandy, which, by courtesy among all Western sailors, is always known
as "chain lightning."  The chief took but one gulp of the liquid fire,
when with a wild yell he spat it out, shouted that he had been
poisoned, and dashed ashore.

{32} The three Russians succeeded in gaining Waxel's boat, but the
Indians grabbed the mooring ropes and seized the Chukchee interpreter,
whom Waxel had brought from Siberia.  Waxel ordered the rope cut, but
the Chukchee interpreter called out pitifully to be saved.  Quick as
flash, the Russians fired two muskets in midair.  At the crash that
echoed among the cliffs, the Indians fell prostrate with fear, and the
interpreter escaped; but six days had been wasted in this futile visit
to the natives.

Scarcely had they escaped this island, when such a hurricane broke over
the _St. Peter_ for seventeen days that the ship could only scud under
bare poles before a tornado wind that seemed to be driving
north-northwest.  The ship was a chip in a maelstrom.  There were only
fifteen casks of water fit to drink.  All food was exhausted but mouldy
sea-biscuits.  One sailor a day was now dying of scurvy, and those left
were so weak that they had no power to man the ship.  The sailors were
so emaciated they had to be carried back and forward to the rudder, and
the underling officers were quarrelling among themselves.  The crew
dared not hoist sails, because not a man of the _St. Peter_ had the
physical strength to climb and lower canvas.[14]

{33} The rain turned to sleet.  The sleet froze to the rotting sails,
to the ice-logged hull, to the wan yardarms frost-white like ghosts.
At every lurch of the sea slush slithered down from the rigging on the
shivering seamen.  The roar of the breakers told of a shallow sea, yet
mist veiled the sky, and they were above waters whose shallows drop to
sudden abysmal depths of three thousand fathoms.  Sheets of smoking
vapor rose from the sea, sheets of flame-tinged smoke from the
crevasses of land volcanoes which the fogs hid.  Out of the sea came
the hoarse, strident cry of the sea-lion, and the walrus, and the hairy
seal.  It was as if the poor Russians had sailed into some under-world.
The decks were slippery as glass, the vessel shrouded in ice.  Over all
settled that unspeakable dread of impending disaster, which is a
symptom of scurvy, and saps the fight that makes a man fit to survive.

Waxel, alone, held the vessel up to the wind.  Where were they?  Why
did this coasting along unknown northern islands not lead to Kamchatka?

The councils were no longer the orderly conferences of savants over
cut-and-dried maps.  They were bedlam.  Panic was in the marrow of
every man, even the passionate Steller, who thought all the while they
were on the coast of Kamchatka and made loud complaint that the
expedition had been misled by "unscrupulous leaders."

At eight o'clock on the morning of October 30 it was seen that the
ice-clogged ropes on the starboard {34} side had been snapped by the
wind like dry sticks.  Offerings, vows, prayers went up from the
stricken crew.  Piety became a very real thing.  The men prayed aloud
and conferred on ways to win the favor of God.  The colder weather
brought one relief.  The fog lifted and the air was clear.  The wind
veered northeast, and on November 4, to their inexpressible joy, a dim
outline sharpened to hard, clear horizon; and the gazing crew gradually
saw a high, mountainous coast become clear beyond doubt directly ahead
sixteen miles.  Surely, this was Kamchatka?  Surely, God had heard
their vows?  The sick crawled on hands and knees above the hatchway to
see land once more, and with streaming eyes thanked Heaven for the
escape from doom.  Grief became joy; gruff, happy, hilarious laughter;
for a few hidden casks of brandy were brought out to celebrate the end
of their miseries, and each man began pointing out certain headlands
that he thought he recognized.  But this ecstasy was fool joy born of
desperation.  As the ship rounded northeastward, a strangeness came
over the scene; a chill over the good cheer--a numbing, silent,
unspeakable dread over the crew.  These turbulent waters running a
mill-race between reefs looked more like a channel between two islands
than open coast.  The men could not utter a word.  They hoped against
hope.  They dare not voice their fears.  That night, the _St. Peter_
stood off from land in case of storm.  Topsails were furled, and the
wind had ripped the other {35} sails to tatters, that flared and beat
dismally all night against the cordage.  One can imagine the anxiety of
that long night with the roar of the breakers echoing angrily from
shore, the whistle of the wind through the rotten rigging, the creaking
of the timbers to the crash and growl and rebound of the tide.  Clear,
refulgent with sunshine like the light of creation's first day, the
sting of ozone in the air, and the freshness of a scene never before
witnessed by human eyes--dawned the morning of November 5.

The shore was of black, adamant rock rising sheer from the sea in a
rampart wall.  Reefs, serried, rank on rank, like sentinels, guarded
approach to the coast in jagged masses, that would rip the bottom from
any keel like the teeth of a saw; and over these rolled the roaring
breakers with a clutch to the back-wash that bade the gazing sailors
beware.  Birds, birds in myriads upon myriads, screamed and circled
over the eerie heights of the beetling cliffs.  This did not look like
Kamchatka.  These birds were not birds of the Asiatic home port.  These
cliffs were not like the snow-rimmed mountains of Avacha Bay.

Waxel called a council.

Officers and men dragged themselves to Bering's cabin.  Waxel had
already canvassed all hands to vote for a landing to winter on these
shores.  This, the dying Bering opposed with all his might.  "We roust
be almost home," he said.  "We still have six casks of water, and the
_foremast_.  Having risked so {36} much, let us risk three days more,
let us risk everything to reach Avacha Bay."  Poor Bering!  Had his
advice been followed, the saddest disaster of northern seas might have
been averted; for they were less than ten days' run from the home
harbor; but inspired by fool hopes born of fear, like the old marsh
lights that used to lure men to the quicksands--Waxel and Khitroff
actually persuaded themselves this _was_ Kamchatka, and when one
lieutenant, Ofzyn, who knew the north well from charting the Arctic
coast, would have spoken in favor of Bering's view, he was actually
clubbed and thrown from the cabin.  The crew voted as a man to land and
winter on this coast.  Little did they know that vote was their own
death warrant.

[1] See _Life of Peter the Great_, by Orlando Williams, 1859; _Peter
the Great_, by John Lothrop Motley, 1877; _History of Peter I_, by John
Mottley, 1740; _Journal of Peter the Great_, 1698; Voltaire's _Pierre
le Grand_; Ségur's _Histoire de Russie et de Pierre le Grand_.

[2] Who this man _Gama_, supposed to have seen the unknown continent of
Gamaland, was, no one knew.  The Portuguese followed the myth blindly;
and the other geographers followed the Portuguese.  Texeira, court
geographer in Portugal, in 1649 issued a map with a vague coast marked
at latitude 45 degrees north, with the words "Land seen by John de
Gama, Indian, going from China to New Spain."

[3] These instructions were handed to Peter's admiral--Count Apraxin.

[4] Born 1681, son of Jonas and Anna Bering, whom a petition describes,
in 1719, as "old, miserable, decrepit people, no way able to help

[5] He fought in Black Sea wars of 1711; and from lieutenant-captain
became captain of the second rank by 1717, when Russians, jealous of
the foreigner, blocked his promotion.  He demanded promotion or
discharge, and withdrew to Finland, where the Czar's Kamchatkan
expedition called him from retirement.

[6] The expedition left St. Petersburg February 5th.

[7] The midshipman of this voyage was Peter Chaplin, whose journal was
deposited in the Naval College of the Admiralty, St. Petersburg.  Berg
gives a summary of this journal.  A translation by Dall is to be found
in _Appendix 19, Coast Survey, Washington, 1890_.

[8] A great dispute has waged among the finical academists, where the
Serdze Kamen of this trip really was; the Russian observations varying
greatly owing to fog and rude instruments.  _Lauridsen_ quarrels with
_Müller_ on this score.  _Müller_ was one of the theorists whose
wrongheadedness misled Bering.

[9] It was in 1730 that Gvozdef's report of a strange land between 65
degrees and 66 degrees became current.  Whether this land was America,
Gamaland, or Asia, the savants could not know.

[10] It is from the works of _Gmelin_, _Müller_, and _Steller_,
scientists named to accompany the expedition, that the most connected
accounts are obtained.  The "menagerie," some one has called this
collection of scientists.

[11] Many of the workmen died of their hardships at this stage of the

[12] Berg says Bering's two sons, Thomas and Unos, were also with him
in Siberia.

[13] _Sauer_ relates this incident.

[14] See _Müller_, p. 93, 1764 edition: "The men, notwithstanding want,
misery, sickness, were obliged to work continually in the cold and wet,
and the sickness was so dreadful that the sailors who governed the
rudder were obliged to be led to it by others, who could hardly walk.
They durst not carry much sail, because there was nobody to lower them
in case of need, and they were so thin a violent wind would have torn
them to pieces.  The rain now changed to hail and snow."





Frightful Sufferings of the Castaways on the Commander Islands--The
Vessel smashed in a Winter Gale, the Sick are dragged for Refuge into
Pits of Sand--Here, Bering perishes, and the Crew Winter--The Consort
Ship under Chirikoff Ambushed--How the Castaways reach Home

Without pilot or captain, the _St. Peter_ drifted to the swirling current
of the sea along a high, rocky, forbidding coast where beetling
precipices towered sheer two thousand feet above a white fret of reefs,
that gave the ocean the appearance of a ploughed field.  The sick crawled
mutely back to their berths.  Bering was past caring what came and only
semiconscious.  Waxel, who had compelled the crew to vote for landing
here under the impression born of his own despair,--that this was the
coast of Avacha Bay, Kamchatka,--saw with dismay in the shores gliding
past the keel momentary proofs that he was wrong.  Poor Waxel had fought
desperately against the depression that precedes scurvy; but now, with a
dumb hopelessness settling over the ship, the invisible hand of the
scourge {38} was laid on him, too.  He went below decks completely

The underling officers still upon their feet, whose false theories had
led Bering into all this disaster, were now quarrelling furiously among
themselves, blaming one another.  Only Ofzyn, the lieutenant, who had
opposed the landing, and Steller, the scientist, remained on the lookout
with eyes alert for the impending destruction threatened from the white
fret of the endless reefs.  Rocks rose in wild, jagged masses out of the
sea.  Deep V-shaped ravines, shadowy in the rising moonlight, seemed to
recede into the rock wall of the coast, and only where a river poured out
from one of these ravines did there appear to be any gap through the long
lines of reefs where the surf boomed like thunder.  The coast seemed to
trend from northwest to southeast, and might have been from thirty to
fifty miles long, with strange bizarre arches of rock overhanging endless
fields of kelp and seaweed.  The land was absolutely treeless except for
willow brushwood the size of one's finger.  Lichens, moss, sphagnum,
coated the rocks.  Inland appeared nothing but billowing reaches of
sedges and shingle and grass.

[Illustration: Steller's Arch on Bering Island, named after the scientist
Steller, of Bering's Expedition.]

Suddenly Steller noticed that the ebb-tide was causing huge combing
rollers that might dash the ship against the rocks.  Rushing below decks
he besought Bering's permission to sound and anchor.  The early darkness
of those northern latitudes had been followed by moon-light bright as
day.  Within a mile of the east shore, {39} Steller ordered the anchor
dropped, but by this time, the rollers were smashing over decks with a
quaking that seemed to tear the ship asunder.  The sick were hurled from
their berths.  Officers rushed on deck to be swept from their feet by
blasts of salt spray, and just ahead, through the moonlight, could be
seen the sharp edge of a long reef where the beach combers ran with the
tide-rip of a whirlpool.  There is something inexpressibly terrifying
even from a point of safety in these beach combers, clutching their long
arms hungrily for prey.  The confusion of orders and {40} counter-orders,
which no man had strength to carry out, of terrified cries and prayers
and oaths--was indescribable.  The numb hopelessness was succeeded by
sheer panic terror.  Ofzyn threw out a second anchor that raked bottom.
Then, another mountain roller thundering over the ship with a crash--and
the first cable snapped like a pistol shot.  The ship rebounded; then
drove before the back-wash of the angry sea.  With no fate possible but
the wall of rocks ahead, the terrorized crew began heaving the dead
overboard in the moonlight; but another roaring billow smashed the _St.
Peter_ squarely broadside.  The second hawser ripped back with the
whistling rebound of a whip-lash, and Ofzyn was in the very act of
dropping the third and last anchor, when straight as a bullet to the
mark, as if hag-ridden by the northern demons of sailor fear, hurled the
_St. Peter_ for the reef!  A third time the beach combers crashed down
like a falling mountain.  When the booming sheets of blinding spray had
cleared and the panic-stricken sailors could again see, the _St. Peter_
was staggering stern foremost, shore ahead, like a drunken ship.  Quick
as shot, Ofzyn and Steller between them heaved over the last anchor.  The
flukes gripped--raked--then caught--and held.

The ship lay rocking inside a reef in the very centre of a sheltered cove
not six hundred yards from land.  The beach comber had either swept her
through a gap in the reef, or hurled her clear above the reefs into

{41} For seven hours the ship had battled against tide and
counter-current.  Now, at midnight, with the air clear as day, Steller
had the small boat lowered and with another--some say Waxel, others
Pleneser, the artist, or Ofzyn, of the Arctic expedition--rowed ashore to
reconnoitre.  Sometime between the evening of November 5 and the morning
of November 6, their eyes met such a view as might have been witnessed by
an Alexander Selkirk, or Robinson Crusoe.  The exact landing was four or
five miles north of what is now known as Cape Khitroff, below the centre
of the east coast of Bering Island.[1]  Poor Waxel would have it, they
were on the coast of Kamchatka, and spoke of sending messengers for help
to Petropaulovsk on Avacha Bay; but, as they were to learn soon enough,
the nearest point in Kamchatka was one hundred miles across the sea.
Avacha Bay was two hundred miles away.  And the Spanish possessions of
America, three thousand.  They found the landing place literally swarming
with animal life unknown to the world before.  An enormous mammal, more
than three tons in weight, with hind quarters like a whale, snout and
fore fins resembling a cow, grazed in herds on the fields of sea-kelp and
gazed languidly without fear on the newcomer--Man.  This was the famous
sea-cow described by the enthusiastic Steller, but long since extinct.
Blue foxes swarmed round the very feet of the {42} men with such hungry
boldness that half a dozen could be clubbed to death before the others
scampered.  Later, Steller was to see the seal rookeries, that were to
bring so much wealth to the world, the sea-lions that roared along the
rocks till the surf shook, the sea-otter whose rare pelt, more priceless
than beaver or sable, was to cause the exploration and devastation of the
northern half of the Pacific coast.

The land was as it had appeared to the ship--utterly treeless except for
trailing willows.  The brooks were not yet frozen, and snow had barely
powdered the mountains; but where the coves ran in back between the
mountains from the sea were gullies or ditches of sand and sedge.  When
Steller presently found a broken window casing of Kamchatka half buried
in the sand, it gave Waxel some confidence about being on the mainland of
Asia; but before Steller had finished his two days' reconnoitre, there
was no mistaking the fact--this was an island, and a barren one at the
best, without tree or shelter; and here the castaways must winter.

The only provisions now remaining to the crew were grease and mouldy
flour.  Steller at once went to work.  Digging pits in the narrow gullies
of sand, he covered these over with driftwood, the rotten sail-cloth,
moss, mud, and foxskins.  Cracks were then chinked up with clay and more
foxskins.  By the 8th of November he was ready to have the crew landed;
but the ship rolled helpless as a log to the tide, and the few well {43}
men of the staff, without distinction of officers from sailors, had to
stand waist-deep in ice-slush to steady the stretchers made of mast poles
and sail-cloth, that received the sick lowered over decks.  Many of the
scurvy stricken had not been out of their berths for six weeks.  The
fearful depression and weakness, that forewarn scurvy, had been followed
by the pains, the swollen limbs, the blue spots that presage death.  A
spongy excrescence covered the gums.  The teeth loosened.  The slightest
noise was enough to throw the patient into a paroxysm of anguished
fright; and some died on the decks immediately on contact with the
cuttingly cold air.  Others expired as they were lowered to the
stretchers; others, as they were laid along the strip of sandy shore,
where the bold foxes were already devouring the dead and could scarcely
be driven off by the dying.  In this way perished nine of the _St.
Peter's_ crew during the week of the landing.

By November 10, all was in readiness for Bering's removal from the ship.
As the end approached, his irritability subsided to a quieted
cheerfulness; and he could be heard mumbling over thanks to God for the
great success of his early life.  Wrapped in furs, fastened to a
stretcher, the Dane was lowered over the ship, carried ashore, and laid
in a sand pit.  All that day it had been dull and leaden; and just as
Bering was being carried, it began to snow heavily.  Steller occupied the
sand pit next to the commander; and in {44} addition to acting as cook
and physician to the entire crew, became Bering's devoted attendant.

By the 13th of November, a long sand pit had been roofed over as a sort
of hospital with rug floor; and here Steller had the stricken sailors
carried in from the shore.  Poor Waxel, who had fought so bravely, was
himself carried ashore on November 21.

Daily, officers tramped inland exploring; and daily, the different
reconnoitring parties returned with word that not a trace of human
habitation, of wood, or the way to Kamchatka had been discovered.
Another island there was to the east--now known as Copper Island--and two
little islets of rock; but beyond these, nothing could be descried from
the highest mountains but sea--sea.  Bering Island, itself, is some fifty
miles long by ten wide, very high at the south, very swampy at the north;
but the Commander Group is as completely cut off from both Asia and
America as if it were in another world.  The climate was not intensely
cold; but it was so damp, the very clothing rotted; and the gales were so
terrific that the men could only leave the mud huts or _yurts_ by
crawling on all fours; and for the first three weeks after the landing,
blast on blast of northern hurricane swept over the islands.

The poor old ship rode her best at anchor through the violent storms; but
on November 28 she was seen to snap her cable and go staggering drunkenly
to open sea.  The terror of the castaways at this spectacle {45} was
unspeakable.  Their one chance of escape in spring seemed lost; but the
beach combers began rolling landward through the howling storm; and when
next the spectators looked, the _St. Peter_ was driving ashore like a
hurricane ship, and rushed full force, nine feet deep with her prow into
the sands not a pistol shot away from the crew.  The next beach comber
could not budge her.  Wind and tide left her high and dry, fast in the

But what had become of Chirikoff, on board the _St. Paul_, from the 20th
of June, when the vessels were separated by storm?  Would it have been
any easier for Bering if he had known that the consort ship had been
zigzagging all the while less than a week's cruise from the _St. Peter_?
When the storm, which had separated the vessels, subsided, Chirikoff let
the _St. Paul_ drift in the hope that Bering might sight the missing
vessel.  Then he steered southeast to latitude 48 degrees in search of
the commander; but on June 23 a council of officers decided it was a
waste of time to search longer, and ordered the vessel to be headed
northeastward.  The wind was light; the water, clear; and Chirikoff knew,
from the pilot-birds following the vessel, from the water-logged trees
churning past, from the herds of seal floundering in the sea, that land
must lie in this direction.  A bright lookout was kept for the first two
weeks of July.  Two hundred and forty miles were traversed; and on a
calm, {46} clear night between the 13th and 15th of July, there loomed
above the horizon the dusky heights of a wooded mountainous land in
latitude 55 degrees 21 minutes.  Chirikoff was in the Alexander
Archipelago.  Daybreak came with the _St. Paul_ only four miles off the
conspicuous heights of Cape Addington.  Chirikoff had discovered land
some thirty-six hours before Bering.  The new world of mountains and
forests roused the wildest enthusiasm among the Russians.  A small boat
was lowered; but it failed to find a landing.  A light wind sprang up,
and the vessel stood out under shortened sails for the night.  By morning
the wind had increased, and fog had blurred out all outlines of the
new-found land.  Here the ocean currents ran northward; and by morning of
the 17th, when the sun pierced the washed air and the mountains began to
appear again through jagged rifts of cloud-wraith, Chirikoff found
himself at the entrance of a great bay, girt by forested mountains to the
water's edge, beneath the high cone of what is now known as Mount
Edgecumbe, {47} in Sitka Sound.  Sitka Sound is an indentation about
fifteen miles from north to south, with such depths of water that there
is no anchorage except south and southwestward of Mount Edgecumbe.
Impenetrable woods lined the mountains to the very shore.  Great trunks
of uprooted trees swept past the ship continually.  Even as the clouds
cleared, leaving vast forests and mountain torrents and snowy peaks
visible, a hazy film of intangible gloom seemed to settle over the
shadowy harbor.[2]

[Illustration: A Glacier]

Chirikoff wished to refill his water-casks.  Also, he was ambitious to do
what the scientists cursed Bering for not doing off St. Elias--explore
thoroughly the land newly found.  The long-boat was lowered with Abraham
Dementieff and ten armed men.  The crew was supplied with muskets, a
brass cannon, and provisions for several days.  Chirikoff arranged a
simple code of signals with the men--probably a column of smoke, or
sunlight thrown back by a tin mirror--by which he could know if all went
well.  Then, with a cheer, the first Russians to put foot on the soil of
America bent to the oar and paddled swiftly away from the _St. Paul_ for
the shadow of the forested mountains etched from the inland shore.  The
long-boat seemed smaller as the distance from the _St. Paul_ increased.
Then men and boat disappeared behind an {48} elbow of land.  A flash of
reflected light from the hidden shore; and Chirikoff knew the little band
of explorers had safely landed.  The rest of the crew went to work
putting things shipshape on the _St. Paul_.  The day passed with more
safety signals from the shore.  The crew of the _St. Paul_ slept sound
out in mid-harbor unsuspicious of danger.  Another day passed, and
another night.  Not so many signals!  Had the little band of Russians
gone far inland for water, and the signals been hidden by the forest
gloom?  A wind was singing in the rigging--threatening a landward gale
that might carry the _St. Paul_ somewhat nearer those rocky shores than
the Russians could wish.  Chirikoff sent a sailor spying from the lookout
of the highest yard-arm.  No signals at all this day; nor the next day;
nor the next!  The _St. Paul_ had only one other small boat.  Fearing the
jolly-boat had come to grief among the rocks and counter-currents,
Chirikoff bade Sidor Savelief, the bo'swain, and six armed sailors,
including carpenters to repair damages, take the remaining boat and go to
Dementieff's rescue.  The strictest orders were given that both boats
return at once.  Barely had the second boat rounded the elbow of shore
where the first boat had disappeared when a great column of smoke burst
from the tree-tops of the hidden shore.  To Chirikoff's amazement, the
second crew made no signal.  The night passed uneasily.  Sailors were on
the watch.  Ship's rigging was put in shape.  Dawn was witnessed {49} by
eager eyes gazing shoreward.  The relief was inexpressible when two
boats--a long and a short one like those used by the two crews--were seen
rounding the elbow of land.  The landward breeze was now straining the
_St. Paul's_ hawsers.  Glad to put for open sea to weather the coming
gale, Chirikoff ordered all hands on deck and anchors up.  The small
boats came on with a bounce over the ocean swell; but suddenly one of
Chirikoff's Russians pointed to the approaching crafts.  There was a
pause in the rattle of anchor chains.  There was a pause in the bouncing
of the small boats, too.  They were _not_ the Russian jolly-boats.  They
were canoes; and the canoes were filled with savages as dumb with
astonishment at the apparition of the _St. Paul_ as the Russians were at
the canoes.  Before the Russians had come to their senses, or Chirikoff
had time to display presents to allure the savages on board as hostages,
the Indians rose in their places, uttered a war-whoop that set the rocks
echoing, and beating their paddles on the gun'els, scudded for shore.
Gradually the meaning dawned on Chirikoff.  His two crews had been
destroyed.  His small boats were lost.  His supply of fresh water was
running low.  The fire that he had observed had been a fire of orgies
over mutilated men.  The _St. Paul_ was on a hostile shore with such a
gale blowing as threatened destruction on the rocks.  There Was nothing
to do but scud for open sea.  When the gale abated, Chirikoff returned to
Sitka and cruised {50} the shore for some sign of the sailors: but not a
trace of the lost men could be descried.  By this time water was so
scarce, the men were wringing rain moisture out of the sails and
distilling sea-water.  A council was called.  All agreed it would be
worse than folly to risk the entire crew for the twelve men, who were
probably already dead.  There was no small boat to land for more water;
and the _St. Paul_ was headed about with all speed for the northwest.[3]

Slant rain settled over the sea.  The wind increased and grew more
violent.  The _St. Paul_ drove ahead like a ghost form pursued through a
realm of mist.  Toward the end of July, when the weather cleared,
stupendous mountains covered with snow were seen on the northwestward
horizon like walls of ice with the base awash in thundering sea.
Thousands of cataracts, clear as crystal, flashed against the mountain
sides; and in places the rock wall rose sheer two thousand feet from the
roaring tide.  Inlets, gloomy with forested mountain walls where
impetuous streams laden with the milky silt of countless glaciers tore
their way through the rocks to the sea, could be seen receding inland
through the fog.  Then the foul weather settled over the sea again; and
by the first {51} week of August, with baffling winds and choppy sea, the
_St. Paul_ was veering southwestward where Alaska projects a long arm
into the Pacific.  Chirikoff had passed the line where forests dwarf to
willows, and willows to sedges, and sedges to endless leagues of rolling
tundras.  Somewhere near Kadiak, land was again sighted.  When the fog
lifted, the vapor of far volcanoes could be seen hanging lurid over the
mountain tops.

Wind was followed by dead calm, when the sails literally fell to pieces
with rain-rot in the fog; and on the evening of September 8 the becalmed
crew were suddenly aroused by the tide-rip of roaring breakers.  Heaving
out all anchors at once, Chirikoff with difficulty made fast to rocky
bottom.  In the morning, when the fog lifted, he found himself in the
centre of a shallow bay surrounded by the towering cliffs of what is now
known as Adakh Island.  While waiting for a breeze, he saw seven canoe
loads of savages put out from shore chanting some invocation.  The
Russians threw out presents, but the savages took no notice, gradually
surrounding the _St. Paul_.  All this time Chirikoff had been without any
water but the stale casks brought from Kamchatka; and he now signalled
his desperate need to the Indians.  They responded by bringing bladders
full of fresh water; but they refused to mount the decks.  And by evening
fourteen canoe loads of the taciturn savages were circling threateningly
round the Russians.  Luckily, {52} at nightfall a wind sprang up.
Chirikoff at once slipped anchor and put to sea.

By the third week of August, the rations of rye meal had been reduced to
once a day instead of twice in order to economize water.  Only twelve
casks of water remained; and Chirikoff was fifteen hundred miles from
Kamchatka.  Cold, hunger, thirst, then did the rest.  Chirikoff himself
was stricken with scurvy by the middle of September, and one sailor died
of the scourge.  From the 26th, one death a day followed in succession.
Though down, Chirikoff was not beaten.  Discipline was maintained among
the hungry crew; and each day Chirikoff issued exact orders.  Without any
attempt at steering, the ship drifted westward.  No more land was seen by
the crew; but on the 2d of October, the weather clearing, an observation
was taken of the sun that showed them they were nearing Kamchatka.  On
the 8th, land was sighted; but one man alone, the pilot, Yelagin, had
strength to stay at the helm till Avacha Bay was approached, when
distress signals were fired from the ship's cannon to bring help from
land.  Poor Croyére de l'Isle, kinsman to the map makers whose mistakes
had caused disaster, sick unto death of the scurvy, had kept himself
alive with liquor and now insisted on being carried ashore.  The first
breath of clear air above decks was enough.  The scientist fell dead
within the home harbor.  Chirikoff was landed the same day, all unaware
that at times in the mist and {53} rain he had been within from fifteen
to forty miles of poor Bering, zigzagging across the very trail of the
afflicted sister ship.

[Illustration: Sea Cows.]

By December the entire crew of Bering's castaways, prisoners on the
sea-girt islands of the North Pacific, were lodged in five underground
huts on the bank of a stream.  In 1885, when these mud huts or _yurts_
were examined, they were seen to have walls of peat three feet thick.  To
each man was given a pound of flour.  For the rest, their food must be
what they caught or clubbed--mainly, at first, the sea-otter, whose flesh
was unpalatable to the taste and tough as leather.  Later, Steller
discovered that the huge sea-cow--often thirty-five feet long--seen
pasturing on the fields of sea-kelp at low tide, afforded food of almost
the same quality as the land cow.  Seaweed grew in miniature forests on
the island; and on this pastured the monster bovine of the sea--true fish
in its hind quarters but oxlike in its head and its habits--herding
together like cattle, snorting like a horse, moving the neck from side to
side as it grazed, with the hind leg a fin, the fore fin a leg, udder
between the fore legs, and in place of teeth, plates.  Nine hundred or
more sea-otter--whose pelts afterward brought a fortune to the crew--were
killed for food by Steller and his companions; but two sea-cows provided
the castaways with food for six weeks.  On November 22d died the old
mate, who had weathered northern seas for fifty {54} years.  In all, out
of a crew of seventy-seven, there had perished by January 6, 1742, when
the last death occurred, thirty-one men.

Steller's hut was next to Bering's.  From that November day when he was
carried from the ship through the snow to the sand pit, the commander
sank without rallying.  Foxskins had been spread on the ground as a bed;
but the sand loosened from the sides of the pit and kept rolling down on
the dying man.  Toward the last he begged Steller to let the sand rest,
as it kept in the warmth; so that he was soon covered with sand to his
waist.  White billows and a gray sky followed the hurricane gale that had
hurled the ship in on the beach.  All night between the evening of the
7th and the morning of the 8th of December, the moaning of the south wind
could be heard through the tattered rigging of the wrecked ship; and all
night the dying Dane was communing with his God.  He was now over sixty
years of age.  To a constitution already broken by the nagging cares of
eight years and by hardships indescribable, by scurvy and by exposure,
was added an acute inflammation.  Bering's power of resistance was
sapped.  Two hours before daybreak on December 8, 1741, the brave Dane
breathed his last.  He was interred on the 9th of December between the
graves of the mate and the steward on the hillside; and the bearded
Russians came down from the new-made grave that day bowed and hopeless.
A plain Greek cross was placed above {55} his grave; and a copy of that
cross marks the same grave to-day.

The question arises--where does Bering stand among the world heroes?  The
world loves success better than defeat; and spectacular success better
than duty plainly done.  If success means accomplishing what one sets out
to do in spite of almost insuperable difficulties--Bering won success.
He set out to discover the northwest coast of America; and he perished
doing it.  But if heroism means a something more than tangible success;
if it means that divine quality of fighting for the truth independent of
reward, whether one is to be beaten or not; if it means setting to one's
self the task of perishing for a truth, without the slightest hope of
establishing that truth--then, Bering stands very high indeed among the
world's heroes.  Steller, who had cursed him for not remaining longer at
Mount St. Elias, bore the highest testimony to his integrity and worth.
It may be said that a stronger type of hero would have scrunched into
nothingness the vampire blunderers who misled the ship; but it must be
remembered that stronger types of heroes usually save their own skins and
let the underlings suffer.  While Bering _might_ have averted the
disaster that attended the expedition, it must not be forgotten that when
he perished, there perished the very soul of the great enterprise, which
at once crumbled to pieces.

On a purely material plane, what did Bering accomplish?

{56} He dispelled forever the myth of the Northeast Passage if the world
would have but accepted his conclusions.  The coast of Japan was charted
under his direction.  The Arctic coast of Asia was charted under his
direction.  A country as large as from Maine to Florida, or Baltimore to
Texas, with a river comparable only to the Mississippi, was discovered by
him.  The furs of this country for a single year more than paid all that
Russia spent to discover it; all that the United States later paid to
Russia for it.

A dead whale thrown up on the shore proved a godsend to the weak and
famishing castaways.  As their bodies grew stronger, the spirit of
merriment that gilds life's darkest clouds began to come back, and the
whale was jocularly known among the Russians as "our magazine of

Then parties of hunters began going out for the sea-otter, which hid its
head during storm under the kelp of the sea fields.  Steller knew the
Chinese would pay what in modern money is from one hundred to one hundred
and fifty dollars for each of these sea-otter skins; and between nine
hundred and one thousand were taken by the wrecked crew.  The same skin
of prime quality sells in a London auction room to-day for one thousand
dollars.  And in spring, when the sea-otter disappeared, there came
herds--herds in millions upon millions--of another visitant to the shores
of the Commander Islands--the fur seal, {57} which afforded new hunting
to the crew, and new wealth to the world.

[Illustration: Seals in a Rookery on Bering Island.]

The terrible danger now was not from starvation, but mutiny, murder, or
massacre among the branded criminals of the discontented crew.  Waxel, as
he recovered, was afraid of tempting revolt with orders, and convened the
crew by vote to determine all that should be done.  Officers and
men--there was no distinction.  By March of 1742 the ground had cleared
of snow.  Waxel called a meeting to suggest breaking up the packet vessel
to build a smaller craft.  A vote {58} was asked.  The resolution was
called, written out, and signed by every survivor, but afterward, when
officers and men set themselves to the well-nigh impossible task of
untackling the ship without implements of iron, revolt appeared among the
workers.  Again Waxel avoided mutiny.  A meeting was called, another vote
taken, the recalcitrants shamed down.  The crew lacked more than tools.
There was no ship's carpenter.  Finally a Cossack, who was afterward
raised to the nobility for his work, consented to act as director of the
building, and on the 6th of May a vessel forty feet long, thirteen beam,
and six deep, was on the stocks.  All June, the noise of the planking
went on till the mast raised its yard-arms, and an eight-oared
single-master, such as the old Vikings of the North Sea used, was well
under way.

The difficulties of such shipbuilding can hardly be realized.  There was
no wood but the wood of the old ship, no rigging but the old hemp, no tar
but such as could be melted out of the old hemp in earth pits; and very
few axes.  The upper part was calked with tallow of the sea-cow, the
under with tar from the old hull.  The men also constructed a second
small boat or canoe.

On the 10th of August, with such cheers as the island never heard before
or since, the single-master was launched from the skids and named the
_St. Peter_.  Cannon balls and cartridges were thrown in bottom as
ballast.  Luckily, eight hundred pounds of {59} meal had been reserved
for the return voyage, and Steller had salted down steaks of whale meat
and sea-cow.  On the evening of August 16, after solemn prayer and
devotions, with one last look to the lonely crosses on the hillside where
lay the dead, the castaways went on board.  A sharp breeze was blowing
from the north.  Hoisting sail, they glided out to sea.  The old
jolly-boat bobbled behind in tow.  Late at night, when the wind fell, the
eager mariners bent to the oar.  By noon next day they had rounded the
southeast corner of the island.  Two days afterward, rough weather set
the old jolly-boat bumping her nose so violently on the heels of the _St.
Peter_, that the cable had to be cut and the small boat set adrift.  That
night the poor tallow-calked planks leaked so badly, pumps and buckets
were worked at fever heat, and all the ballast was thrown overboard.
Sometime during the 25th, there shone above the silver rim where sea and
sky met, the opal dome of far mountains, Kamchatka!

The bearded men could control themselves no longer.  Shout on shout made
the welkin ring.  Tears streamed down the rough, unwashed faces.  The
Cossacks wept like children.  Men vied with each other to seize the oars
and row like mad.  The tide-rip bounding--lifting--falling--racing over
seas for the shores of Kamchatka never ran so mad and swift a course as
the crazy craft there bouncing forward over the waves.  And when they saw
the home harbor {60} of Petropaulovsk, Avacha Bay, on August 27,
exultation knew no bounds.  The men fired off guns, beat oars on the deck
rail, shouted--shouted--shouted till the mountains echoed and every
living soul of Avacha dashed to the waterside scarcely believing the
evidence of his eyes--that the castaways of Bering's ship had returned.
Then one may well believe that the monks set the chapel bells ringing and
the cannon roared a welcome from Avacha Bay.

Chirikoff had in May sailed in search of Bering, passing close to the
island where the castaways were prisoners of the sea, but he did not see
the Commander Islands; and all hope had been given up for any word of the
_St. Peter_.  Waxel wintered that year at Avacha Bay, crossing the
mainland in the spring of 1743.  In September of the same year, an
imperial decree put an end to the Northern Expedition, and Waxel set out
across Siberia to take the crew back to St. Petersburg.  Poor Steller
died on the way from exposure.

So ended the greatest naval exploration known to the world.  Beside it,
other expeditions to explore America pale to insignificance.  La Salle
and La Vérendrye ascended the St. Lawrence, crossed inland plains, rafted
down the mighty tide of the great inland rivers; but La Salle stopped at
the mouth of the Mississippi, and La Vérendrye was checked by the barrier
of the Rockies.  Lewis and Clark accomplished yet more.  After ascending
the Missouri and crossing the plains, they traversed the Rockies; but
they were {61} stopped at the Pacific.  When Bering had crossed the
rivers and mountains of the two continents--first Europe, then Asia--and
reached the Pacific, his expedition had _only begun_.  Little remains to
Russia of what he accomplished but the group of rocky islets where he
perished.  But judged by the difficulties which he overcame; by the
duties desperately impossible, done plainly and doggedly, by death heroic
in defeat--Bering's expedition to northwestern America is without a peer
in the annals of the New World discovery.[4]

[1] I adopt the views of Dr. Stejneger, of the National Museum,
Washington, on this point, as he has personally gone over every foot of
the ground.

[2] Dr. George Davidson, President of the Geographical Society of the
Pacific, has written an irrefutable pamphlet on why Kyak Island and Sitka
Sound must be accepted as the landfalls of Bering and Chirikoff.

[3] Thus the terrible Sitkan massacre of a later day was preceded by the
slaughter of the first Russians to reach America.  The Russian government
of a later day originated a comical claim to more territory on the ground
that descendants of these lost Russians had formed settlements farther
down the coast, alleging in proof that subsequent explorers had found
red-headed and light-complexioned people as far south as the Chinook
tribes.  To such means will statecraft stoop.

[4] Coxe's _Discoveries of the Russians between Asia and America_ (Paris,
1781) supplies local data on Siberia in the time of Bering.  _Voyages
from Asia to America_, by S. Müller of the Royal Academy, St. Petersburg,
1764, is simply excellent in that part of the voyage dealing with the
wreck.  _Peter Lauridsen's Vitus Bering translated from the Danish by
Olson_ covers all three aims of the expedition, Japanese and Arctic
voyages as well as American.





How the Sea-otter Pelts brought back by Bering's Crew led to the
Exploitation of the Northwest Coast of America--Difference of Sea-otter
from Other Fur-bearing Animals of the West--Perils of the Hunt

When the castaway crew of Vitus Bering looked about for means to exist
on the barren islands where they were wrecked, they found the kelp beds
and seaweed fields of the North Pacific literally alive with a little
animal, which the Russians called "the sea-beaver."  Sailors of
Kamchatka and eastern Siberia knew the sea-beaver well, for it had been
found on the Asiatic side of the Pacific, and its pelt was regarded as
priceless by Chinese and Tartar merchants.  But where did this strange
denizen of northern waters live?  Only in rare seasons did the herds
assemble on the rocky islets of Kamchatka and Japan.  And when spring
came, the sea-beaver disappeared.  Asia was not its home.  Where did it

Russian adventurers who rafted the coast of Siberia {63} in crazy
skiffs, related that the sea-beaver always disappeared northeastward,
whence the spruce driftwood and dead whales with harpoons of strange
hunters and occasionally wrecks of walrus-skin boats came washing from
an unknown land.

It was only when Bering's crew were left prisoners of the sea on an
island barren as a billiard ball that the hunger-desperate men found
the habitat of the sea-beaver to be the kelp beds of the Aleutian
Islands and northwestern America.  But what use were priceless pelts
where neither money nor merchant was, and men mad with hunger were
thrown back on the primal necessities without thought of gain?

The hungry Russian sailors fell on the kelp beds, clubbing right and
left regardless of pelts.  What matter if the flesh was tough as
leather and rank as musk?  It filled the empty stomachs of fifty
desperate men; and the skins were used on the treeless isle as rugs, as
coats, as walls, as stuff to chink the cracks of earth pits, where the
sailors huddled like animals in underground caves with no ceiling but
the tattered sails.  So passed a year--the most desolate year in the
annals of ocean voyaging, and when the castaways rafted back to Asia on
a skiff made of their wrecked ship, they were clad in the raw skins of
the sea-otter, which they had eaten.  In all, nearly a thousand skins
were carried back; and for those skins, which the Russian sailors had
scarcely valued, Chinese merchants paid what in modern money would be
from {64} one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars a pelt.[1]

After that, the Russians of Siberia needed no incentive to hunt the
sea-beaver.  Its habitat was known, and all the riffraff adventurers of
Siberian exile, Tartars, Kamchatkans, Russians, criminals, and officers
of royal lineage, engaged in the fur trade of western America.  Danger
made no difference.  All that was needed was a boat; and the boat was
usually rough-hewn out of the green timbers of Kamchatka.  If iron
bolts were lacking so far from Europe as the width of two continents,
the boat builders used deer sinew, or thongs of walrus hide.  Tallow
took the place of tar, deerskin the place of hemp, and courage the
place of caution.  A Siberian merchant then chanced an outfit of
supplies for half what the returns might be.  The commander--officer or
exile--then enlisted sailors among landsmen.  Landsmen were preferable
for this kind of voyaging.  Either in the sublime courage of ignorance,
or with the audacity of desperation, the poor landsmen dared dangers
which no sailors would risk on such crazy craft, two thousand miles
from a home port on an outrageous sea.

England and the United States became involved in the exploitation of
the Pacific coast in almost the same way.  When Captain Cook was at
Nootka Sound thirty years after Bering's death, his crews traded {65}
trinkets over the taffrail netting for any kind of furs the natives of
the west coast chose to exchange.  In the long voyaging to Arctic
waters afterward, these furs went to waste with rain-rot.  More than
two-thirds were thrown or given away.  The remaining third sold in
China on the home voyage of the ships for what would be more than ten
thousand dollars of modern money.  News of that fact was enough.
Boston, New York, London, rubbed their eyes to possibilities of fur
trade on the Pacific coast.  As the world knows, Boston's efforts
resulted in the chance discovery of the Columbia; New York's efforts,
in the foundation of the Astor fortunes.  East India, France, England,
Spain, the United States, vied with each other for the prize of
America's west coast.

Just as the beaver led French voyagers westward from Quebec to the
Rocky Mountains, south to Texas, north to the Athabasca, so the hunt of
the sea-beaver led to the exploration of the North Pacific coast.

"Sea-beaver" the Russians called the owner of the rare pelt.
"Sea-otter" it was known to the English and American hunters.  But it
is like neither the otter nor beaver, though its habits are akin to
both.  Its nearest relative is probably the fur seal.  Like the seal,
its pelt has an ebony shimmer, showing silver when blown open, soft
black tipped with white, when examined hair by hair.  Six feet, the
full-grown sea-otter measures from nose to stumpy tail, with a {66}
beaver-shaped face, teeth like a cat, and short webbed feet.  Some
hunters say the sea-otter is literally born on the tumbling waves--a
single pup at a time; others, that the sea-otter retire to some
solitary rocky islet to bring forth their young.  Certain it is they
are rocked on the deep from their birth, "cradled" in the sea, sleeping
on their backs in the water, clasping the young in their arms like a
human being, tossing up seaweed in play by the hour like mischievous
monkeys, or crawling out on some safe, sea-girt rocklet, where they
shake the water from their fur and make their toilet, stretching and
arranging and rearranging hair like a cat.  Only the fiercest gales
drive the sea-otter ashore, for it must come above water to breathe;
and it must come ashore to sleep where it _can_ breathe; for the ocean
wash in a storm would smother the sleeper.  And its favorite sleeping
grounds are in the forests of kelp and seaweed, where it can bury its
head, and like the ostrich think itself hidden.  A sound, a whiff--the
faintest tinge--of smoke from miles away is enough to frighten the
sleeper, who leaps up with a fierce courage unequalled in the animal
world, and makes for sea in lightning-flash bounds.

When Bering found the northwest coast of America, the sea-otter
frequented all the way from what is now California to the Commander
Islands, the last link of the chain from America to Asia.  Sea-otter
were found and taken in thousands at Sitka Sound, in Yakutat Bay,
Prince William Sound, Cook's Inlet, and all {67} along the chain of
eleven hundred Aleutian Islands to the Commander Group, off Kamchatka.
Where they were found in thousands then, they are seen only in tens and
hundreds to-day.  Where they are in hundreds one year, they may not
come at all the next, having been too hard hunted.  This explains why
there used to be returns of five thousand in a single year at Kadiak or
Oonalaska or Cook's Inlet; and the next year, less than a hundred from
the same places.  Japan long ago moved for laws to protect the
sea-otter as vigorously as the seal; but Japan was only snubbed by
England and the United States for her pains, and to-day the only
adequate protection afforded the diminishing sea-otter is in the tiny
remnant of Russia's once vast American possessions--on the Commander
Islands where by law only two hundred sea-otter may be taken a year,
and the sea-otter rookeries are more jealously guarded than diamond
mines.  The decreasing hunt has brought back primitive methods.
Instead of firearms, the primitive club and net and spear are again
used, giving the sea-otter a fair chance against his antagonist--Man.
Except that the hunters are few and now dress in San Francisco clothes,
they go to the hunt in the same old way as when Baranof, head of the
Russian Fur Company, led his battalions out in companies of a thousand
and two thousand "bidarkies"--walrus-skin skiffs taut as a drumhead,
with seams tallowed and an oilskin wound round each of the manholes, so
that the boat {68} could turn a somerset in the water, or be pitched
off a rock into the surf, and come right side up without taking water,
paddler erect.

The first thing the hunter had to look to was boat and hunting gear.
Westward of Cook's Inlet and Kadiak was no timber but driftwood, and
the tide wash of wrecks; so the hunter, who set out on the trail of the
pathless sea, framed his boat on the bones of the whale.  There were
two kinds of boats--the long ones, for from twelve to twenty men, the
little skiffs which Eskimos of the Atlantic call kyacks--with two or
three, seldom more, manholes.  Over the whalebone frame was stretched
the wet elastic hide of walrus or sea-lion.  The big boat was open on
top like a Newfoundland fisherman's dory or Frenchman's bateau, the
little boat covered over the top except for the manholes round which
were wound oilskins to keep the water out when the paddler had seated
himself inside.  Then the wet skin was allowed to dry in sunshine and
wind.  Hot seal oil and tallow poured over the seams and cracks, calked
the leaks.  More sunshine and wind, double-bladed paddles for the
little boats, strong oars and a sail for the big ones, and the skiffs
were ready for water.  Eastward of Kadiak, particularly south of Sitka,
the boats might be hollowed trees, carved wooden canoes, or
dugouts--not half so light to ride shallow, tempestuous seas as the
skin skiff of the Aleut hunter.

We supercilious civilized folk laugh at the odd dress {69} of the
savage; but it was exactly adapted to the need.  The otter hunter wore
the fur in, because that was warmer; and the skin out, because cured in
oil, that was waterproof; and the chimney-pot capote, because that tied
tight enough around his neck kept the ice-water from going down his
back when the bidarka turned heels up; and the skin boots, because
they, too, were waterproof; and the sedge grass padding in place of
stockings, because it protected the feet from the jar of rocks in wild
runs through surf and kelp after the game.  On land, the skin side of
the coats could be turned in and the fur out.

Oonalaska, westward of the Aleutian chain of islands and Kadiak, just
south of the great Alaskan peninsula, were the two main points whence
radiated the hunting flotillas for the sea-otter grounds.  Formerly, a
single Russian schooner or packet boat would lead the way with a
procession of a thousand bidarkas.  Later, schooners, thirty or forty
of them, gathered the hunters at some main fur post, stowed the light
skin kyacks in piles on the decks, and carried the Aleuts to the otter
grounds.  This might be at Atka, where the finest otter hunters in the
world lived, or on the south shore of Oonalaska, or in Cook's Inlet
where the rip of the tide runs a mill-race, or just off Kadiak on the
Saanach coast, where twenty miles of beach boulders and surf waters and
little islets of sea-kelp provide ideal fields for the sea-otter.  Here
the sweeping tides and {70} booming back-wash keep up such a roar of
tumbling seas, the shy, wary otter, alert as an eagle, do not easily
get scent or sound of human intruder.  Surf washes out the scent of the
man track.  Surf out-sounds noise of the man killer; and no fires are
lighted, be it winter or summer, unless the wind is straight from the
southward; for the sea-otter always frequent the south shores.  The
only provisions on the carrying schooner are hams, rancid butter or
grease, some rye bread and flour; the only clothing, what the Aleut
hunters wear.

No sooner has the schooner sheered off the hunting-grounds, than the
Aleuts are over decks with the agility of performing monkeys, the
schooner captain wishing each good luck, the eager hunters leaping into
their bidarkas following the lead of a chief.  The schooner then
returns to the home harbor, leaving the hunters on islands bare as a
planed board for two, three, four months.  On the Commander Group,
otter hunters are now restricted to the use of the net alone, but
formerly the nature of the hunting was determined entirely by the
weather.  If a tide ran with heavy surf and wind landward to conceal
sound and sight, the hunters lined alongshore of the kelp beds and
engaged in the hunt known as surf-shooting.  Their rifles would carry a
thousand yards.  Whoever saw the little round black head bob above the
surface of the water, shot, and the surf wash carried in the dead body.
If the weather was dead calm, fog or clear, bands of twenty {71} and
thirty men deployed in a circle to spear their quarry.  This was the
spearing-surround.  Or if such a hurricane gale was churning the sea so
that gusty spray and sleet storm washed out every outline, sweeping the
kelp beds naked one minute, inundating them with mountainous rollers
that thundered up the rocks the next, the Aleut hunters risked life,
scudded out on the back of the raging storm, now riding the rollers,
now dipping to the trough of the sea, now scooting with lightning
paddle-strokes right through the blasts of spray athwart wave wash and
trough--straight for the kelp beds or rocky boulders, where the
sea-otter must have been driven for refuge by the storm.  This hunting
is the very incarnation of the storm spirit itself, for the wilder the
gale, the more sea-otter have come ashore; the less likely they will be
to see or hear or smell the hunter.  Gaff or paddle in hand, the Aleut
leaps from rock to rock, or dashes among the tumbling beds of tossed
kelp.  A quick blow of the bludgeon; the otter never knows how death
came.  This is the club hunt.  But where the shore is honeycombed with
caves and narrow inlets of kelp fields, is a safer kind of hunting.
Huge nets now made of twine, formerly of sinew, with wooden floaters
above, iron sinkers below, are spread athwart the kelp fields.  The
tide sweeps in, washing the net flat.  And the sea-otter swim in with
the tide.  The tide sweeps out, washing the net up, but the otter are
enmeshed in a tangle that holds neck and feet.  This is, perhaps, the
{72} best kind of otter hunting, for the females and young can be
thrown back in the sea.

Barely has the supply schooner dipped over the offing, when the
cockle-shell bidarkas skimming over the sea make for the shore of the
hunting-grounds.  Camping is a simple matter, for no fires are to be
lighted, and the tenting place is chosen if possible on the north side
of some knoll.  If it is warm weather, the Aleut will turn his skin
skiff upside down, crawl into the hole head first and sleep there.  Or
he may erect the V-shaped tent such as the prairie tepee.  But if it is
cold, he has a better plan yet.  He will dig a hole in the ground and
cover over the top with sail-cloth.  Let the wind roar above and the
ice bang the shore rocks, the Aleut swathed in furs sleeps sound close
to earth.  If driftwood lines the shore, he is in luck; for he props up
the poles, covers them with furs, and has what might be mistaken for a
wigwam, except that these Indians construct their tents round-topped
and always turn the skin side of the fur out.

For provisions, he has brought very little from the ship.  He will
depend on the winds driving in a dead whale, or on the fish of the
shore, or on the eggs of the sea-birds that nest on these rocks
millions upon millions--such myriads of birds they seem to crowd each
other for foot room, and the noise of their wings is like a great
wind.[2]  The Aleut himself is what any race of men {73} would become
in generations of such a life.  His skin is more like bronze than
leather.  His chest is like a bellows, but his legs are ill developed
from the cramped posture of knees in the manhole.  Indeed, more than
knees go under the manhole.  When pressed for room, the Aleut has been
known to crawl head foremost, body whole, right under the manhole and
lie there prone between the feet of the paddlers with nothing between
him and the abysmal depths of a hissing sea but the parchment keel of
the bidarka, thin as paper.

How do these thin skin boats escape wreckage on a sea where tide-rip
washes over the reefs all summer and ice hummocks sweep out from the
shore in winter tempest?  To begin with, the frost that creates the ice
clears the air of fog, and the steel-shod pole either sheers the
bidarka off from the ice, or the ice off from the bidarka.  Then, when
the fog lies knife-thick over the dangerous rocks in summer time, there
is a certain signal to these deep-sea plunderers.  The huge Pacific
walrus--the largest species of walrus in the world--lie in herds of
hundreds on these danger rocks, and the walrus snorts through the gray
mist like a continual fog-horn.  No better danger signal exists among
the rocks of the North Pacific than this same snorting walrus, who for
all his noise and size is a floundering coward.  The great danger to
the nutshell skin's is from becoming ice-logged when the sleet storms
fall and freeze; and for the rest, the sea makes small matter of a
hunter more or less.

{74} No landsman's still-hunt affords the thrilling excitement of the
otter hunter's spearing-surrounds.  Fifteen or twenty-five little skin
skiffs, with two or three men in each, paddle out under a chief elected
by common consent.  Whether fog or clear, the spearing is done only in
calm weather.  The long line of bidarkas circles silently over the
silver sea.  Not a word is spoken, not a paddle blade allowed to click
against the bone gun'els of the skiff.  Double-bladed paddles are
frequently used, so shift of paddle is made from side to side of the
canoe without a change of hands.  The skin shallops take to the water
as noiselessly as the glide of a duck.  Yonder, where the boulders lie
mile on mile awash in the surf, kelp rafts--forests of seaweed--lift
and fall with the rhythmical wash of the tide.  Hither the otter
hunters steer, silent as shadows.  The circle widens, deploys, forms a
cordon round the outermost rim of the kelp fields.  Suddenly a black
object is seen floating on the surface of the waters--a sea-otter
asleep.  Quick as flash, the steersman lifts his paddle.  Not a word is
spoken, but so keen is the hearing of the sleeping otter, the drip of
the lifted paddle has not splashed into the sea before the otter has
awakened, looked and dived like lightning to the bottom of the sea
before one of the Aleut hunters can hurl his spear.  Silently, not a
whisper, the steersman signals again.  The hunters deploy in a circle
half a mile broad round the place where the sea-otter disappeared; for
they know that in fifteen or twenty {75} minutes the animal must come
up for breath, and it cannot run farther than half a mile under sea
before it reappears.

Suddenly somebody sees a round black-red head poke above water, perhaps
close to the line of watchers.  With a wild shout, the nearest bidarkas
dart forward.  Whether the spear-throw has hit or missed, the shout has
done enough.  The terrified otter dives before it has breath.  Over the
second diving spot a hunter is stationed, and the circle narrows, for
the otter must come up quicker this time.  It must have breath.  Again
and again, the little round head peeps up.  Again the shout greets it.
Again the lightning dive.  Sometimes only a bubble gurgling to the top
of the water guides the watchers.  Presently the body is so full of
gases from suppressed breathing, it can no longer sink, and a quick
spear-throw secures the quarry.  One animal against, perhaps, sixty
men.  Is the quest fair?  Yonder thunders the surf below beetling
precipices.  Then the tide wash comes in with a rip like a whirlpool,
or the ebb sets the beach combers rolling--lashing billows of tumbling
waters that crash together and set the sheets of blinding spray
shattering.  Or the fog comes down over a choppy sea with a whizzing
wind that sets the whitecaps flying backward like a horse's mane.  The
chase may have led farther and farther from land.  As long as the
little black head comes up, as long as the gurgling bubble tells of a
struggling breather below, the hunters follow, be it {76} near or far,
till, at the end of two or three hours, the exhausted sea-otter is
taken.  Perhaps forty men have risked their lives for a single pelt for
which the trader cannot pay more than forty dollars; for he must have
his profit, and the skin must be dressed, and the middlemen must have
their profit; so that if it sells even for eleven hundred dollars in
London--though the average is nearer one hundred and fifty dollars--the
Aleut is lucky to receive forty or fifty dollars.  Day after day, three
months at a time, warm or cold, not daring to light fires on the
island, the Aleut hunters go out to the spearing-surround, till the
schooner returns for them from the main post; and whether the hunt is
harder on man or beast may be judged from the fact that where the
hunting battalions used to rally out in companies of thousands, they
to-day go forth only in twenties and forties.  True, the sea-otter has
decreased and is almost extinct in places; but then, where game laws
protect it, as in the Commander Islands, it is on the increase, and as
for the Aleut hunters--their thousands lie in the bottom of the sea;
and of the thousands who rallied forth long ago, often only a few
hundred returned.

But while the spearing-surround was chiefly followed in battalions
under the direction of a trading company, the clubbing was done by the
individuals--the dauntless hunters, who scudded out in twos and threes
in the wake of the blast, lost themselves in the shattering sheets of
spray, with the wind screaming mad riot in their ears {77} and the
roily rollers running a mill-race against tide and wind.  How did they
steer their cockle-shell skiffs--these Vikings of the North Pacific; or
did they steer at all, or only fly before the gale on the wings of the
mad north winds?  Who can tell?  The feet of man leave earth sometimes
when the spirit rides out reckless of land or sea, or heaven or hell,
and these plunderers of the deep took no reckoning of life or death
when they rode out on the gale, where the beach combers shattered up
the rocks, and the creatures of the sea came huddling landward to take
refuge among the kelp rafts.

Tossing the skin skiffs high and dry on some rock, with perhaps the
weight of a boulder to keep them from blowing away, the hunters rushed
off to the surf wash armed only with a stout stick.

The otters must be approached away from the wind, and the noise of the
surf will deaden the hunter's approach; so beating their way against
hurricane gales--winds that throw them from their feet at
times--scrambling over rocks slippery as glass with ice, running out on
long reefs where the crash of spray confuses earth and air, wading
waist-deep in ice slush, the hunters dash out for the kelp beds and
rocks where the otter are asleep.  Clubbing sounds brutal, but this
kind of hunting is, perhaps, the most merciful of all--to the animal,
not the man.  The otter is asleep.  The gale conceals the approaching
danger.  One blow of the gaff, and the otter never awakes.  In this way
have three hunters killed as many as a hundred otter {78} in two hours;
and in this way have the thousands of Aleutian otter hunters, who used
to throng the inlets of the northern islands, perished and dwindled to
a population of poverty stricken, scattered men.

What were the rewards for all this risk of life?  A glance at the
records of the old fur companies tells why the Russian and American and
English traders preferred sea-otter to the gold mines of the Spaniards
in Mexico.  Less than ten years after Cook's crew had sold their
sea-otter for ten thousand dollars, the East India Company sold six
hundred sea-otter for from sixty to one hundred dollars each.  Two
years later, Portlock and Dixon sold their cargo for fifty-five
thousand dollars; and when it is remembered that two hundred
sea-otter--twelve thousand dollars' worth at the lowest average--were
sometimes got from the Nootka tribes for a few dollars' worth of old
chisel iron--the profit can be estimated.

In 1785 five thousand sea-otter were sold in China for one hundred and
sixty thousand dollars.  A capital of fifty thousand usually yielded
three hundred thousand dollars; that is--if the ships escaped the
dangers of hostile Indians and treacherous seas.  What the Russians
made from sea-otter will probably never be known; for so many different
companies were engaged in the trade; and a hundred years ago, as many
as fifteen thousand Indian hunters went out for the Russians yearly.
One ship, the year after Bering's wreck, {79} is known to have made
half a million dollars from its cargo.  By definite figures--not
including returns not tabulated in the fur companies--two hundred
thousand sea-otter were taken for the Russians in half a century.  Just
before the United States took over Alaska, Russia was content with four
hundred sea-otter a year; but by 1875 the Americans were getting three
thousand a year.  Those gathered at Kadiak have totalled as many as six
thousand in a year during the heyday of the hunt, at Oonalaska three
thousand, on the Prybilofs now noted for their seal, five thousand.  In
1785 Cook's Inlet yielded three thousand; in 1812, only one hundred.
Yakutat gave two thousand in 1794, only three hundred, six years later.
Fifteen thousand were gathered at Sitka in 1804, only one hundred and
fifty thirty years later.  Of course the Russians obtained such results
only by a system of musket, bludgeon, and outrage, that are repellent
to the modern mind.  Women were seized as hostages for a big hunt.
Women were even murdered as a punishment for small returns.  Men were
sacrificed like dogs by the "promyshleniki"--riffraff blackguard
Russian hunters from the Siberian exile population; but this is a story
of outrageous wrong followed by its own terrible and unshunnable
Nemesis which shall be told by itself.

[1] The price of the sea-otter varied, falling in seasons when the
market was glutted to $40 a pelt, selling as high, in cases of rare
beauty, as $1000 a pelt.

[2] See John Burroughs's account of birds observed during the Harriman
Expedition.  Elliott and Stejenger have remarked on the same phenomenon.





The American Coast becomes the Great Rendezvous for Siberian Criminals
and Political Exiles--Beyond Reach of Law, Cossacks and Criminals
perpetrate Outrages on the Indians--The Indians' Revenge wipes out
Russian Forts in America--The Pursuit of Four Refugee Russians from
Cave to Cave over the Sea at Night--How they escape after a Year's Chase

"_God was high in the Heavens, and the Czar was far away_," as the
Russians say, and the Siberian exiles--coureurs of the sea--who flocked
to the west coast of America to hunt the sea-otter after Bering's
discoveries in 1741 took small thought and recked no consequences of
God or the Czar.

They timbered their crazy craft from green wood in Kamchatka, or on the
Okhotsk Sea, or among the forests of Siberian rivers.  They lashed the
rude planks together, hoisted a sail of deer hide above a deck of,
perhaps, sixty feet, and steering by instinct across seas as chartless
as the forests where French coureurs ran, struck out from Asia for
America with wilder {81} dreams of plunder than ever Spanish galleon or
English freebooter hoped coasting the high seas.

The crews were criminals with the brands of their crimes worn
uncovered, banded together by some Siberian merchant who had provided
goods for trade, and set adrift under charge of half a dozen Cossacks
supposed to keep order and collect tribute of one-tenth as homage from
American Indians for the Czar.  English buccaneers didn't scruple as to
blood when they sacked Spanish cities for Spanish gold.  These Russian
outlaws scrupled less, when their only hope of bettering a desperate
exile was the booty of precious furs plundered, or bludgeoned, or
exacted as tribute from the Indians of Northwest America.  The plunder,
when successful, or trade, if the crazy planks did not go to pieces
above some of the reefs that cut up the North Pacific, was halved
between outfitter and crew.  If the cargo amounted to half a million
dollars in modern money--as one of Drusenin's first trips did--then a
quarter of a million was a tidy sum to be divided among a crew of, say,
thirty or forty.  Often as not, the long-planked single-master fell to
pieces in a gale, when the Russians went to the bottom of the sea, or
stranded among the Aleutian Islands westward of Alaska, when the
castaways took up comfortable quarters among the Indians, who knew no
other code of existence than the _rights of the strong_; and the
Russians with their firearms seemed strong, indeed, to the Aleuts.  As
long as the newcomer demanded only furs, {82} on his own terms of
trade--the Indians acquiesced.  Their one hope was to become strong as
the Russians by getting iron in "toes"--bands two inches thick, two
feet long.  It was that ideal state, which finical philosophers
describe as the "survival of the fit," and it worked well till the
other party to the arrangement resolved he would play the same game and
become fit, too, when there resulted a cataclysm of bloodshed.  The
Indians bowed the neck submissively before oppression.  Abuse, cruelty,
outrage, accumulated on the heads of the poor Aleuts.  They had reached
the fine point where it is better for the weak to die trying to
overthrow strength, than to live under the iron heel of brute

The immediate cause of revolt is a type of all that preceded it.[1]
Running out for a thousand miles from the coast of Alaska is the long
chain of Aleutian Islands linking across the Pacific toward Asia.
Oonalaska, the most important and middle of these, is as far from
Oregon as Oregon is from New York.  Near Oonalaska were the finest
sea-otter fields in the world; and the Aleutians numbered twenty
thousand hunters--men, women, children--born to the light skin boat as
plainsmen were born to the saddle.  On Oonalaska and its next-door
neighbor westward were at least ten thousand of these Indian otter
hunters, when Russia first sent her ships to America.  Bassof came
soonest after Bering's discovery; and he carried back {83} on each of
three trips to the Commander Islands a cargo of furs worth from
seventy-five thousand to one hundred thousand dollars in modern money.
The effect on the Siberian mind was the same as a gold find.  All the
riffraff adventurers of Siberia swarmed to the west coast of America.

We have only the Russian version of the story--not the Indians'--and
may infer that we have the side most favorable to Russia.  When booty
of half a million was to be had for the taking, what Siberian exiles
would permit an Indian village to stand between them and wealth?  At
first only children were seized as hostages of good conduct on the part
of the Indians while the white hunters coasted the islands.  Then
daughters and wives were lured and held on the ships, only to be
returned when the husbands and fathers came back with a big hunt for
the white masters.  Then the men were shot down; safer dead, thought
the Russians; no fear of ambush or surprise; and the women were held as
slaves to be knouted and done to death at their masters' pleasure.

In 1745--four years after Russia's discovery of western America--a
whole village in Attoo was destroyed so that the Russians could seize
the women and children fleeing for hiding to the hills.  The next year
Russians were caught putting poison in the food of another village: the
men ate first among the Indians.  The women would be left as slaves to
the Russians; and these same Russians carried a pagan boy home to {84}
be baptized in the Christian faith; for the little convert could come
back to the Aleutian Islands as interpreter.  It was as thorough a
scheme of subjugation as the wolf code of existence could have entailed.

The culmination came with the crew of Betshevin, a Siberian merchant,
in 1760.  There were forty Russians, including Cossacks, and twenty
other Asiatic hunters and sailors.  Four of the merchant's agents went
along to enforce honest returns.  Sergeant Pushkareff of the Cossacks
was there to collect tribute from Russia's Indian subjects on the west
coast of America.  The ship was evidently better than the general run,
with ample room in the hold for cargo, and wide deck room where the
crew slept in hammocks without cover--usually a gruff, bearded, ragged,
vermin-infested horde.  The vessel touched at Oomnak, after having met
a sister ship, perhaps with an increase of aggressiveness toward the
natives owing to the presence of these other Russians under Alixei
Drusenin; and passed on eastward to the next otter resort, Oonalaska

Oonalaska is like a human hand spread out, with the fingers northeast,
the arm end down seventy miles long toward Oomnak Island.  The entire
broken coast probably reaches a circuit of over two hundred miles.
Down the centre and out each spur are high volcanic mountains, two of
them smoking volcanoes, all pitted with caves and hot springs whose
course can be traced in winter by the runnels of steam {85} down the
mountain side.  On the south side, reefs line all approach.  North,
east, and west are countless abrupt inlets opening directly into the
heart of the mountains down whose black cliffs shatter plumes of spray
and cataract.  Not a tree grows on the island.  From base to summit the
hills are a velvet sward, willow shrubs the size of one's finger, grass
waist high, and such a wealth of flowers--poppy fields, anemones,
snowdrops, rhododendrons--that one might be in a southern climate
instead of close proximity to frozen zones.  Fogs wreathe the island
three-quarters of the time; and though snow lies five feet deep in
winter, and such blizzards riot in from the north as would tear trees
up by the roots, and drive all human beings to their underground
dwellings, it is never cold, never below zero, and the harbors are
always open.  Whaling, fishing, fur hunting--those were the occupations
of the islanders then, as now.

Here, then, came Pushkareff in 1762 after two years' cruising about the
Aleutian Islands.  The natives are friendly, thinking to obtain iron,
and knives, and firearms like the other islanders who have traded with
the Russians.  Children are given as hostages of good conduct for the
Oonalaskan men, who lead the Russians off to the hunt, coasting from
point to point.  Pushkareff, the Cossack, himself goes off with twenty
men to explore; but somehow things go wrong at the native villages on
this trip.  The hostages find they are not guests, but slaves.  Anyway,
Betshevin's {86} agent is set upon and murdered.  Two more Russians are
speared to death under Pushkareff's eyes, two wounded, and the Cossack
himself, with his fourteen men, forced to beat a hasty retreat back to
ships and huts on the coast.  Here, strange enough, things have gone
wrong, too!  More women and children objecting to their masters'
pleasure--slavery, the knout, the branding iron, death by starvation
and abuse.  Two Russians have been slain bathing in the hot springs
near Makushin Volcano, four murdered at the huts, four wounded; and the
barrack is burned to the ground.  Promptly the Cossack wreaks vengeance
by slaughtering seven of the hostages on the spot; but he deems it wise
to take refuge on his ship, weigh anchor and slip out to sea carrying
with him by way of a lesson to the natives, two interpreters, three
boys, and twenty-five women, two of whom die of cruelty before the ship
is well out of Oonalaskan waters.

He may have intended dropping the captives at some near island on his
way westward; for only blind rage could have rendered him so
indifferent to their fate as to carry such a cargo of human beings back
to the home harbor of Kamchatka.  Meanwhile a hurricane caught
Pushkareff's ship, chopping the wave tops off and driving her ahead
under bare poles.  When the gale abated, the ship was off Kamchatka's
shore and the Cossack in a quandary about entering the home port with
proofs of his cruelty in the cowering group of Indian women huddled
above the deck.  {87} On pretence of gathering berries, six sailors
were landed with fourteen women.  Two watched their chance and dashed
for liberty in the hills.  On the way back to the ship, one woman was
brained to death by a sailor, Gorelin; seeing which, the others on
board the jolly-boat took advantage of the confusion, sprang overboard,
and suicided.  But there were still a dozen hostages on the ship.
These might relate the crime of their companions' murder.  It was an
old trick out of an ugly predicament--destroy the victim in order to
dodge retribution, or torture it so it would destroy itself.  Fourteen
had been tortured into suicide.  The rest Pushkareff seized, bound, and
threw into the sea.

To be sure, on official investigation, Betshevin, the Siberian
merchant, was subjected to penal tortures for this crime on his ship;
and an imperial decree put an end to free trade among the fur hunters
to America.  Henceforth a government permit must be obtained; but that
did not undo the wrong to the Aleutian Islanders.  Primal instincts,
unhampered by law, have a swift, sure, short-cut to justice; to the
fine equipoise between weak and strong.  It was two years before
punishment was meted out by the Russian government for this crime.
What did the Aleut Indian care for the law's slow jargon?  His only law
was self-preservation.  His furs had been plundered from him; his
hunting-fields overrun by brigands from he knew not where; his home
outraged; his warriors poisoned, bludgeoned, done to death; his women
and children {88} kidnapped to lifelong slavery; the very basic, brute
instincts of his nature tantalized, baited, tortured to dare!

It was from January to September of 1762, that Pushkareff had run his
mad course of outrage on Oonalaska Island.  It was in September of the
same year, that four other Russian ships, all unconscious of the
reception Pushkareff's evil doings had prepared for them, left
Kamchatka for the Aleutian Islands.  Each of the ships was under a
commander who had been to the islands before and dealt fairly by the

Betshevin's ship with Pushkareff, the Cossack, reached Kamchatka
September 25.  On the 6th there had come to winter at the harbor a ship
under the same Alexei Drusenin, who had met Pushkareff the year before
on the way to Oonalaska.  Drusenin was outward bound and must have
heard the tales told of Pushkareff's crew; but the latter had brought
back in all nearly two thousand otter,--half sent by Drusenin, half
brought by himself,--and Oonalaska became the lodestar of the otter
hunters.  The spring of '63 found Drusenin coasting the Aleutians.
Sure enough, others had heard news of the great find of the new
hunting-grounds.  Three other Russian vessels were on the grounds
before him, Glottoff and Medvedeff at Oomnak, Korovin halfway up
Oonalaska.  No time for Drusenin to lose!  A spy sent out came back
with the report that every part of Oomnak and {89} Oonalaska was being
thoroughly hunted except the extreme northeast, where the mountain
spurs of Oonalaska stretch out in the sea like a hand.  Up to the
northeast end, then, where the tide-rip thunders up the rock wall like
an inverted cataract, posts Drusenin where he anchors his ship in
Captain Harbor, and has winter quarters built before snow-fall of '63.

An odd thing was--the Indian chiefs became so very friendly they
voluntarily brought hostages of good conduct to Drusenin.  Surely
Drusenin was in luck!  The best otter-hunting grounds in the world!  A
harbor as smooth as glass, mountain-girt, sheltered as a hole in a
wall, right in the centre of the hunting-grounds, yet shut off from the
rioting north winds that shook the rickety vessels to pieces!  And best
of all, along the sandy shore between the ship and the mountains that
receded inland tier on tier into the clouds--the dome-roofed,
underground dwellings of two or three thousand native hunters ready to
risk the surf of the otter hunt at Drusenin's beck!  Just to make sure
of safety after Pushkareff's losses of ten men on this island, Drusenin
exchanges a letter or two with the commanders of those other three
Russian vessels.  Then he laid his plans for the winter's hunt.  But so
did the Aleut Indians; and their plans were for a man-hunt of every
Russian within the limits of Oonalaska.

A curious story is told of how the Aleuts arranged to have the uprising
simultaneous and certain.  A bunch of sticks was carried to the chief
of every tribe.  {90} These were burned one a day, like the skin wick
in the seal oil of the Aleut's stone lamp.  When the last stick had
burned, the Aleuts were to rise.

Now, the northeast coast was like the fingers of a hand.  Drusenin had
anchored between two mountain spurs like fingers.  Eastward, across the
next mountain spur was another village--Kalekhta, of some forty houses;
eastward of Kalekhta, again, ten miles across, another village of
seventy families on the island of Inalook.  Drusenin decided to divide
his crew into three hunting parties: one of nine men to guard the ship
and trade with the main village of Captain Harbor; a second of eleven,
to cross to the native huts at Kalekhta; a third of eleven, to cross
the hills, and paddle out to the little island of Inalook.  To the
island ten miles off shore, Drusenin went himself, with Korelin, a
wrecked Russian whom he had picked up on the voyage.  On the way they
must have passed all three mountains, that guard the harbor of
Oonalaska, the waterfalls that pour over the cliffs near Kalekhta, and
the little village itself where eleven men remained to build huts for
the winter.  From the village to the easternmost point was over quaking
moss ankle-deep, or through long, rank grass, waist-high and
water-rotted with sea-fog.  Here they launched their boat of sea-lion
skin on a bone frame, and pulled across a bay of ten miles to the
farthermost hunting-grounds.  Again, the natives overwhelm Drusenin
with kindness.  The Russian keeps his sentinels as {91} vigilant as
ever pacing before the doors of the hut; but he goes unguarded and
unharmed among the native dwellings.  Perhaps, poor Drusenin was not
above swaggering a little, belted in the gay uniform Russian officers
loved to wear, to the confounding of the poor Aleut who looked on the
pistols in belt, the cutlass dangling at heel, the bright shoulder
straps and colored cuffs, as insignia of a power almighty.  Anyway,
after Drusenin had sent five hunters out in the fields to lay
fox-traps, early in the morning of December 4, he set out with a couple
of Cossack friends to visit a native house.  Korelin, the rescued
castaway, and two other men kept guard at the huts.[2]

At that time, and until very recently, the Aleuts' winter dwelling was
a domed, thatched roof over a cellar excavation three or four feet
deep, circular and big enough to lodge a dozen families.  The entrance
to this was a low-roofed, hall-like annex, dark as night, leading with
a sudden pitch downward into the main circle.  Now, whether the Aleut
had counted burning fagots, or kept tally some other way, the count was
up.  Barely had Drusenin stepped into the dark of the inner circle,
when a blow clubbed down on his skull that felled him to earth.  The
Cossack, coming second, had stumbled over the prostrate body before
either had any suspicion of danger; and in a {92} second, both were cut
to pieces by knives traded to the Indians the day before for otter

Shevyrin, the third man, happened to be carrying an axe.  One against a
score, he yet kept his face to the enemy, beat a retreat backward
striking right and left with the axe, then turned and fled for very
life, with a shower of arrows and lances falling about him, that
drenched him in his own blood.  Already a crash of muskets told of
battle at the huts.  More dead than alive, the pursued Russian turned
but to strike his assailants back.  Then, he was at the huts almost
stumbling over the man who had probably been doing sentinel duty but
was now under the spears of the crowd--when the hut door opened; and
Korelin, the Russian, dashed out flourishing a yard-long bear knife
under protection of the other guard's musket fire from the window,
slashed to death two of the nearest Indians, cut a swath that sent the
others scattering, seized the two wounded men, dragged them inside the
hut, and slammed the door to the enraged yells of the baffled warriors.

Some one has said that Oonalaska and Oomnak are the smelting furnaces
of America.  Certainly, the volcanic caves supplied sulphur that the
natives knew how to use as match lighters.  The savages were without
firearms, but might have burned out the Russians had it not been for
the constant fusillade of musketry from door and roof and parchment
windows of the hut.  Two of the Russians were wounded and weak {93}
from loss of blood.  The other two never remitted their guard day or
night for four days, neither sleeping nor eating, till the wounded
pair, having recovered somewhat, seized pistols and cutlasses, waited
till a quelling of the musketry tempted the Indians near, then sallied
out with a flare of their pistols, that dropped three Aleuts on the
spot, wounded others, and drove the rest to a distance.  But in the
sortie, there had been flaunted in their very faces, the coats and caps
and daggers of the five hunters Drusenin had sent fox trapping.
Plainly, the fox hunters had been massacred.  The four men were alone
surrounded by hundreds of hostiles, ten miles from the shores of
Oonalaska, twenty from the other hunting detachments and the ship.  But
water was becoming a desperate need.  To stay cooped up in the hut was
to be forced into surrender.  Their only chance was to risk all by a
dash from the island.  Dark was gathering.  Through the shadowy dusk
watched the Aleuts; but the pointed muskets of the two wounded men kept
hostiles beyond distance of spear-tossing, while the other two Russians
destroyed what they could not carry away, hauled down their skin boat
to the water loaded with provisions, ammunition, and firearms, then
under guard of levelled pistols, pulled off in the darkness across the
sea, heaving and thundering to the night tide.

But the sea was the lesser danger.  Once away from the enemy, the four
fugitives pulled for dear life {94} across the tumbling waves--ten
miles the way they went, one account says--to the main shore of
Oonalaska.  It was pitch dark.  When they reached the shore, they could
neither hear nor see a sign of life; but the moss trail through the
snows had probably become well beaten to the ship by this time--four
months from Drusenin's landing--or else the fugitives found their way
by a kind of desperation; for before daybreak they had run within
shouting distance of the second detachment of hunters stationed at
Kalekhta.  Not a sound!  Not a light!  Perhaps they had missed their
way!  Perhaps the Indians on the main island are still friendly!
Shevyrin or Korelin utters a shout, followed by the signal of a musket
shot for that second party of hunters to come out and help.  Scarcely
had the crash died over the snows, when out of the dark leaped a
hundred lances, a hundred faces, a hundred shrieking, bloodthirsty
savages.  Now they realize the mistake of having landed, of having
abandoned the skin boat back on the beach there!  But no time to
retrace steps!  Only a wild dash through the dark, catching by each
other to keep together, up to a high precipitous rock they know is
somewhere here, with the sea behind, sheer drop on each side, and but
one narrow approach!  Here they make their stand, muskets and sword in
hand, beating the assailants back, wherever a stealthy form comes
climbing up the rock to hurl spear or lance!  Presently, a
well-directed fusillade drives the savages off!  While night still hid
{95} them, the four fugitives scrambled down the side of the rock
farthest from the savages, and ran for the roadstead where the ship had

As dawn comes up over the harbor something catches the attention of the
runners.  It is the main hatch, the planking, the mast poles of the
ship, drawn up and scattered on the beach.  Drusenin's ship has been
destroyed.  The crew is massacred; they, alone, have escaped; and the
nearest help is one of those three other Russian ships anchored
somewhere seventy miles west.  Without waiting to look more, the three
men ran for the mountains of the interior, found hiding in one of the
deep-grassed ravines, scooped out a hole in the sand, covered this with
a sail white as snow, and crawled under in hiding for the day.

The next night they came down to the shore, in the hope, perhaps, of
finding refugees like themselves.  They discovered only the mangled
bodies of their comrades, literally hacked to pieces.  A saint's image
and a book of prayers lay along the sand.  Scattered everywhere were
flour sacks, provisions, ships' planking.  These they carried back as
well as they could three miles in the mountains.  A pretty legend is
told of a native hunter following their tracks to this retreat, and not
only refusing to betray them but secretly carrying provisions; and some
such explanation is needed to know how the four men lived hidden in the
mountains from December 9 to February 2, 1764.

If they had known where those other Russian ships {96} were anchored,
they might have struck across country to them, or followed the coast by
night; but rival hunters did not tell each other where they anchored,
and tracks across country could have been followed.  The trackless sea
was safer.

There is another story of how the men hid in mountain caves all those
weeks, kept alive by the warmth of hot springs, feeding on clams and
shell-fish gathered at night.  This, too, may be true; for the
mountains inland of Oonalaska Harbor are honeycombed with caves, and
there are well-known hot springs.

By February they had succeeded in making a skin skiff of the leather
sacks.  They launched this on the harbor and, stealing away unseen,
rounded the northwest coast of Oonalaska's hand projecting into the
sea, travelling at night southwestward, seeking the ships of Korovin,
or Medvedeff, or Glottoff.  Now the majority of voyagers don't care to
coast this part of Oonalaska at night during the winter in a safe ship;
and these men had nothing between them and the abyss of the sea but the
thickness of a leather sack badly oiled to keep out water.  Their one
hope was--a trader's vessel.

All night, for a week, they coasted within the shadow of the shore
rocks, hiding by day, passing three Indian villages undiscovered.
Distance gave them courage.  They now paddled by day, and just as they
rounded Makushin Volcano, lying like a great white corpse five thousand
feet above Bering Sea, they came on five {97} Indians, who at once
landed and running alongshore gave the alarm.  The refugees for the
second time sought safety on a rock; but the rising tide drove them
off.  Seizing the light boat, they ran for shelter in a famous cave of
the volcanic mountain.  Here, for five weeks, they resisted constant
siege, not a Russian of the four daring to appear within twenty yards
of the cave entrance before a shower of arrows fell inside.  Their only
food now was the shell-fish gathered at night; their only water, snow
scooped from gutters of the cave.  Each night one watched by turn while
the others slept; and each night one must make a dash to gather the
shell-fish.  Five weeks at last tired the Indians' vigilance out.  One
dark night the Russians succeeded in launching out undetected.  That
day they hid, but daybreak of the next long pull showed them a ship in
the folds of the mountain coast--Korovin's vessel.  They reached the
ship on the 30th of March.  Poor Shevyrin soon after died from his
wounds in the underground hut, but Korovin's troubles had only begun.

Ivan Korovin's vessel had sailed out of Avacha Bay, Kamchatka, just two
weeks before Pushkareff's crew of criminals came home.  It had become
customary for the hunting vessels to sail to the Commander
Islands--Bering and Copper--nearest Kamchatka, and winter there, laying
up a store of sea-cow meat, the huge bovine of the sea, which was soon
to be exterminated by the hunters.  Here Korovin met Denis Medvedeff's
{98} crew, also securing a year's supply of meat for the hunt of the
sea-otter.  The two leaders must have had some inkling of trouble
ahead, for Medvedeff gave Korovin ten more sailors, and the two signed
a written contract to help each other in time of need.

In spring (1763) both sailed for the best sea-otter fields then
known--Oonalaska and Oomnak, Korovin with thirty-seven men, Medvedeff,
forty-nine.  In order not to interfere with each other's hunt,
Medvedeff stopped at Oomnak, Korovin went on to Oonalaska.  Anchoring
sixty yards from shore, not very far from the volcano caves, where
Drusenin's four fugitives were to fight for their lives the following
spring, Korovin landed with fourteen men to reconnoitre.  Deserted
houses he saw, but never a living soul.  Going back to the ship for
more men, he set out again and went inland five miles where he found a
village of three hundred souls.  Three chiefs welcomed him, showed
receipts for tribute of furs given by the Cossack collector of a
previous ship, and gave over three boys as hostages of good
conduct--one, called Alexis, the son of a chief.  Meanwhile, letters
were exchanged with Medvedeff down a hundred miles at Oomnak.  All was
well.  The time had not come.  It was only September--about the same
time that Drusenin up north was sending out his hunters in three

Korovin was so thoroughly satisfied all was safe, that he landed his
entire cargo and crew, and while the carpenters were building wintering
huts out of {99} driftwood, set out himself, with two skin boats, to
coast northeast.  For four days he followed the very shore that the
four escaping men were to cruise in an opposite direction.  About forty
miles from the anchorage he met Drusenin himself, leading twenty-five
Russian hunters out from Captain Harbor.  Surely, if ever hunters were
safe, Korovin's were, with Medvedeff's forty-nine men southwest a
hundred miles, and Drusenin's thirty sailors forty miles northeast.
Korovin decided to hunt midway between Drusenin's crew and Medvedeff's.
It is likely that the letters exchanged among the different commanders
from September to December were arranging that Drusenin should keep to
the east of Oonalaska, Korovin to the west of the island, while
Medvedeff hunted exclusively on the other island--Oomnak.

By December Korovin had scattered twenty-three hunters southwest,
keeping a guard of only sixteen for the huts and boat.  Among the
sixteen was little Alexis, the hostage Indian boy.  The warning of
danger was from the mother of the little Aleut, who reported that sixty
hostiles were advancing on the ship under pretence of trading
sea-otter.  Between the barracks and the sea front flowed a stream.
Here the Cossack guard took their stand, armed head to foot, permitting
only ten Indians at a time to enter the huts for trade.  The Aleuts
exchanged their sea-otter for what iron they could get, and departed
without any sign.  Korovin had almost concluded it was a false {100}
alarm, when three Indian servants of Drusenin's ship came dashing
breathless across country with news that the ship and all the Russians
on the east end of Oonalaska had been destroyed.

Including the three newcomers, Korovin had only nineteen men; and his
hostages numbered almost as strong.  The panic-stricken sailors were
for burning huts and ship, and escaping overland to the twenty-three
hunters somewhere southwest.

It was the 10th of December--the very night when Drusenin's fugitives
had taken to hiding in the north mountains.  While Korovin was still
debating what to do, an alarm came from beneath the keel of the ship.
In the darkness, the sea was suddenly alive with hundreds of skin
skiffs each carrying from eight to twenty Indian warriors.  One can
well believe that lanterns swinging from bow and stern, and lights
behind the talc windows of the huts, were put suddenly out to avoid
giving targets for the hurricane of lances and darts and javelins that
came hurtling through the air.  Two Russians fell dead, reducing
Korovin's defence to fourteen; but a quick swing of musketry exacted
five Indian lives for the two dead whites.  At the end of four days,
the Russians were completely exhausted.  The besiegers withdrew to a
cave on the mountain side, perhaps to tempt Korovin on land.

Quick as thought, Korovin buried his iron deep under the barracks, set
fire to the huts, and concentrated all his forces on the vessel, where
he wisely carried the {101} hostages with him and sheered fifty yards
farther off shore.  Had the riot of winter winds not been driving
mountain billows along the outer coast, he might have put to sea; but
he had no proof the twenty-three men gone inland hunting to the south
might not be yet alive, and a winter gale would have dashed his ship to
kindling wood outside the sheltered harbor.

Food was short, water was short, and the ship over-crowded with
hostages.  To make matters worse, scurvy broke out among the crew; and
the hostiles renewed the attack, surrounding the Russian ship in forty
canoes with ten to twenty warriors in each.  An ocean vessel of the
time, or even a pirate ship, could have scattered the assailants in a
few minutes; but the Russian hunting vessels were long, low,
flat-bottomed, rickety-planked craft, of perhaps sixty feet in length,
with no living accommodation below decks, and very poor hammock space
above.  Hostages and scurvy-stricken Russians were packed in the hold
with the meat stores and furs like dying rats in a garbage barrel.  It
was as much as a Russian's life was worth, to show his head above the
hatchway; and the siege lasted from the middle of December to the 30th
of March, when Drusenin's four refugees, led by Korelin, made a final
dash from Makushin Volcano, and gained Korovin's ship.

With the addition of the fugitives, Korovin now had eighteen Russians.
The Indian father of the hostage, {102} Alexis, had come to demand back
his son.  Korovin freed the boy at once.  By the end of April, the
spring gales had subsided, and though half his men were prostrate with
scurvy, there was nothing for Korovin to do but dare the sea.  They
sailed out from Oonalaska on April 26 heading back toward Oomnak, where
Medvedeff had anchored.

In the straits between the different Aleutian Islands runs a terrific
tide-rip.  Crossing from Oonalaska to Oomnak, Korovin's ship was caught
by the counter-currents and cross winds.  Not more than five men were
well enough to stand upon their feet.  The ship drifted without pilot
or oarsmen, and driving the full force of wind and tide foundered on
the end of Oomnak Island.  Ammunition, sails, and skins for fresh
rowboats were all that could be saved of the wreck.  One
scurvy-stricken sailor was drowned trying to reach land; another died
on being lifted from the stiflingly close hold to fresh air.  Eight
hostages sprang overboard and escaped.  Of the sixteen white men and
four hostages left, three were powerless from scurvy.  This last blow
on top of a winter's siege was too much for the Russians.  Their
enfeebled bodies were totally exhausted.  Stretching sails round as a
tent and stationing ten men at a time as sentinels, they slept the
first unbroken sleep they had known in five months.  The tired-out
sentinels must have fallen asleep at their places; for just as day
dawned came a hundred savages, stealthy and silent, seeking the ship
that had slipped {103} out from Oonalaska.  Landing without a sound,
they crept up within ten yards of the tents, stabbed the sleeping
sentinels to death, and let go such a whiz of arrows and lances at the
tent walls, that three of the Indian hostages inside were killed and
every Russian wounded.

Korovin had not even time to seize his firearms.  Cutlass in hand,
followed by four men--all wounded and bleeding like himself--he dashed
out, slashed two savages to death, and scattered the rest at the sword
point.  A shower of spears was the Indians' answer to this.  Wounded
anew, the five Russians could scarcely drag themselves back to the tent
where by this time the others had seized the firearms.

All that day and night, a tempest lashed the shore.  The stranded ship
fell to pieces like a boat of paper; and the attacking islanders
strewed the provisions to the winds with shrieks of laughter.  On the
30th of April, the assailants began firing muskets, which they had
captured from Korovin's massacred hunters; but the shots fell wide of
the mark.  Then they brought sulphur from the volcanic caves, and set
fire to the long grass on the windward side of the tents.  Again,
Korovin sallied out, drove them off, and extinguished the fire.  May,
June, and half July he lay stranded here, waiting for his men to
recover, and when they recovered, setting them to build a boat of skin
and driftwood.

Toward the third week of July, a skin boat twenty-four feet long was
finished.  In this were laid the wounded; and the well men took to the
paddles.  All {104} night they paddled westward and still westward,
night after night, seeking the third vessel--that of Denis Medvedeff,
who had come with them the year before from Bering Island.  On the
tenth day, Russian huts and a stone bath-house were seen on the shore
of a broad inlet.  Not a soul was stirring.  As Korovin's boat
approached, bits of sail, ships' wreckage, and provisions were seen
scattered on the shore.  Fearing the worst, Korovin landed.  Signs of a
struggle were on every hand; and in the bath-house, still clothed but
with thongs round their necks as if they had been strangled to death,
lay twenty of Medvedeff's crew.  Closer examination showed Medvedeff
himself among the slain.  Not a soul was left to tell the story of the
massacre, not a word ever heard about the fate of the others in the
crew.  Korovin's last hope was gone.  There was no third ship to carry
him home.  He was in the very act of ordering his men to construct
winter quarters, when Stephen Glottoff, a famous hunter on the way back
from Kadiak westward, appeared marching across the sands followed by
eight men.  Glottoff had heard of the massacres from natives on the
north shore with whom he was friendly; and had sent out rescue parties
to seek the survivors on the south coast of whom the Indian spies told.

The poor fugitives embraced Glottoff, and went almost mad with joy.
But like the prospector, who suffers untold hardships seeking the
wealth of gold, these seekers of wealth in furs could not relinquish
the {105} wild freedom of the perilous life.  They signed contracts to
hunt with Glottoff for the year.

It is no part of this story to tell how the Cossack, Solovieff, entered
on a campaign of punishment for the Aleuts when he came.  Whole
villages were blown up by mines of powder in birch bark.  Fugitives
dashing from the conflagration were sabred by the Russians, as many as
a hundred Aleuts butchered at a time, villages of three hundred
scattered to the winds, warriors bound hand and foot in line, and shot

Suffice it to say, scurvy slaked Solovieff's vengeance.  Both Aleuts
and Russians had learned the one all-important lesson--the Christian's
doctrine of retribution, the scientist's law of equilibrium--that brute
force met by brute force ends only in mutual destruction, in anarchy,
in death.  Thirty years later, Vancouver visiting the Russians could
report that their influence on the Indians was of the sort that springs
from deep-rooted kindness and identity of interests.  Both sides had
learned there was a better way than the wolf code.[3]

[1] See Coxe's _Discoveries of the Russians_.

[2] Some of the old records spell the name of this wrecked Russian
"Korelin," as if it were "Gorelin," the sailor, of Pushkareff's crew,
who brained the Indian girl; I am unable to determine whether "Korelin"
and "Gorelin" are the same man or not.  If so, then the punishment came
home indeed.

[3] It would be almost impossible to quote all the authorities on this
massacre of the Russians, and every one who has written on Russian fur
trade in America gives different scraps of the tragedy; but nearly all
can be traced back to the detailed account in Coxe's _Discoveries of
the Russians between Asia and America_, and on this I have relied, the
French edition of 1781.  The Census Report, Vol. VIII, 1880, by Ivan
Petroff, is invaluable for topography and ethnology of this period and
region.  It was from Korelin, one of the four refugees, that the
Russian archivists took the first account of the massacre; and Coxe's
narrative is based on Korelin's story, though the tradition of the
massacre has been handed down from father to child among Oonalaskans to
this day, so that certain caves near Captain Harbor, and Makushin
Volcano are still pointed out as the refuge of the four pursued





Siberian Exiles under Polish Soldier of Fortune plot to overthrow
Garrison of Kamchatka and escape to West Coast of America as Fur
Traders--A Bloody Melodrama enacted at Bolcheresk--The Count and his
Criminal Crew sail to America

Fur hunters, world over, live much the same life.  It was the beaver
led French voyageurs westward to the Rocky Mountains.  It was the
sea-otter brought Russian coasters cruising southward from Alaska to
California; and it was the little sable set the mad pace of the
Cossacks' wild rush clear across Siberia to the shores of the Pacific.
The tribute that the riotous Cossacks collected, whether from Siberia
or America, was tribute in furs.

The farther the hunters wandered, the harder it was to obtain supplies
from the cities.  In each case--in New France, on the Missouri, in
Siberia--this compelled resort to the same plan; a grand rallying
place, a yearly rendezvous, a stamping-ground for hunters and traders.
Here merchants brought their goods; {107} hunters, their furs;
light-fingered gentry, offscourings from everywhere, horses to sell, or
smuggled whiskey, or plunder that had been picked up in ways untold.

The great meeting place for Russian fur traders was on a plain east of
the Lena River, not far from Yakutsk, a thousand miles in a crow line
from the Pacific.  In the fall of 1770 there had gathered here as
lawless birds of a feather as ever scoured earth for prey.  Merchants
from the inland cities had floated down supplies to the plain on white
and black and lemon-painted river barges.  Long caravans of pack horses
and mules and tented wagons came rumbling dust-covered across the
fields, bells ajingle, driven by Cossacks all the way from St.
Petersburg, six thousand miles.  Through snow-padded forests, over
wind-swept plains, across the heaving mountains of two continents,
along deserts and Siberian rivers, almost a year had the caravans
travelled.  These, for the most part, carried ship supplies--cordage,
tackling, iron--for vessels to be built on the Pacific to sail for

Then there rode in at furious pace, from the northern steppes of
Siberia, the Cossack tribute collectors--four hundred of them centred
here--who gathered one-tenth of the furs for the Czar, nine-tenths for
themselves: drunken brawlers they were, lawless as Arabs; and the only
law they knew was the law they wielded.  Tartar hordes came with horses
to sell, freebooters of the boundless desert, banditti in league with
the Cossacks to smuggle across the {108} borders of the Chinese.  And
Chinese smugglers, splendid in silk attire, hobnobbed with exiles, who
included every class from courtiers banished for political offences to
criminals with ears cut off and faces slit open.  What with drink and
play and free fights--if the Czar did not hear, it was because he was
far away.

On this August night half a dozen new exiles had come in with the St.
Petersburg cavalcade.  The prisoners were set free on parole to see the
sights, while their Cossack guard went on a spree.  The new-comers
seemed above the common run of criminals sent to Siberia, better
clothed, of the air born to command, and in possession of money.  The
leading spirit among them was a young Pole, twenty-eight years or
thereabouts, of noble rank, Mauritius Benyowsky, very lame from a
battle wound, but plainly a soldier of fortune who could trump every
trick fate played him, and give as good knocks as he got.  Four others
were officers of the army in St. Petersburg, exiled for political
reasons.  Only one, Hippolite Stephanow, was a criminal in the sense of
having broken law.

Hoffman, a German surgeon, welcomed them to his quarters at Yakutsk.
Where were they going?--To the Pacific?--"Ah; a long journey from St.
Petersburg; seven thousand miles!" That was where he was to go when he
had finished surgical duties on the Lena.  By that they knew he, too,
was an exile, practising his profession on parole.  He would advise
{109} them--cautiously feeling his ground--to get transferred as soon
as they could from the Pacific coast to the Peninsula of Kamchatka;
that was safer for an exile--fewer guards, farther from the Cossacks of
the mainland; in fact, nearer America, where exiles might make a
fortune in the fur trade.  Had they heard of schemes in the air among
Russians for ships to plunder furs in America "with powder and hatchets
and the help of God," as the Russians say?

[Illustration: Mauritius Augustus, Count Benyowsky.]

Benyowsky, the Pole, jumped to the bait like a trout to the fly.  If
"powder and hatchets and the help of God"--_and an exile crew_--could
capture wealth in the fur trade of western America, why not a break for

They didn't scruple as to means, these men.  Why should they?  They had
been penned in festering dungeons, where the dead lay, corrupting the
air till living and dead became a diseased mass.  They had been knouted
for differences of political opinion.  They {110} had been whisked off
at midnight from St. Petersburg--mile after mile, week after week,
month after month, across the snows, with never a word of explanation,
knowing only from the jingle of many bells that other prisoners were in
the long procession.  Now their hopes took fire from Hoffman's tales of
Russian plans for fur trade.  The path of the trackless sea seems
always to lead to a boundless freedom.

In a word, before they had left Hoffman, they had bound themselves by
oath to try to seize a fur-trading ship to escape across the Pacific.
Stephanow, the common convict, was the one danger.  He might play spy
and obtain freedom by betraying all.  To prevent this, each man was
required to sign his name to an avowal of the conspirators' aim.
Hoffman was to follow as soon as he could.  Meanwhile he kept the
documents, which were written in German; and Benyowsky, the Pole, was
elected chief.

The Cossack guards came sulkily back from their gambling bout.  The
exiles were placed in elk-team sleds, and the remaining thousand miles
to the Pacific resumed.  But the spree had left the soldiers with sore
heads.  At the first camping place they were gambling again.  On the
sixth day out luck turned so heavily against one soldier that he lost
his entire belongings to the captain of the troops, flew in a towering
rage, and called his officer some blackguard name.  The officer
nonchalantly took over the {111} gains, swallowed the insult, and
commanded the other Cossacks to tie the fellow up and give him a
hundred lashes.

For a moment consternation reigned.  There are some unwritten laws even
among the Cossacks.  To play the equal, when there was money to win,
then act the despot when offended, was not according to the laws of
good fellows among Cossacks.  Before the officer knew where he was, he
had been seized, bundled out of the tent, stripped naked and flogged on
the bare back three hundred strokes.

He was still roaring with rage and pain and fear when a coureur came
thundering over the path from Yakutsk with word that Hoffman had died
suddenly, leaving certain papers suspected of conspiracy, which were
being forwarded for examination to the commander on the Pacific.  The
coureur handed the paper to the officer of the guards.  Not a man of
the Cossacks could read German.  What the papers were the terrified
exiles knew.  If word of the plot reached the Pacific, they might
expect knouting, perhaps mutilation, or lifelong, hopeless servitude in
the chain-gangs of the mines.

One chance of frustrating detection remained--the Cossack officer
looked to the exiles for protection against his men.  For a week the
cavalcade moved sullenly on, the soldiers jeering in open revolt at the
officer, the officer in terror for his life, the exiles quaking with
fear.  The road led to a swift, somewhat {112} dangerous river.  The
Cossacks were ordered to swim the elk teams across.  The officer went
on the raft to guard the prisoners, on whose safe delivery his own life
depended.  With hoots of laughter, that could not be reported as
disobedience, the Cossacks hustled the snorting elk teams against the
raft.  A deft hoist from the pole of some unseen diver below, and the
raft load was turned helter-skelter upside down in the middle of the
river, the commander going under heels up!  When officer and exiles
came scrambling up the bank wet as water-rats, they were welcomed with
shouts by the Cossacks.  Officer and prisoners lighted a fire to dry
clothes.  Soldiers rummaged out the brandy casks, and were presently so
deep in drunken sleep not a man of the guard was on his feet.
Benyowsky waited till the commander, too, slept.  Then the Pole limped,
careful as a cat over cut glass, to the coat drying before the fire,
drew out the packet of documents, and found what the exiles had
feared--Hoffman's papers in German, with orders to the commander on the
Pacific to keep the conspirators fettered till instructions came the
next year from St. Petersburg.

The prisoners realized that all must be risked in one desperate cast of
the dice.  "I and time against all men," says the proverb.  No fresh
caravan would be likely to come till spring.  Meanwhile they must play
against time.  Burning the packet to ashes, they replaced it with a
forged order instructing the commander on the Pacific to treat the
exiles with all {113} freedom and liberality, and to forward them by
the first boat outward bound for Kamchatka.

The governor at Okhotsk did precisely as the packet instructed.  He
allowed them out on parole.  He supplied them with clothing and money.
He forwarded them to Kamchatka on the first boat outward bound, the
_St. Peter and Paul_, with forty-three of a crew and ten cannon, which
had just come back from punishing American Indians for massacring the

A year less two days from the night they had been whisked out of St.
Petersburg, the exiles reached their destination--the little log fort
or _ostrog_ of Bolcheresk, about twenty miles up from the sea on the
inner side of Kamchatka, one hundred and fifty miles overland from the
Pacific.  The rowboat conducting the exiles up-stream met rafts of
workmen gliding down the current.  Rafts and rowboat paused within
call.  The raftsmen wanted news from Europe.  Benyowsky answered that
exiles had no news.  "Who are you?" an officer demanded bluntly.
Always and unconsciously playing the hero part of melodrama, Benyowsky
replied--"Once a soldier and a general, now a slave."  Shouts of
laughter broke from the raftsmen.  The enraged Pole was for leaping
overboard and thrashing them to a man for their mockery; but they
called out, "no offence had been meant": they, too, were exiles; their
laughter was welcome; they had suffered enough in Kamchatka to know
that when men must laugh or weep, better, much better, laugh!  Even as
they {114} laughed came the tears.  With a rear sweep, the rafts headed
about and escorted the newcomers to the fortress, where they were
locked for the night.  After all, a welcome to exile was a sardonic
sort of mirth.

Kamchatka occupies very much the same position on the Pacific as Italy
to the Mediterranean, or Norway to the North Sea.  Its people were
nomads, wild as American Indians, but Russia had established garrisons
of Cossacks--collectors of tribute in furs--all over the peninsula, of
whom four hundred were usually moving from place to place, three
hundred stationed at Bolcheresk, the seat of government, on the inner
coast of the peninsula.

The capital itself was a curious conglomeration of log huts stuck away
at the back of beyond, with all the gold lace and court satins and
regimental formalities of St. Petersburg in miniature.  On one side of
a deep ravine, was the fort or _ostrog_--a palisaded courtyard of some
two or three hundred houses, joined together like the face of a street,
with assembly rooms, living apartments, and mess rooms on one side of a
passageway, kitchens, servants' quarters, and barracks for the Cossacks
on the other side of the aisle.  Two or three streets of these
double-rowed houses made up the fort.  Few of the houses contained more
than three rooms, but the rooms were large as halls, one hundred by
eighty feet, some of them, with whip-sawed floors, clay-chinked log
walls, parchment {115} windows, and furniture hewed out of the green
fir trees of the mountains.  But the luxurious living made up for the
bareness of furnishings.  Shining samovars sung in every room.  Rugs of
priceless fur concealed the rough flooring.  Chinese silks, Japanese
damasks,--Oriental tapestries smuggled in by the fur traders,--covered
the walls; and richest of silk attired the Russian officers and their
ladies, compelled to beguile time here, where the only break in
monotony was the arrival of fresh ships from America, or exiles from
St. Petersburg, or gambling or drinking or dancing or feasting the long
winter nights through, with, perhaps, a duel in the morning to settle
midnight debts.  Just across a deep ravine from the fort was another
kind of settlement--ten or a dozen _yurts_, thatch-roofed, circular
houses half underground like cellars, grouped about a square hall or
barracks in the centre.  In this village dwelt the exiles, earning
their living by hunting or acting as servants for the officers of the

Here, then, came Benyowsky and his companions, well received because of
forged letters sent on, but with no time to lose; for the first spring
packet overland might reveal their conspiracy.  The raftsmen, who had
welcomed them, now turned hosts and housed the newcomers.  The Pole was
assigned to an educated Russian, who had been eight years in exile.

"How can you stand it?  Do you fear death too much to dare one blow for
liberty?" Benyowsky asked the other, as they sat over their tea that
first night.

{116} But a spy might ask the same question.  The Russian evaded
answer, and a few hours later showed the Pole books of travel, among
which were maps of the Philippines, where twenty or thirty exiles might
go _if they had a leader_.

Leader?  Benyowsky leaped to his feet with hands on pistol and cutlass
with which he had been armed that morning when Governor Nilow liberated
them to hunt on parole.  Leader?  Were they men?  Was this settlement,
too, ready to rise if they had a leader?

No time to lose!  Within a month, cautious as a man living over a
volcano, the Polish nobleman had enlisted twenty recruits from the
exile settlement, bound to secrecy by oath, and a score more from a
crew of sailor exiles back from America, mutinous over brutal treatment
by their captain.  In addition to secrecy, each conspirator bound
himself to implicit and instant obedience to Benyowsky, their chief,
and to slay each with his own hand any member of the band found guilty
of betrayal.  But what gave the Pole his greatest power was his
relation to the governor.  The coming of the young nobleman had caused
a flutter in the social life of the dull little fort.  He had been
appointed secretary to Governor Nilow, and tutor to his children.  The
governor's lady was the widow of a Swedish exile; and it took the Pole
but a few interviews to discover that wife and family favored the
exiles rather than their Russian lord.  In fact, the good woman
suggested to the Pole that he {117} should prevent her sixteen-year-old
daughter becoming wife to a Cossack by marrying her himself.

The Pole's first move was to ask the governor's permission to establish
a colony of exile farmers in the south of the peninsula.  The request
was granted.  This created a good excuse for the gathering of the
provisions that would be needed for the voyage on the Pacific; but when
the exiles further requested a fur-trading vessel to transport the
provisions to the new colony, their design was balked by the
unsuspecting governor granting them half a hundred row boats, too frail
to go a mile from the coast.  There seemed no other course but to seize
a vessel by force and escape, but Benyowsky again played for time.  The
governor's daughter discovered his plot through her servant planning to
follow one of the exiles to sea; but instead of betraying him to her
Russian father, she promised to send him red clippings of thread as
danger signals if the governor or his chancellor got wind of the

Their one aim was to get away from Asia before fresh orders could come
overland from Yakutsk.  Ice still blocked the harbor in April, but the
_St. Peter and Paul_, the armed vessel that had brought the exiles
across the sea from the mainland, lay in port and was already enlisting
a crew for the summer voyage to America.  The Pole sent twelve of his
men to enlist among the crew, and nightly store provisions in the hold.
The rest of the band were set to manufacturing cartridges, and buying
or borrowing all the firearms {118} they could obtain on the pretence
of hunting.  Word was secretly carried from man to man that, when a
light was hoisted on the end of a flagstaff above the Benyowsky hut,
all were to rally for the settlement across the ravine from the fort.

The crisis came before the harbor had opened.  Benyowsky was on a sled
journey inland with the governor, when an exile came to him by night
with word that one of the conspirators had lost his nerve and
determined to save his own neck by confessing all to the governor.

The traitor was even now hard on the trail to overtake the governor.
Without a moment's wavering, Benyowsky sent the messenger with a flask
of poisoned brandy back to meet the man.

The Pole had scarcely returned to his hut in the exile village, when
the governor's daughter came to him in tears.  Ismyloff, a young
Russian trader, who had all winter tried to join the conspirators as a
spy, had been on the trail when the traitor was poisoned and was even
now closeted with Governor Nilow.

It was the night of April 23.  No sooner had the daughter gone than the
light was run up on the flagstaff, the bridge across the ravine broken
down, arms dragged from hiding in the cellars, windows and doors
barricaded, sentinels placed in hiding along the ditch between village
and fort.  For a whole day, no word came.  Governor and chancellor were
still busy examining witnesses.  In the morning came a maid {119} from
the governor's daughter with a red thread of warning, and none too
soon, for at ten o'clock, a Cossack sergeant brought a polite
invitation from the governor for the pleasure of M. Benyowsky's company
at breakfast.

M. Benyowsky returns polite regrets that he is slightly indisposed, but
hopes to give himself the pleasure later.

The sergeant winked his eyes and opined it was wiser to go by fair
means than to be dragged by main force.

The Pole advised the sergeant to make his will before repeating that

Noon saw two Cossacks and an officer thundering at the Pole's door.
The door opened wide.  In marched the soldiers, armed to the teeth; but
before their clicking heels had ceased to mark time, the door was shut
again.  Benyowsky had whistled.  A dozen exiles rose out of the floor.
Cossacks and captors rolled in a heap.  The soldiers were bound head to
feet, and bundled into the cellar.  Meanwhile the sentinels hidden in
the ravine had captured Ismyloff, the nephew of the chancellor, and two
other Russians, who were added to the captives in the cellar; and the
governor changed his tactics.  A letter was received from the
governor's daughter pleading with her lover to come and be reconciled
with her father, who had now no prejudice against the exiles; but in
the letter were two or three tiny red threads such as might have {120}
been pulled out of a dress sleeve.  The letter had been written under

Benyowsky's answer was to marshal his fifty-seven men in three
divisions round the village; one round the house, the largest hidden in
the dark on the fort side of the ravine, a decoy group stationed in the
ditch to draw an attack.

By midnight, the sentinels sent word that the main guard of Cossacks
had reached the ravine.  The decoy had made a feint of resistance.  The
Cossacks sent back to the fort for reinforcements.  The Pole waited
only till nearly all the Cossacks were on the ditch bank, then
instructing the little band of decoys to keep up a sham fight, poured
his main forces through the dark, across the plain at a run, for the
fort.  Palisades were scaled, gates broken down, guards stabbed where
they stood!  Benyowsky's men had the fort and the gates barricaded
again before the governor could collect his senses.  As Benyowsky
entered the main rooms, the enraged commander seized a pistol, which
missed fire, and sprang at the Pole's throat, roaring out he would see
the exiles dead before he would surrender.  The Pole, being lame, had
swayed back under the onslaught, when the circular slash of a cutlass
in the hand of an exile officer severed the governor's head from his

Twenty-eight Cossacks were put to the sword inside the fort; but the
exiles were not yet out of their troubles.  Though they had seized the
armed vessel at once and {121} transferred to the hold the entire loot
of the fort,--furs, silks, supplies, gold,--it would be two weeks
before the ice would leave the port.  Meanwhile the two hundred
defeated Cossacks had retreated to a hill, and sent coureurs scurrying
for help to the other forts of Kamchatka.  Within two weeks seven
hundred Cossacks would be on the hills; and the exiles, whose supplies
were on board the vessel, would be cut off in the fort and starved into

No time to waste, Benyowsky!  Not a woman or child was harmed, but
every family in the fort was quickly rounded up in the chapel.  Round
this, outside, were piled chairs, furniture, pitch, tar, powder,
whale-oil.  Promptly at nine in the morning, three women and twelve
young girls--wives and daughters of the Cossack officers--were
despatched to the Cossack besiegers on the hill with word that unless
the Cossacks surrendered their arms to the exiles and sent down fifty
soldiers as hostages of safety for the exiles till the ship could
sail--precisely at ten o'clock the church would be set on fire.

The women were seen to ascend the hill.  No signal came from the
Cossacks.  At a quarter past nine Benyowsky kindled fires at each of
the four angles of the church.  As the flames began to mount a forest
of handkerchiefs and white sheets waved above the hill, and a host of
men came spurring to the fort with all the Cossacks' arms and fifty-two

{122} The exiles now togged themselves out in all the gay regimentals
of the Russian officers.  Salutes of triumph were fired from the
cannon.  A _Te Deum_ was sung.  Feast and mad wassail filled both day
and night till the harbor cleared.  Even the Cossacks caught the madcap
spirit of the escapade, and helped to load ammunition on the _St. Peter
and Paul_.  Nor were old wrongs forgiven.  Ismyloff was bundled on the
vessel in irons.  The chancellor's secretary was seized and compelled
to act as cook.  Men, who had played the spy and tyrant, now felt the
merciless knout.  Witnesses, who had tried to pry into the exiles'
plot, were hanged at the yard-arm.  Nine women, relatives of exiles,
who had been compelled to become the wives of Cossacks, now threw off
the yoke of slavery, donned the costly Chinese silks, and joined the
pirates.  Among these was the governor's daughter, who was to have
married a Cossack.

On May 11, 1771, the Polish flag was run up on the _St. Peter and
Paul_.  The fort fired a God-speed--a heartily sincere one, no
doubt--of twenty-one guns.  Again the _Te Deum_ was chanted; again, the
oath of obedience taken by kissing Benyowsky's sword; and at five
o'clock in the evening the ship dropped down the river for the sea,
with ninety-six exiles on board, of whom nine were women; one, an
archdeacon; half a dozen, officers of the imperial army; one, a
gentleman in waiting to the Empress; at least a dozen, convicts of the
blackest dye.

{123} The rest of Benyowsky's adventures read more like a page from
some pirate romance than sober record of events on the west coast of
America.  Barely had the vessel rounded the southern cape of the
peninsula into the Pacific, when Ismyloff, the young Russian trader,
who had been carried on board in irons, rallied round Benyowsky such a
clamor of mutineers, duels were fought on the quarter-deck, the
malcontents clapped in handcuffs again, and the ringleaders tied to the
masts, where knouting enough was laid on to make them sue for peace.

The middle of May saw the vessel anchoring on the west coast of Bering
Island, where a sharp lookout was kept for Russian fur traders, and
armed men must go ashore to reconnoitre before Benyowsky dared venture
from the ship.  The Pole's position was chancy enough to satisfy even
his melodramatic soul.  Apart from four or five Swedes, the entire crew
of ninety-six was Russian.  Benyowsky was for sailing south at once to
take up quarters on some South Sea island, or to claim the protection
of some European power.  The Russian exiles, of whom half were
criminals, were for coasting the Pacific on pirate venture, and
compelled the Pole to steer his vessel for the fur hunters' islands of

The men sent to reconnoitre Bering Island came back with word that
while they were gathering driftwood on the south shore, they had heard
shots and met five Russians belonging to a Saxon exile, who had {124}
turned fur hunter, deposed the master of his ships, gathered one
hundred exiles around him, and become a trader on his own account.  The
Saxon requested an interview with Benyowsky.  What was the Pole to do?
Was this a decoy to test his strength?  Was the Saxon planning to
scuttle the Pole's vessel, too?  Benyowsky's answer was that he would
be pleased to meet his Saxon comrade in arms on the south shore, each
side to approach with four men only, laying down arms instantly on
sight of each other.  The two exile pirates met.  Each side laid down
arms as agreed.  Ochotyn, the Saxon, was a man of thirty-six years, who
had come an exile on fur trading vessels, gathered a crew of one
hundred and thirty-four around him, and, like the Pole, become a
pirate.  His plan in meeting Benyowsky was to propose vengeance on
Russia: let the two ships unite, go back to Siberia, and sack the
Russian ports on the Pacific.  But the Pole had had enough of Russia.
He contented himself with presenting his brother pirate with one
hundred pounds of ammunition; and the two exiles sat round a campfire
of driftwood far into the night, spinning yarns of blasted hopes back
in Europe, and desperate venture here on the Pacific.  The Saxon's
headquarters were on Kadiak, where he had formed alliance with the
Indians.  Hither he advised the Pole to sail for a cargo of furs.

Ismyloff, the mutineer, was marooned on Bering Island.  Ice-drift had
seemed to bar the way {125} northward through Bering Straits.  June saw
Benyowsky far eastward at Kadiak on the south shore of Alaska,
gathering in a cargo of furs; and from the sea-otter fields of Kadiak
and Oonalaska, Benyowsky sailed southwest, past the smoking volcanoes
of the Aleutians, vaguely heading for some of those South Sea islands
of which he used to read in the exile village of Kamchatka.

Not a man of the crew knew as much about navigation as a schoolboy.
They had no idea where they were going, or where the ship was.  As day
after day slipped past with no sight but the heaving sea, the Russian
landsmen became restive.  Provisions had dwindled to one fish a day;
and scarcely a pint of water for each man was left in the hold.  In
flying from Siberian exile, were they courting a worse fate?
Stephanow, the criminal convict, who had crossed Siberia with the Pole,
dashed on deck demanding a better allowance of water as the ship
entered warmer and warmer zones.  The next thing the Pole knew,
Stephanow had burst open the barrel hoops of the water kegs to quench
his thirst.  By the time the guard had gone down the main hatch to
intercept him, Stephanow and a band of Russian mutineers had trundled
the brandy casks to the deck and were in a wild debauch.  The main
hatch was clapped down, leaving the mutineers in possession of the
deck, till all fell in drunken torpor, when Benyowsky rushed his
soldiers up the fore scuttle, snapped handcuffs on {126} the rebels,
and tied them to the masts.  In the midst of this disorder, such a
hurricane broke over the ocean that the tossing yard-arms alternately
touched water.

To be sure, Benyowsky had escaped exile; but his ship was a hornets'
nest.  After the storm all hands were busy sewing new sails.  The old
sails were distributed as trousers for the ragamuffin crew.  For ten
days no food was tasted but soup made from sea-otter skins.  Then birds
were seen, and seaweed drifted past the vessel; and a wild hope mounted
every heart of reaching some part of Japan.

On sunset of July 15, the Pole's watch-dog was noticed standing at the
bow, sniffing and barking.  Two or three of the ship's hands dashed up
to the masthead, vowing they would not come down till they saw land.
Suddenly the lookout shouted, Land!  The exiles forgot their woes.
Even the mutineers tied to the masts cheered.  Darker and darker grew
the cloud on the horizon.  By daybreak the cloud had resolved itself to
a shore before the eager eyes of the watching crew.  The ship had
scarcely anchored before every man was overboard in a wild rush for the
fresh water to be found on land.  Tents were pitched on the island; and
the wanderers of the sea rested.

It is no part of this narrative to tell of Benyowsky's adventures on
Luzon of the Philippines, or the Ladrones,--whichever it was,--how he
scuttled {127} Japanese sampans of gold and pearls, fought a campaign
in Formosa, and wound up at Macao, China, where all the rich cargo of
sea-otter brought from America was found to be water rotted; and
Stephanow, the criminal convict, left the Pole destitute by stealing
and selling all the Japanese loot.

This part of the story does not concern America; and the Pole's whole
life has been told by Jokai, the Hungarian novelist, and Kotzebue, the
Russian dramatist.

Benyowsky got passage to Europe from China on one of the East India
Company ships, whose captain was uneasy enough at having so many
pirates on board.  In France he obtained an appointment to look after
French forts in Madagascar; but this was too tame an undertaking for
the adventure-loving Pole.  He threw up his appointment, returned to
Europe, interested English merchants in a new venture, sailed to
Baltimore in the _Robert Anne_ of twenty cannon and four hundred and
fifty tons, interested merchants there in his schemes, and departed
from Baltimore October 25, 1784, to conquer Madagascar and set up an
independent commercial government.  Here he was slain by the French
troops on the 23d of May, 1786--to the ruin of those Baltimore and
London merchants who had advanced him capital.  His own account of his
adventures is full of gross exaggerations; but even the Russians were
so impressed with the prowess of his valor that a few years later, when
Cook sailed to Alaska, Ismyloff could not be brought to mention his
name; {128} and when the English ships went on to Kamchatka, they found
the inhabitants hidden in the cellars, for fear the Polish pirate had
returned.  But like many heroes of misfortune, Benyowsky could not
stand success.  It turned his head.  He entered Macao with the airs of
an emperor, that at once discredited him with the solid people.  If he
had returned to the west coast of America, as a fur trader, he might
have wrested more honors from Russia; but his scheme to capture an
island of which he was to be king, ended in ruin for himself and his

[1] It may as well be acknowledged that Mauritius Augustus, Count
Benyowsky (pronounced by himself Be-nyov-sky), is a liar without a peer
among the adventurers of early American history.  If it were not that
his life was known to the famous men of his time, his entire memoirs
from 1741 to 1771 might be rejected as fiction of the yellow order; but
the comical thing is, the mendacious fellow cut a tremendous swath in
his day.  The garrisons of Kamchatka trembled at his name twenty-five
years after his escapades.  Ismyloff, who became a famous trader in the
Russian Fur Company, could not be induced to open his mouth about the
Pole to Cook, and actually made use of the universal fear of Benyowsky
among Russians, to keep Cook from learning Russian fur trade secrets,
when the Englishman went to Kamchatka, by representing that Cook was a
pirate, too.  The _Gentleman's Magazine_ for June, 1772, contained a
letter from Canton, dated November 19, 1771, giving a full account of
the pirate's arrival there with his mutineers and women refugees.  The
Bishop Le Bon of Macao writes, September 24, 1771: "Out of his
equipage, there remain no more than eight men in health.  All the rest
are confined to their beds.  For two months they suffered hunger and
thirst."  Captain King of Cook's staff writes of Kamchatka: "We were
informed that an exiled Polish officer named Beniowski had seized upon
a galliott, lying at the entrance of the harbor, and had forced on
board a number of Russian sailors, sufficient to navigate her; that he
had put on shore a part of the crew . . . among the rest, Ismyloff."
In Paris he met and interested Benjamin Franklin.  Hyacinth de
Magellan, a descendant of the great discoverer, advanced Benyowsky
money for the Madagascar filibustering expedition.  So did certain
merchants of Baltimore in 1785.  On leaving England, Benyowsky gave his
memoirs to Magellan, who passed their editing over to William Nicholson
of the Royal Society, by {129} whom they were given to the world in
1790.  German, French, and Russian translations followed.  This called
forth Russia's account of the matter, written by Ivan Ryumin, edited by
Berg, St. Petersburg, 1822.  These accounts, with the facts as cited
from contemporaries, enable one to check the preposterous exaggerations
of the Pole.  Of late years, between drama and novels, quite a
Benyowsky literature has sprung up about this Cagliostro of the sea.
His record in the continental armies preceding his exile would fill a
book by itself; and throughout all, Benyowsky appears in the same
light, an unscrupulous braggart lying gloriously, but withal as
courageous as he was mendacious.

[Transcriber's note: the "e" and "o" in the above "Be-nyov-sky" are
actually e-macron (Unicode U+0113) and o-macron (Unicode U+014D).]








How the Sea Rover was attacked and ruined as a Boy on the Spanish Main
off Mexico--His Revenge in sacking Spanish Treasure Houses and crossing
Panama--The Richest Man in England, he sails to the Forbidden Sea,
scuttles all the Spanish Ports up the West Coast of South America and
takes Possession of New Albion (California) for England

If a region were discovered where gold was valued less than cartloads
of clay, and ropes of pearls could be obtained in barter for strings of
glass beads, the modern mind would have some idea of the frenzy that
prevailed in Spain after the discovery of America by Columbus.  Native
temples were found in Chile, in Peru, in Central America, in Mexico,
where gold literally lined the walls, silver paved the floors, and
handfuls of pearls were as thoughtlessly thrown in the laps of the
conquerors as shells might be tossed at a modern clam-bake.

Within half a century from the time Spain first learned of America,
Cortés not only penetrated Mexico, but sent his corsairs up the west
coast of the {134} continent.  Pizarro conquered Peru.  Spanish ships
plied a trade rich beyond dreams of avarice between the gold realms of
Peru and the spice islands of the Philippines.  The chivalry of the
Spanish nobility suddenly became a chivalry of the high seas.
Religious zeal burned to a flame against those gold-lined pagan
temples.  It was easy to believe that the transfer of wedges of pure
gold from heathen hands to Spain was a veritable despoiling of the
devil's treasure boxes, glorious in the sight of God.  The trackless
sea became the path to fortune.  Balboa had deeper motives than
loyalty, when, in 1513, on his march across Panama and discovery of the
Pacific, he rushed mid-deep into the water, shouting out in swelling
words that he took possession of earth, air, and water for Spain "for
all time, past, present, or to come, without contradiction, . . . north
and south, with all the seas from the Pole Arctic to the Pole
Antarctic, . . . both now, and as long as the world endures, until the
final day of judgment." [1]

Shorn of noise, the motive was simply to shut out the rest of the world
from Spain's treasure box.  The Monroe Doctrine was not yet born.  _The
whole Pacific was to be a closed sea_!  To be sure, Vasco da Gama had
found the way round the Cape of Good Hope to the Indian Ocean; and
Magellan soon after passed through the strait of his name below South
America {135} right into the Pacific Ocean; but round the world by the
Indian Ocean was a far cry for tiny craft of a few hundred tons; and
the Straits of Magellan were so storm-bound, it soon became a common
saying that they were a closed door.  Spain sent her sailors across
Panama to build ships for the Pacific.  The sea that bore her treasure
craft--millions upon millions of pounds sterling in pure gold, silver,
emeralds, pearls--was as closed to the rest of the world as if walled
round with only one chain-gate; and that at Panama, where Spain kept
the key.

That is, the sea _was_ shut till Drake came coursing round the world;
and his coming was so utterly impossible to the Spanish mind that half
the treasure ships scuttled by the English pirate mistook him for a
visiting Spaniard till the rallying cry, "God and Saint George!"
wakened them from their dream.

It was by accident the English first found themselves in the waters of
the Spanish Main.  John Hawkins had been cruising the West Indies
exchanging slaves for gold, when an ominous stillness fell on the sea.
The palm trees took on the hard glister of metal leaves.  The sunless
sky turned yellow, the sea to brass; and before the six English ships
could find shelter, a hurricane broke that flailed the fleet under
sails torn to tatters clear across the Gulf of Mexico to Vera Cruz, the
stronghold of Spanish power.

[Illustration: Sir John Hawkins.]

But Hawkins feared neither man nor devil.  He {136} reefed his
storm-torn sails, had the stoppers pulled out of his cannon in
readiness, his gunners alert, ran up the English ensign, and boldly
towed his fleet into port directly under Spanish guns.  Sending a
messenger ashore, he explained that he was sorry to intrude on
forbidden waters, but that he needed to careen his ships for the repair
of leakages, and now asked permission from the viceroy to refit.
Perhaps, in his heart, the English adventurer wasn't sorry to get an
inner glimpse of Mexico's defences.  As he waited for permission, there
sailed into the harbor the Spanish fleet itself, twelve merchantmen
rigged as frigates, loaded with treasure to the value of one million
eight hundred thousand pounds.  The viceroy of Mexico, Don Martin
Henriquez himself, commanded the fleet.  English and Spanish ships
dipped colors to each other as courteous hidalgoes might have doffed
hats; and the guns roared each other salutes, that set the seas
churning.  Master John Hawkins quaffed mug after mug of foaming beer
with a boisterous boast that if the Spaniards thought to frighten _him_
with a waste of powder and smoke, he could play the same game, and
"singe the don's beard."

Came a messenger, then, clad in mail to his teeth, very pompous, very
gracious, very profuse of welcome, with a guarantee in writing from the
viceroy of security for Hawkins while dismantling the English ships.
In order to avoid clashes among the common soldiers, the fortified
island was assigned for the English to {137} disembark.  It was the
12th of August, 1568.  Darkness fell with the warm velvet caress of a
tropic sea.  Half the crew had landed, half the cannon been trundled
ashore for the vessels to be beached next day, when Hawkins noticed
torches--a thousand torches--glistening above the mailed armor of a
thousand Spanish soldiers marching down from the fort and being swiftly
transferred to the frigates.  A blare of Spanish trumpets blew to arms!
The waters were suddenly alight with the flare of five fire-rafts
drifting straight where the disarmed English fleet lay moored.  Hawkins
had just called his page to hand round mugs of beer, when a cannon-shot
splintering through the mast arms overhead ripped the tankard out of
his hand.[2]

"God and Saint George," thundered the enraged Englishman, "down with
the traitorous devils!"

No time to save sailors ashore!  The blazing rafts had already bumped
keels with the moored fleet.  No chance to raise anchors!  The Spanish
frigates were already abreast in a life-and-death grapple, soldiers
boarding the English decks, sabring the crews, hurling hand grenades
down the hatches to blow up the powder magazines.  Hawkins roared "to
cut the cables."  It was a hand-to-hand slaughter on decks slippery
with blood.  No light but the musketry fire and glare of burning masts!
The little English company were fighting like a wild beast trapped,
when with a {138} thunderclap that tore bottom out of hull--Hawkins's
ship flew into mid-air, a flaring, fiery wreck--then sank in the
heaving trough of the sea, carrying down five hundred Spaniards to a
watery grave.  Cutlass in hand, head over heels went Hawkins into the
sea.  The hell of smoke, of flaming mast poles, of blazing musketry, of
churning waters--hid him.  Then a rope's end flung out by some friend
gave handhold.  He was up the sides of a ship, that had cut hawsers and
off before the fire-rafts came!  Sails were hoisted to the seaward
breeze.  In the carnage of fire and blood, the Spaniards did not see
the two smallest English vessels scudding before the wind as if
fiend-chased.  Every light on the decks was put out.  Then the dark of
the tropic night hid them.  Without food, without arms, with scarcely a
remnant of their crews--the two ships drifted to sea.

Not a man of the sailors ashore escaped.  All were butchered, or taken
prisoners for a fate worse than butchery--to be torn apart in the
market-place of Vera Cruz, baited in the streets to the yells of
on-lookers, hung by the arms to out-of-doors scaffolding to die by
inches, or be torn by vultures.  The two ships at sea were in terrible
plight.  North, west, south was the Spanish foe.  Food there was none.
The crews ate the dogs, monkeys, parrots on board.  Then they set traps
for the rats of the hold.  The starving seamen begged to be marooned.
They would risk Spanish cruelty to escape starvation.  Hawkins landed
{139} three-quarters of the remnant crews either in Yucatan or Florida.
Then he crept lamely back to England, where he moored in January, 1569.

Of the six splendid ships that had spread their sails from Plymouth,
only the _Minion_ and _Judith_ came back; and those two had been under
command of a thick-set, stocky, red-haired English boy about
twenty-four years of age--Francis Drake of Devon, one of twelve sons of
a poor clergyman, who eked out a living by reading prayers for the
Queen's Navy Sundays, playing sailor week days.  Francis, the eldest
son, was born in the hull of an old vessel where the family had taken
refuge in time of religious persecution.  In spite of his humble
origin, Sir Francis Russell had stood his godfather at baptism.  The
Earl of Bedford had been his patron.  John Hawkins, a relative,
supplied money for his education.  Apprenticed before the mast from his
twelfth year, Drake became purser to Biscay at eighteen; and so
faithfully had he worked his way, when the master of the sloop died, it
was bequeathed to young Drake.  Emulous of becoming a great sailor like
Hawkins, Drake sold the sloop and invested everything he owned in
Hawkins's venture to the West Indies.  He was ruined to his last penny
by Spanish treachery.  It was almost a religion for England to hate
Spain at that time.  Drake hated tenfold more now.  Spain had taught
the world to keep off her treasure box.  Would Drake accept the lesson,
or challenge it?

{140} Men who master destiny rise, like the Phenix, from the ashes of
their own ruin.  In the language of the street, when they fall--these
men of destiny--they make a point of falling _up_stairs.  Amid the ruin
of massacre in Mexico, Drake brought away one fact--memory of Spanish
gold to the value of one million eight hundred thousand pounds.  Where
did it come from?  Was the secret of that gold the true reason for
Spain's resentment against all intruders?  Drake had coasted Florida
and the West Indies.  He knew they yielded no such harvest.  Then it
must come from one of three other regions--South America, Central
America, Mexico.

For two years Drake prospected for the sources of that golden wealth.
In the _Dragon_ and _Swan_, he cruised the Spanish Main during 1570.
In 1571 he was out again in the _Swan_.  By 1572 he knew the secret of
that gold--gold in ship-loads, in caravans of one thousand mules, in
masses that filled from cellar to attic of the King's Treasure House,
where tribute of one-fifth was collected for royalty.  It came from the
subjugated Kingdom of Peru, by boat up the Pacific to the Port of
Panama, by pack-train across the isthmus--mountainous, rugged, forests
of mangroves tangled with vines, bogs that were bottomless--to Nombre
de Dios, the Spanish fort on the Atlantic side, which had become the
storehouse of all New Spain.  Drake took counsel of no one.

Next year he was back on the Spanish Main, in the {141} _Pacha_,
forty-seven men; his brother John commanding the _Swan_ with twenty-six
of a crew, only one man older than fifty, the rest mere boys with hate
in their hearts for Spanish blood, love in their hearts for Spanish
gold.  Touching at a hidden cove for provisions left the year before,
Drake found this warning from a former comrade, stuck to the bark of a
tree by a hunting knife:--

"_Captain Drake--if you do fortune into this port, haste away; for the
Spaniards have betrayed this place, and taken all away that you left
here--your loving friend--John Garret._"

Heeding the warning, Drake hastened away to the Isle of Pinos, off the
isthmus, left the ships at a concealed cove here, armed fifty-three of
his boldest fellows with muskets, crossbows, pikes, and spontoons.
Then he called for drummers and trumpeters, and rowed in a small boat
for Nombre de Dios, the treasure house of New Spain.  The small boat
kept on the offing till dark, then sent ashore for some
Indians--half-breeds whom Spanish cruelty had driven to revolt.  This
increased Drake's force to one hundred and fifty men.  Silently, just
as the moon emerged from clouds lighting up harbor and town, the
long-boat glided into Nombre de Dios.  A high platform, mounted with
brass cannon, fronted the water.  Behind were thirty houses,
thatch-roofed, whitewashed, palisaded, surrounded by courtyards with an
almost European pomp.  The King's Treasure House stood at one end of
the market.  Near it was a chapel with high wooden steeple.

{142} A Spanish ship lay furled in port.  From this glided out a punt
poled like mad by a Spaniard racing to reach the platform first.  Drake
got athwart the fellow's path, knocked him over, gagged his yells, and
was up the platform before the sleepy gunner on guard was well awake.
The sentry only paused to make sure that the men scrambling up the fort
were not ghosts.  Then he tore at the top of his speed for the
alarm-bell of the chapel and, clapping down the hatch door of the
steeple stairs in the faces of the pursuing Englishmen, rang the bells
like a demon possessed.

Leaving twelve men to hold the platform as a retreat, Drake sent
sixteen to attack the King's Treasure just at the moment he himself,
with his hundred men, should succeed in drawing the entire Spanish
garrison to a sham battle on the market-place.  The cannon on the
platform were spiked and overturned.  Drums beating, trumpets blowing,
torches aflare, the English freebooter marched straight to the market.
Up at the Treasure House, John Drake and Oxenham had burst open the
doors of the store-room just as the saddled mules came galloping to
carry the booty beyond danger.  A lighted candle on the cellar stair
showed silver piled bar on bar to the value of one million pounds.
Down on the market, the English trumpeter lay dead.  Drake had fallen
from a sword slash and, snatched up by comrades, the wound stanched by
a scarf, was carried back to the boat, where the raiders made good
their escape, richer by a million pounds with the loss of only one man.

{143} Drake cruised the Spanish Main for six more months.  From the
Indians he learned that the mule trains with the yearly output of
Peruvian gold would leave the Pacific in midwinter to cross overland to
Nombre de Dios.  No use trying to raid the fort again!  Spain would not
be caught napping a second time.  But Pedro, a Panama Indian, had
volunteered to guide a small band of lightly equipped English inland
behind Nombre de Dios, to the halfway house where the gold caravans
stopped.  The audacity of the project is unparalleled.  Eighteen boys
led by a man not yet in his thirtieth year accompanied by Indians were
to invade a tangled thicket of hostile country, cut off from retreat,
the forts of the enemy--the cruelest enemy in Christendom--on each
side, no provisions but what each carried in his haversack!

Led by the Indian Pedro, the freebooters struck across country, picked
up the trail behind Nombre de Dios, marched by night, hid by day,
Indian scouts sending back word when a Spaniard was seen, the English
scudding to ambush in the tangled woods.  Twelve days and nights they
marched.  At ten in the morning of February 11, they were on the Great
Divide.  Pedro led Drake to the top of the hill.  Up the trunk of an
enormous tree, the Indians had cut steps to a kind of bower, or
lookout.  Up clambered Francis Drake.  Then he looked westward.

Mountains, hills, forested valleys, rolled from his feet westward.
Beyond--what?  The shining {144} expanse of the fabled South Sea!  The
Pacific silver in the morning light!  A New World of Waters, where the
sun's track seemed to pave a new path, a path of gold, to the mystic
Orient!  Never before had English eyes seen these waters!  Never yet
English prow cut these waves!  Where did they lead--the endlessly
rolling billows?  For Drake, they seemed to lead to a New World of
Dreams--dreams of gold, of glory, of immortal fame.  He came down from
the lookout so overcome with a great inspiration that he could not
speak.  Then, as with Balboa, the fire of a splendid enthusiasm lighted
up the mean purposes of the adventurer to a higher manhood.  Before his
followers, he fell on his knees and prayed Almighty God to grant him
the supreme honor of sailing an English ship on that sea!

That night the Indian came back with word that the mule train laden
with gold was close on the trail.  Drake scattered his men on each side
of the road flat on their faces in high grass.  Wealth was almost in
their grasp.  Hope beat riotous in the young bloods.  No sound but the
whir of wings as great tropic insects flitted through the dark with
flashes of fire; or the clank of a soldier unstrapping haversack to
steel courage by a drink of grog!  An hour passed!  Two hours before
the eager ears pressed to earth detected a padded hoof-beat over grass.
Then a bell tinkled, as the leader of the pack came in sight.  Drunk
with the glory of the day, or too much grog, some fool sailor leaped in
{145} mid-air with an exultant yell!  In a second the mule train had

By the time Drake came to the halfway house,[3] the gold was hidden in
the woods, and the Spaniards fleeing for their lives; though an old
chronicle declares "the general" went from house to house assuring the
Spanish ladies they were safe.  The Spaniards of Tierra Firme were
simply paralyzed with fright at the apparition of pirates in the centre
of the kingdom.  Then scouts brought word of double danger: on the
Atlantic side, Spanish frigates were searching for Drake's ships; from
the Pacific, two hundred horsemen were advancing in hot pursuit.
Between the two--was he trapped?--Not he!  Overland went a scout to the
ships--Drake's own gold toothpick as token--bidding them keep offshore;
he would find means to come out to them.  Then he retreated over the
trail at lightning pace, sleeping only in ambush, eating in snatches,
coming out on the coast far distant from Nombre de Dios and Spanish
frigates.  Binding driftwood into a raft, Drake hoisted sail of flour
sacks.  Saying good-by to the Indian, the freebooter noticed Pedro's
eyes wander to the gold-embossed Turkish cimeter in his own hand, and
at once presented scabbard and blade to the astonished savage.  In
gratitude the Indian tossed three wedges of gold to the raft now
sheering out with the tide to sea.  These Drake gave {146} to his men.
Six hours the raft was drifting to the sails on the offing, and such
seas were slopping across the water-logged driftwood, the men were to
their waists in water when the sail-boats came to the rescue.

On Sunday morning, August 9, 1573, the ships were once more in
Plymouth.  Whispers ran through the assembled congregations of the
churches that Drake, the bold sea-rover, was entering port loaded with
foreign treasure; and out rushed every man, woman, and child, leaving
the scandalized preachers thundering to empty pews.

Drake was now one of the richest men in England.  At his own cost he
equipped three frigates for service under Essex in Ireland, and through
the young Earl was introduced to the circle of Elizabeth's advisers.
To the Queen he told his plans for sailing an English ship on the South
Sea.  To her, no doubt, he related the tales of Spanish gold freighting
that sea, closed to the rest of the world.  Good reason for
England--Spain's enemy--to prove that the ocean, like air, was free to
all nations!  The Pope's Bull dividing off the southern hemisphere
between Portugal and Spain mattered little to a nation belligerently
Protestant, and less to a seaman whose dauntless daring had raised him
from a wharf-rat to Queen's adviser.  Elizabeth could not yet wound
Spain openly; but she received Drake in audience, and presented him a
magnificent sword with the words--"Who striketh thee, Drake, striketh

[Illustration: Queen Elizabeth knighting Drake.]

{147} Five ships, this time, he led out from Plymouth in November of
1577.  Gales drove him back.  It was December before his fleet was at
sea--the _Pelican_ of one hundred tons and twenty or thirty cannon
under Drake, Thomas Doughty, a courtier second to Drake, the
_Elizabeth_ of eighty tons, the _Swan_, _Christopher_, and _Marygold_
no larger than fishing schooners; manned in all by one hundred and
sixty sailors, mostly boys.

Outward bound for trade in Egypt, the world was told, but as
merchantmen, the ships were regally equipped--Drake in velvets and gold
braid, served by ten young gentlemen of noble birth, who never sat or
covered in his presence without permission; service of gold plate at
the mess table, where Drake dined alone like a king to the music of
viols and harps; military drill at every port, and provisions enough
aboard to go round the world, not just to Egypt.

January saw the fleet far enough from Egypt, at the islands off the
west coast of Africa, where three vessels were scuttled, the crews all
put ashore but one Portuguese pilot carried along to Brazil as guide.
Thomas Doughty now fell in disfavor by openly acting as equal in
command with Drake.  Not in Egypt, but at Port St. Julian--a southern
harbor of South America--anchored Drake's fleet.  The scaffold where
Magellan had executed mutineers half a century before still stood in
the sands.

The _Christopher_ had already been sent adrift as useless.  The _Swan_
was now broken up as unseaworthy, {148} leaving only the _Pelican_, the
_Elizabeth_, and the _Marygold_.  One thing more remained to be
done--the greatest blot across the glory of Drake.  Doughty was
defiant, a party growing in his favor.  When sent as prisoner to the
_Marygold_, he had angered every man of the crew by high-handed
authority.  Drake dared not go on to unknown, hostile seas with a
mutiny, or the chance of a mutiny brewing.  Whether justly or unjustly,
Doughty was tried at Port St. Julian under the shadow of Magellan's old
scaffold, for disrespect to his commander and mutiny; and was
pronounced guilty by a jury of twelve.  A council of forty voted his
death.  The witnesses had contradicted themselves as if in terror of
Drake's displeasure; and some plainly pleaded that the jealous crew of
the _Marygold_ were doing an innocent gentleman to death.  The one
thing Drake would not do, was carry the trouble maker along on the
voyage.  Like dominant spirits world over, he did not permit a life
more or less to obstruct his purpose.  He granted Doughty a choice of
fates--to be marooned in Patagonia, or suffer death on the spot.
Protesting his innocence, Doughty spurned the least favor from his
rival.  He refused the choice.

Solemnly the two, accuser and accused, took Holy Communion together.
Solemnly each called on God as witness to the truth.  A day each spent
in prayer, these pirate fellows, who mixed their religion with their
robbery, perhaps using piety as sugar-coating for their ill-deeds.
Then they dined together in the {149} commander's tent,--Fletcher, the
horrified chaplain, looking on,--drank hilariously to each other's
healths, to each other's voyage whatever the end might be, looked each
in the eye of the other without quailing, talking nonchalantly, never
flinching courage nor balking at the grim shadow of their own stubborn
temper.  Doughty then rose to his feet, drank his last bumper, thanked
Drake graciously for former kindness, walked calmly out to the old
scaffold, laid his head on the block, and suffered death.  Horror fell
on the crew.  Even Drake was shaken from his wonted calm; for he sat
apart, his velvet cloak thrown back, slapping his crossed knees, and
railing at the defenders of the dead man.[4]  To rouse the men, he had
solemn service held for the crew, and for the first time revealed to
them his project for the voyage on the Pacific.  After painting the
glories of a campaign against Spanish ports of the South Seas, he wound
up an inspiriting address with the rousing assurance that after this
voyage, "_the worst boy aboard would never nede to goe agayne to sea,
but be able to lyve in England like a right good gentleman_."
Fletcher, the chaplain, who secretly advocated the dead man's cause,
was tied to a mast pole in bilboes, with the inscription hung to his
neck--"_Falsest knave that liveth_."

On August 17 they departed from "the port {150} accursed," for the
Straits of Magellan, that were to lead to Spanish wealth on the

The superstitious crews' fears of disaster for the death of Doughty
seemed to become very real in the terrific tempests that assailed the
three ships as they entered the straits.  Gales lashed the cross tides
to a height of thirty feet, threatening to swamp the little craft.
Mountains emerged shadowy through the mists on the south.  Roiling
waters met the prows from end to end of the straits.  Topsails were
dipped, psalms of thanks chanted, and prayers held as the ships came
out on the west side into the Pacific on the 6th of September.  In
honor of the first English vessel to enter this ocean, Drake renamed
his ship "_Golden Hind_."  {151} The gales continued so furiously,
Drake jocosely called the sea, _Mare Furiosum_, instead of Pacific.
The first week of October storms compelled the vessels to anchor.  In
the raging darkness that night, the explosive rip of a snapping hawser
was heard behind the stern of the _Golden Hind_.  Fearful cries rose
from the waves for help.  The dark form of a phantom ship lurched past
in the running seas--the _Marygold_ adrift, loose from her anchor,
driving to the open storm; fearful judgment--as the listeners
thought--for the crew's false testimony against Doughty; for, as one
old record states, "they could by no means help {152} spooming along
before the sea;" and the _Marygold_ was never more seen.

[Illustration: The Golden Hind.]

Meanwhile like disaster had befallen the _Golden Hind_, the cable
snapping weak as thread against the drive of tide and wind.  Only the
_Elizabeth_ kept her anchor grip, and her crew became so
panic-stricken, they only waited till the storm abated, then turned
back through the straits, swift heels to the stormy, ill-fated sea, and
steered straight for England, where they moored in June.  Towed by the
_Golden Hind_, now driving southward before the tempest, was a
jolly-boat with eight men.  The mountain seas finally wrenched the
tow-rope from the big ship, and the men were adrift in the open boat.
Their fortunes are a story in itself.  Only one of the eight survived
to reach England after nine years' wandering in Brazil.[6]

Onward, sails furled, bare poles straining to the storm, drifted Drake
in the _Golden Hind_.  Luck, that so often favors daring, or the
courage, that is its own talisman, kept him from the rocks.  With
battened hatches he drove before what he could not {153} stem,
southward and south, clear down where Atlantic and Pacific met at Cape
Horn, now for the first time seen by navigator.  Here at last, on
October 30, came a lull.  Drake landed, and took possession of this
earth's end for the Queen.  Then he headed his prow northward for the
forbidden waters of the Pacific bordering New Spain.  Not a Spaniard
was seen up to the Bay of San Filipe off Chile, where by the end of
November Drake came on an Indian fisherman.  Thinking the ship Spanish,
the fellow offered to pilot her back eighteen miles to the harbor of

Spanish vessels lay rocking to the tide as Drake glided into the port.
So utterly impossible was it deemed for any foreign ship to enter the
Pacific, that the Spanish commander of the fleet at anchor dipped
colors in salute to the pirate heretic, thinking him a messenger from
Spain, and beat him a rattling welcome on the drum as the _Golden Hind_
knocked keels with the Spanish bark.  Drake, doubtless, smiled as he
returned the salute by a wave of his plumed hat.  The Spaniards
actually had wine jars out to drown the newcomers ashore, when a quick
clamping of iron hooks locked the Spanish vessel in death grapple to
the _Golden Hind_.  An English sailor leaped over decks to the Spanish
galleon with a yell of "_Downe, Spanish dogges_!"  The crew of sixty
English pirates had swarmed across the vessel like hornets before the
poor hidalgo knew what had happened.  Head over heels, down the
hatchway, reeled the astonished dons.  Drake clapped down {154}
hatches, and had the Spaniards trapped while his men went ashore to
sack the town.  One Spaniard had succeeded in swimming across to warn
the port.[7]  When Drake landed, the entire population had fled to the
hills.  Rich plunder in wedges of pure gold, and gems, was carried off
from the fort.  Not a drop of blood was shed.  Crews of the scuttled
vessels were set ashore, the dismantled ships sent drifting to open
sea.  The whole fiasco was conducted as harmlessly as a melodrama, with
a moral thrown in; for were not these zealous Protestants despoiling
these zealous Catholics, whose zeal, in turn, had led them to despoil
the Indian?  There was a moral; but it wore a coat of many colors.

[Illustration: Francis Drake.]

The Indian was rewarded, and a Greek pilot forced on board to steer to
Lima, the great treasury of Peruvian gold.  Giving up all hope of the
other English vessels joining him, Drake had paused at Coquimbo to put
together a small sloop, when down swooped five hundred Spanish
soldiers.  In the wild scramble for the _Golden Hind_, one sailor was
left behind.  He was torn to pieces by the Spaniards before the eyes of
Drake's crew.  Northling again sailed Drake, piloted inshore by the
Greek to Tarapaca, where Spanish treasure was sent out over the hills
to await the call of ship; and sure enough, sound asleep in the
sunlight, fatigued from his trip lay a Spanish carrier, {155} thirteen
bars of silver piled beside him on the sand.  When that carrier
wakened, the ship had called!  Farther on the English moored and went
inland to see if more treasure might be coming over the hills.  Along
the sheep trails came a lad whistling as he drove eight Peruvian sheep
laden with black leather sacks full of gold.

Drake's men were intoxicated with their success.  It was impossible to
attack Panama with only the _Golden Hind_; but what if the _Golden
Hind_ could catch the _Glory of the South Seas_--the splendid Spanish
galleon that yearly carried Peruvian gold up to Panama?  Drake gained
first news of the treasure ship being afloat while he was rifling three
barks at Aricara below Lima; but he knew coureurs were already speeding
overland to warn the capital against the _Golden Hind_.  Drake pressed
sail to outstrip the land messenger, and glided into Callao, the port
of Lima, before the thirty ships lying dismantled had the slightest
inkling of his presence.

Viceroy Don Francisco de Toledo of Lima thought the overland coureur
mad.  A pirate heretic in the South Seas!  Preposterous!  Some Spanish
rascal had turned pirate; so the governor gathered up two thousand
soldiers to march with all speed for Callao, with hot wrath and swift
punishment for the culprit.  Drake had already sacked Callao, but he
had missed the treasure ship.  She had just left for Panama.  The
_Golden Hind_ was lying outside the port becalmed {156} when Don Toledo
came pouring his two thousand soldiers down to the wharves.  The
Spaniards dashed to embark on the rifled ships with a wild halloo!  He
was becalmed, the blackguard pirate,--whoever he was,--they would tow
out!  Divine Providence had surely given him into their hands; but just
as they began rowing might and main, a fresh wind ruffled the water.
The _Golden Hind_ spread her wings to the wind and was off like a bird!
Drake knew no ship afloat could outsail his swift little craft; and the
Spaniards had embarked in such haste, they had come without provisions.
Famine turned the pursuers back near the equator, the disgusted viceroy
hastening to equip frigates that would catch the English pirate when
famine must compel him to head southward.

Drake slackened sail to capture another gold cargo.  The crew of this
caravel were so grateful to be put ashore instead of having their
throats cut, that they revealed to Drake the stimulating fact that the
_Glory of the South Seas_, the treasure ship, was only two days ahead
laden with golden wealth untold.

It was now a wild race for gold--for gold enough to enrich every man of
the crew; for treasure that might buy up half a dozen European kingdoms
and leave the buyer rich; for gold in huge slabs the shape of the
legendary wedges long ago given the rulers of the Incas by the
descendants of the gods; gold to be had for the taking by the striking
of one sure blow at England's enemy!  Drake called on the crew to
acquit {157} themselves like men.  The sailors answered with a shout.
Every inch of sail was spread.  Old muskets and cutlasses were scoured
till they shone like the sun.  Men scrambled up the mast poles to gaze
seaward for sight of sail to the fore.  Every nerve was braced.  They
were now across the equator.  A few hundred miles more, and the _Glory
of the South Seas_ would lie safe inside the strong harbor of Panama.
Drake ordered the thirty cannon ready for action, and in a loud voice
offered the present of his own golden chain to the man who should first
descry the sails of the Spanish treasure.  For once his luck failed
him.  The wind suddenly fell.  Before Drake needed to issue the order,
his "brave boys" were over decks and out in the small boats rowing for
dear life, towing the _Golden Hind_.  Day or night from February
twenty-fourth, they did not slack, scarcely pausing to eat or sleep.
Not to lose the tremendous prize by seeing the _Glory of the South
Seas_ sail into Panama Bay at the last lap of the desperate race, had
these bold pirates ploughed a furrow round the world, daring death or

At three in the afternoon of March the 1st, John Drake, the commander's
brother, shouted out from the mast top where he clung, "Sail ho!" and
the blood of every Englishman aboard jumped to the words!  At six in
the evening, just off Cape Francisco, they were so close to the _Glory
of the South Seas_, they could see that she was compelled to sail
slowly, owing to the weight of her cargo.  So unaware of danger was
{158} the captain that he thought Drake some messenger sent by the
viceroy, and instead of getting arms in readiness and pressing sail, he
lowered canvas, came to anchor, and waited![8]  Drake's announcement
was a roaring cannonade that blew the mast poles off the Spanish ship,
crippling her like a bird with wings broken.  For the rest, the scene
was what has been enacted wherever pirates have played their game--a
furious fusillade from the cannon mouths belching from decks and
port-holes, the unscathed ship riding down on the staggering victim
like a beast on its prey, the clapping of the grappling hooks that
bound the captive to the sides of her victor, the rush over decks, the
flash of naked sword, the decks swimming in blood, and the quick
surrender.  The booty from this treasure ship was roughly estimated at
twenty-six tons of pure silver, thirteen chests of gold plate, eighty
pounds of pure gold, and precious jewels--emeralds and pearls--to the
value in modern money of seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

Drake realized now that he dared not return to England by the Straits
of Magellan.  All the Spanish frigates of the Pacific were on the
watch.  The _Golden Hind_ was so heavily freighted with treasure, it
was actually necessary to lighten ballast by throwing spices and silks
overboard.  One can guess that the orchestra played a stirring refrain
off Cape Francisco that night.  The Northeast Passage from Asia to
Europe was {159} still a myth of the geographers.  Drake's friend,
Frobisher, had thought he found it on the Atlantic side.  After taking
counsel with his ten chosen advisers, Drake decided to give the Spanish
frigates the slip by returning through the mythical Northeast Passage.
Stop was made at Guatalco, off the west coast of New Spain, for
repairs.  Here, the poor Portuguese pilot brought all the way from the
islands off the west coast of Africa, was put ashore.[9]  He was
tortured by the Spaniards for piloting Drake to the South Seas.  In the
course of rifling port and ship at Guatalco, charts to the Philippines
and Indian Ocean were found; so that even if the voyage to England by
the Northeast Passage proved impossible, the _Golden Hind_ could follow
these charts home round the world by the Indian Ocean and Good Hope up

It was needless for Drake to sack more Spanish floats.  He had all the
plunder he could carry.  From the charts he learned that the Spaniards
always struck north for favorable winds.  Heading north, month after
month, the _Golden Hind_ sailed for the shore that should have led
northeast, and that puzzled the mariners by sheering west and yet west;
fourteen hundred leagues she sailed along a leafy wilderness of tangled
trees and ropy mosses, beauty and decay, the froth of the beach combers
aripple on the very roots of the {160} trees; dolphins coursing round
the hull like greyhounds; flying fish with mica for wings flitting over
the decks; forests of seaweed warning out to deeper water.  Then, a
sudden cold fell, cold and fogs that chilled the mariners of tropic
seas to the bone.  The veering coast pushed them out farther westward,
far north of what the Spanish charts showed.  Instead of flying fish
now, were whales, whales in schools of thousands that gambolled round
the _Golden Hind_.  As the north winds--"frozen nimphes," the record
calls them--blew down the cold Arctic fogs, Drake's men thought they
were certainly nearing the Arctic regions.  Where were they?  Plainly
lost, lost somewhere along what are now known as Mendocino, and Blanco,
and Flattery.  In a word, perhaps up as far as Oregon, and Washington.
One record says they went to latitude 43.  Another record, purporting
to be more correct, says 48.  The Spaniards had been north as far as
California, but beyond this, however far he may have gone, Drake was a
discoverer in the true sense of the word.  Mountains covered with snow
they saw, and white cliffs, and low shelving shores, which is more
descriptive of Oregon and Washington than California; but only the
sudden transition from tropic heat to chilling northern fogs can
explain the crew's exaggerated idea of cold along the Pacific coast.
Land was sighted at 42, north of Mendocino, and an effort made to
anchor farther north; but contrary winds and a rock bottom gave
insecure mooring.  {161} This was not surprising, as it was on this
coast that Cook and Vancouver failed to find good harborage.  The coast
still seemed to trend westward, dispelling hopes of a Northeast
Passage, and if the world could have accepted Drake's conclusions on
the matter, a deal of expenditure in human life and effort might have
been saved.

Two centuries before the deaths of Bering and Cook, trying to find that
Passage, Drake's chronicler wrote: "_The cause of this extreme cold we
conceive to be the large spreading of the Asian and American continent,
if they be not fully joined, yet seem they to come very neere, from
whose high and snow-covered mountains, the north and north-west winds
send abroad their frozen nimphes to the infecting of the whole
air--hence comes it that in the middest of their summer, the snow
hardly departeth from these hills at all; hence come those thicke mists
and most stinking fogges, . . . for these reasons we coniecture that
either there is no passage at all through these Northerne coasts, which
is most likely, or if there be, that it is unnavigable. . . .  Adde
there unto, that though we searched the coast diligently even unto the
48 degree, yet found we not the land to trend in any place towards the
East, but rather running continually North-west, as if it went directly
to meet with Asia. . . . of which we infallibly concluded rather than
coniectured, that there was none._"

Giving up all idea of a Northeast Passage, Drake turned south, and on
June 17 anchored in a bay now {162} thoroughly identified as Drake's
Bay, north of San Francisco.

The next morning, while the English were yet on the _Golden Hind_, came
an Indian in a canoe, shouting out oration of welcome, blowing feather
down on the air as a sign of dovelike peace, and finally after three
times essaying courage, coming near enough the English to toss a rush
basket full of tobacco into the ship.  In vain Drake threw out presents
to allure the Indian on board.  The terrified fellow scampered ashore,
refusing everything but a gorgeous hat, that floated out on the water.
For years the legend of Drake's ship was handed down as a tradition
among the Indians of this bay.[10]

By the 21st tents were erected, and a rude fortification of stone
thrown round in protection where the precious cargo of gold could be
stored while the ship was to be careened and scraped.  At the foot of
the hill, the poor Indians gathered and gazed spellbound at the sight
of this great winged bird of the ocean, sending thirty cannon trundling
ashore, and herself beginning to rise up from the tide on piles and
scaffolding.  As Drake sent the assembled tribe presents, the Indians
laid down their bows and spears.  So marvellously did the wonders of
the white men grow--sticks that emitted puffs of fire (muskets), a ship
so large it could have carried their tribe, clothing in velvet and gold
braid gorgeous as the plumage of a {163} bird, cutlasses of steel--that
by the 23d great assemblages of Indians were on their knees at the foot
of the hill, offering sacrifices to the wonderful beings in the fort.
Whatever the English pirate's faults, he deserves credit for treating
the Indians with an honor that puts later navigators to shame.  When he
saw them gashing bodies in sacrifice, his superstition took fire with
fear of Divine displeasure for the sacrilege; and the man who did not
scruple to treat black slaves picked up among the Spaniards baser than
he would have treated dogs, now fell "to prayers," as the old chronicle
says, reading the Bible aloud, and setting his crew to singing psalms,
and pointing to the sky, at which the Indians grunted approvals of

Three days later came coureurs from the "King of the Indians"--the
chief--bidding the strangers prepare for the great sachem's visit.  The
coureurs advanced gyrating and singing; so that the English saw in this
strange people nomads like the races of Scripture, whose ceremony was
one of song and dance.  The warriors preceding the chief carried what
the English thought "a sceptre," but what we moderns would call a
peace-pipe.  The chains in their hands were probably strings of bears'
claws, or something like wampum; the "crowns of feathers," plumed
head-dresses; the gifts in the rush baskets borne by the women to the
rear, maize and tobacco.

Drake drew his soldiers up in line, and with trumpets sounding and
armor at gleam marched out to {164} welcome the Indian chief.  Then the
whole company of savages broke out in singing and dancing.  Drake was
signalled to sit down in the centre.  Barely had he obeyed when to the
shouting and dancing of the multitude, "a chain" was thrown over his
neck, "a crown" placed on his head, and "the sceptre" put in his hand.
According to Indian custom, Drake was welcomed by the ceremony of
adoption in the tribe, "the sceptre" being a peace-pipe; "the crown,"
an Indian warrior's head-dress.  Far otherwise the ceremony appeared to
the romantic treasure hunters.  "_In the name and to the use of Her
Most Excellent Majesty_," records the chaplain, "_he (Drake) tooke the
sceptre, crowne, and dignity of the sayd countrie into his hand;_"
though, added the pious chaplain of pirates, when he witnessed the
Indians bringing the sick to be healed by the master pirate's
touch,--"_we groane in spirit to see the power of Sathan so farre

[Illustration: The Crowning of Drake in California.]

To avert disaster for the sacrilege of the sacred touch of healing,
Drake added to his prayers strong lotions and good ginger plasters.
Sometime in the next five weeks, Drake travelled inland with the
Indians, and because of patriotism to his native land and the
resemblance of the white sand cliffs to that land, called the region
"New Albion."  "New Albion" would be an offset to "New Spain."  Drake
saw himself a second Cortés, and nailed to a tree a brass plate on
which was graven the Queen's name, the year, the free surrender of the
country to the {165} Queen, and Drake's own name; for, says the
chaplain, quite ignorant of Spanish voyages, "_the Spaniards never had
any dealing, or so much as set a foot in this country, the utmost of
their discoveries reaching only many degrees Southward of this place_."

Drake's misunderstanding of the Indian ceremony would be comical if it
were not that later historians have solemnly argued whether an act of
possession by a pirate should hold good in international law.

On the 23d of July the English pirate bade farewell to the Indians.  As
he looked back from the sea, they were running along the hilltops
burning more of the fires which he thought were sacrifices.

Following the chart taken from the Spanish ship, Drake steered for the
Philippines, thence southward through the East Indies to the Indian
Ocean, and past Good Hope, back to Plymouth, where he came to anchor on
September 26, 1580.  Bells were set ringing.  Post went spurring to
London with word that Drake, the corsair, who had turned the Spanish
world upside down, had come home.  For a week the little world of
England gave itself up to feasting.  Ballads rang with the fame of
Drake.  His name was on every tongue.  One of his first acts was to
visit his old parents.  Then he took the _Golden Hind_ round the
Channel to be dry-docked in Deptford.

For the once, the tactful Queen was in a quandary.  Complaints were
pouring in from Spain.  The {166} Spanish ambassador was furious, and
presented bills of sequestration against Drake, but as the amount
sequestered, pending investigation, was only fifty-six thousand pounds,
one may suspect that Elizabeth let Drake protect in his own way what he
had taken in his own way.  For six months, while the world resounded
with his fame, the court withheld approval.  Jealous courtiers "deemed
Drake the master thief of the unknown world," till Elizabeth cut the
Gordian knot by one of her defiant strokes.  On April 4 she went in
state to dine on the _Golden Hind_, to the music of those stringed
instruments that had harped away Drake's fear of death or devil as he
ploughed an English keel round the world.  After the dinner, she bade
him fall to his knees and with a light touch of the sword gave him the
title that was seal of the court's approval.  The _Golden Hind_ was
kept as a public relic till it fell to pieces on the Thames, and the
wood was made into a memorial chair for Oxford.

[Illustration: The Silver Map of the World.  Both sides of a medal
struck off at the time of Drake's return to England, commemorating his
voyage around the world.  The faint dotted line shows the course sailed
by him in the _Golden Hind_.]

After all the perils Drake saw in the subsequent war--Cadiz and the
Armada--it seems strange that he should return to the scene of his past
exploits to die.  He was with Hawkins in the campaign of 1595 against
Spain in the New World.  Things had not gone well.  He had not approved
of Hawkins's plans of attack, and the venture was being bungled.  Sick
of the equatorial fever, or of chagrin from failure, Drake died off
Porto Bello in the fifty-first year of his age.  His body {167} was
placed in a leaden coffin, and solemnly committed to that sea where he
had won his first glory.[11]

[1] This is but a brief epitome of the Spaniard's swelling words.  Only
the Heavens above were omitted from Spain's claim.

[2] The exact position of the English towards the port is hard to give,
at the site of Vera Cruz has been changed three times.

[3] This halfway station was known as Venta Cruz.  Seven of the traders
lost their lives in Drake's attack.

[4] The _Hakluyt Society Proceedings_, 1854, give all details of this
terrible crime.  Fletcher, the chaplain, thought Doughty innocent; but
Drake considered the chaplain "the falsest knave that liveth."

[5] Don Francisco de Zarate, commander of a Spanish ship scuttled by
Drake off Guatalco, gives this description to the Spanish government of
the Englishman's equipage: "The general of the Englishmen is the same
who five years ago took Nombre de Dios, about thirty-five years old,
short, with a ruddy beard, one of the greatest mariners there are on
the sea, alike for his skill and power of command.  His ship is a
galleon of four hundred tons, a very fast sailer, and there are aboard
her, one hundred men, all skilled hands and of warlike age, and all so
well trained that they might be old soldiers--they keep their
harquebusses clean.  He treats them with affection, they him with
respect.  He carries with him nine or ten gentlemen cadets of high
families in England.  These are his council.  He calls them together,
tho' he takes counsel of no one.  He has no favorite.  These are
admitted to his table, as well as a Portuguese pilot whom he brought
from England.  (?)  He is served with much plate with gilt borders
engraved with his arms and has all possible kinds of delicacies and
scents, which . . . the Queen gave him.  (?)  None of the gentlemen sit
or cover in his presence without first being ordered once or even
several times.  The galleon carries thirty pieces of heavy ordnance,
fireworks and ammunition.  They dine and sup to the music of violins.
He carries carpenters, caulkers, careeners.  The ship is sheathed.  The
men are paid and not regular pirates.  No one takes plunder and the
slightest fault is punished."  The don goes on to say that what
troubled him most was that Drake captured Spanish charts of the
Pacific, which would guide other intruders on the Pacific.

[6] The eight castaways in the shallop succeeded in passing back
through the straits.  At Plata they were attacked by the Indians; four,
wounded, succeeded in escaping.  The others were captured.  Reaching
islands off the coast of Patagonia, two of the wounded died.  The
remaining two suffered shipwreck on a barren island, where the only
food was fruit; the only drink, the juice of the fruits.  Making a raft
of floating planks ten feet long, the two committed themselves to God
and steered for the mainland.  Here Pilcher died two hours after they
had landed from drinking too much water.  The survivor, Peter Carder,
lived among the savages of Brazil for eight years before he escaped and
got passage to England, where he related his adventures to Queen
Elizabeth.  The Queen gave him twenty-two angels and sent him to
Admiral Howard for employment.  _Purchas' Pilgrims_, Vol. IV.

[7] The plunder of this port was 60,000 pesos of gold, jewels, and
goods (pesos about 8 shillings, $2); 1770 jars of wine, together with
the silver of the chapel altar, which was given to Fletcher.

[8] The captain was a Biscayan, one Juan de Anton.

[9] Nuno Silva is the name of this pilot.  It is from his story that
many of the details of this part of the voyage are obtained.

[10] See Professor George Davidson's pamphlet on _Drake_.

[11] To give even a brief account of Drake's life would fill a small
encyclopaedia.  The story of his first ruin off Vera Cruz, of his
campaign of vengeance, of his piratical voyage to the Pacific, of his
doings with the California Indians, of his fight in the Armada--any one
of these would fill an ordinary volume.  Only that part of his life
bearing on American exploration has been given here, and that
sacrificed in detail to keep from cumbering the sweep of his adventure.
No attempt has been made to pass judgment on Drake's character.  Like
Baranof of a later day, he was a curious mixture of the supremely
selfish egoist, and of the religious enthusiast, alternately using his
egoism as a support for his religion, and his religion as a support for
his egoism; and each reader will probably pass judgment on Drake
according as the reader's ideal of manhood is the altruist or the
egoist, the Christ-type or "the great blond beast" of modern
philosophic thought, the man supremely indifferent to all but self,
glorying in triumph though it be knee-deep in blood.  Nor must we
moderns pass too hypocritical judgment on the hero of the Drake type.
Drake had invested capital in his venture.  He had the blessing of
Church and State on what he was about to do, and what he did was _to
take_ what he had strength and dexterity to take independent of the Ten
Commandments, which is not so far different from many commercial
methods of to-day.  We may appear as unmoral in our methods to future
judges as Drake appears to us.  Just as no attempt has been made to
analyze Drake's character--to balance his lack of morals with his
courage--so minor details, that would have led off from the main
current of events, have been omitted.  For instance, Drake spilled very
little Spanish blood and was Christian in his treatment of the Indians;
but are these credit marks offset by his brutality toward the black
servants whom the pirates picked up among the Spaniards, of whom one
poor colored girl was marooned on a Pacific island to live or die or
rot?  To be sure, the Portuguese pilot taken from a scuttled caravel
off the west coast of Africa on the way out, and forced to pilot Drake
to the Pacific, was well treated on the voyage.  At least, there is no
mention to the contrary; but when Drake had finished with the fellow,
though the English might have known very well what terrible vengeance
Spain would take, the pilot was dumped off on the coast of New Spain,
where, one old record states, he was tortured, almost torn to pieces,
for having guided Drake.

The great, indeed, primary and only authorities for Drake's adventures
are, of course, Hakluyt, Vol. III; for the fate of the lost crews,
_Purchas' Pilgrims_, Vol. III and Vol. I, Book II, and Vol. IV; and the
_Hakluyt Society Proceedings_, 1854, which are really a reprint of _The
World Encompassed_, by Francis Fletcher, the chaplain, in 1628, with
the addition of documents contemporary with Fletcher's by unknown
writers.  The title-page of _The World Encompassed_ reads almost like
an old ballad--"_for the stirring up of heroick spirits to benefit
their countries, and eternize their names by like {168} attempts_."
Kohl and Davidson's _Reports of the Coast and Geodetic Survey_, 1884
and 1886, are also invaluable as establishing Drake's land-fall in
California.  Miller Christy's Silver Map of the World gives a splendid
facsimile of the medal issued to commemorate Drake's return, of which
the original is in the British Museum.  Among biographers, Corbett's
_Drake_, and Barrow's _Life of Sir Francis Drake_, give full details of
his early and personal life, including, of course, his great services
in the Armada.

Furious controversy has waged over Drake on two points: Did he murder
Doughty?  Did he go as far north on the west coast of America as 48
degrees?  Hakluyt's account says 43 degrees; _The World Encompassed_,
by Fletcher, the chaplain, says 48 degrees, though all accounts agree
it was at 38 degrees he made harbor.  I have not dealt with either
dispute, stating the bare facts, leaving each reader to draw his own
conclusions, though it seems to me a little foolish to contend that the
claim of the 48th degree was an afterthought interpolated by the writer
to stretch British possessions over a broader swath; for even two
hundred years after the issue of the Silver Map of the World, when Cook
was on this coast, so little was known of the west shores of America by
Englishmen that men were still looking out for a Gamaland, or imaginary
continent in the middle of the Pacific.

The words of the narrative bearing on America are: "We came to 42
degree of North latitude, where on the night following (June 3) we
found such alterations of heat, into extreme and nipping cold, that our
men in general did grievously complain thereof, some of them feeling
their health much impaired thereby; neither was it that this chanced in
the night alone, but the day following carried with it not only the
markes, but the stings and force of the night. . .; besides that the
pinching and biting air was nothing altered, the very ropes of our ship
were stiffe, and the rain which fell was an unnatural congealed and
frozen substance so that we seemed to be rather in the frozen Zone than
any where so neere unto the sun or these hotter climates . . . it came
to that extremity in sayling but two degrees farther to the northward
in our course, that though seamen lack not good stomachs . . . it was a
question whether hands should feed their mouths, or rather keepe from
the pinching cold that did benumme them . . . our meate as soone as it
was remooved from the fire, would presently in a manner be frozen up,
and our ropes and tackling in a few days were growne to that
stiffnesse . . . yet would not our general be discouraged but as well
by comfortable speeches, of the divine providence, and of God's loving
care over his children, out of the Scriptures . . . the land in that
part of America, beares farther out into the West than we before
imagined, we were neerer on it than we were aware; yet the neerer still
we came unto it, the more extremity of cold did sease upon us.  The
fifth day of June, we were forced by contrary windes to runne in with
the shoare, which we then first descried, and to cast anchor in a bad
bay, the best roade we could for the present meete with, where we were
not without some danger by reason of the many extreme gusts and flawes
that beate upon us, which if they ceased, and were still at any
time . . . there followed most vile, thicke and stinking fogges against
which the sea prevailed nothing {169} . . . to go further North, the
extremity of the cold would not permit us and the winds directly bent
against us, having once gotten us under sayle againe, commanded us to
the Southward whether we would or no.

"From the height of 48 degrees in which now we were to 38, we found the
land by coasting alongst it, to be but low and plaine--every hill
whereof we saw many but none were high, though it were in June, and the
sunne in his nearest approach . . . being covered with snow. . . .  In
38 deg. 30 min. we fell with a convenient and fit harborough and June
17 came to anchor therein, where we continued till the 23rd day of July
following . . . neither could we at any time in whole fourteen days
together find the aire so cleare as to be able to take the height of
sunne or starre . . . after our departure from the heate we always
found our bodies, not as sponges, but strong and hardened, more able to
beare out cold, though we came out of the excesse of heate, then
chamber champions could hae beene, who lye in their feather beds till
they go to sea.

". . .  Trees without leaves, and the ground without greennes in these
months of June and July . . . as for the cause of this extremity, they
seem . . . chiefest we conceive to be the large spreading of the Asian
and American continent, which (somewhat Northward of these parts) if
they be not fully joyned, yet seeme they to come very neere one to the
other.  From whose high and snow-covered mountains, the North and
Northwest winds (the constant visitants of those coasts) send abroad
their frozen nimphes, to the infecting of the whole aire with this
insufferable sharpnesse. . . .  Hence comes the generall squalidnesse
and barrennesse of the countrie, hence comes it that in the midst of
their summer, the snow hardly departeth . . . from their hils at all,
hence come those thicke mists and most stinking fogges, which increase
so much the more, by how much higher the pole is raised . . . also from
these reasons we coniecture that either there is no passage at all
through these Northern coasts which is most likely or if there be, that
yet it is unnavigable. . . .  Add here unto, that though we searched
the coast diligently, even unto the 48 degree, yet found we not the
land to trend so much as one point in any place towards the East, but
rather running on continually Northwest, as if it went directly to meet
with Asia; and even in that height, when we had a franke winde to have
carried us through, had there been a passage, yet we had a smoothe and
calme sea, with ordinary flowing and renewing, which could not have
beene had there been a frete; of which we rather infallibly concluded,
then coniectured, that there was none.

"The next day, after coming to anchor in the aforesaid harbour, the
people of the countrey showed themselves, sending off a man with great
expedition to us in a canow, who being yet but a little from the
shoare, and a great way from our ship, spake to us continually as he
came rowing in.  And at last at a reasonable distance, staying himself,
he began more solemnly a long and tedious oration, after his manner,
using in the deliverie thereof, many gestures and signes, mouing his
hands, turning his head and body many wayes, and after his oration
ended, with great show and reverence and submission returned backe to
shoare again.  He shortly came againe the second time in like manner,
{170} and so the third time, when he brought with him (as a present
from the rest) a bunch of feathers, much like the feathers of a blacke
crowe, very neatly and artificially gathered upon a string, and drawne
together into a round bundle, being verie cleane and finely cut, and
bearing in length an equall proportion one with another a special
cognizance (as we afterwards observed) which they . . . weare on their
heads.  With this also he brought a little basket made of rushes, and
filled with an herbe which they called Tobah.  Both which being tyed to
a short rodde, he cast into our boate.  Our generall intended to have
recompenced him immediately with many good things he would have
bestowed on him; but entering into the boate to deliver the same, he
could not be drawne to receive them by any meanes, save one hat, which
being cast into the water out of the ship, he took up (refusing utterly
to meddle with any other thing) though it were upon a board put off
unto him, and so presently made his returne.  After which time our
boate could row no way, but wondering at us as at gods, they would
follow the same with admiration. . . .

"The third day following, viz., the 21, our ship having received a
leake at sea, was brought to anchor neerer the shoare, that her goods
being landed she might be repaired; but for that we were to prevent any
danger that might chance against our safety, our Generall first of all
landed his men, with all necessary provision, to build tents and make a
fort for the defence of ourselves and our goods . . . which when the
people of the country perceived us doing, as men set on fire to war in
defence of their countrie, in great hast and companee, with such
weapons as they had, they came down unto us, and yet with no hostile
meaning or intent to hurt us: standing when they drew neerer, as men
ravished in their mindes, with the sight of such things, as they never
had scene or heard of before that time: their errand being rather with
submission and feare to worship us as Gods, than to have warre with us
as mortall men: which thing, as it did partly show itselfe at that
instant, so did it more and more manifest itself afterwards, during the
whole time of our abode amongst them.  At this time, being veilled by
signs to lay from them their bowes and arrowes, they did as they were
directed and so did all the rest, as they came more and more by
companies unto him, growing in a little while to a great number, both
of men and women.

". . .  Our Generall, with all his company, used all meanes possible
gently to intreate them, bestowing upon each of them liberally good and
necessary things to cover their nakedness, withall signifying unto them
we were no Gods but men, and had need of such things to cover our owne
shame, teaching them to use them to the same ends, for which cause also
we did eate and drinke in their presence, . . . they bestowed upon our
Generall and diverse of our company, diverse things as feathers, cawles
of networke, the quivers of their arrowes, made of faune skins, and the
very skins of beasts that their women wore upon their bodies . . . they
departed with joy to their houses, which houses are digged round within
the earth, and have from the uppermost brimmes of the circle, clefts of
wood set up, and joyned close together at the top, like our spires on
the steeple of a church, which being covered with earth, . . . are very
warme; the doore {171} in the most of them performs the office also of
a chimney to let out the smoake; it's made in bignesse and fashion like
to an ordinary scuttle in a ship, and standing slope-wise; the beds are
the hard ground, onely with rushes strewed upon it and lying round
about the house, have their fire in the middest, . . . with all
expedition we set up our tents, and intrenched ourselves with walls of
stone. . . .  Against the end of two daies, there was gathered together
a great assembly of men, women and children, bringing with them as they
had before done, feathers and bagges of Tobah for present, or rather
for sacrifices upon this persuasion that we were Gods.

"When they came to the top of the hill at the bottom whereof we had
built our fort, they made a stand;" . . . "this bloodie sacrifice
(against our wils) being thus performed, our generall, with his
companie, in the presence of those strangers, fell to prayers; and by
signes in lifting up our eyes and hands to heaven, signified unto them
that that God whom we did serve and whom they ought to worship, was
above: beseeching God, if it were his good pleasure, to open by some
meanes their blinded eyes, that they might in due time be called to the
knowledge of Him, the true and everliving God, and of Jesus Christ,
whom he hath sent, the salvation of the Gentiles.  In the time of which
prayers, singing of Psalmes, and reading of certaine Chapters in the
Bible, they sate very attentively, and observing the end of every
pause, with one voice still cried 'oh' greatly rejoicing in our

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"Our generall caused to be set up a monument of our being there, as
also of her majesties and successors right and title to that kingdom,
namely a plate of brasse, fast nailed to a great and firme poste;
whereon is engraven her graces' name, and the day and year of our
arrival there, and of the free giving up of the province and kingdom,
both by the king and people, unto her majesties' hands: together with
her highnesse picture and arms, in a piece of sixpence current English
monie, shewing itselfe by a hole made of purpose through the plate;
underneath was likewise engraven the name of our Generall. . . .

"The Spaniards never had any dealings, or so much as set a foote in
this country, the utmost of their discoveries reaching onely to many
degrees Southward of this place."

The Spanish version of Drake's burial is, that the body was weighted
with shot at the heels and heaved over into the sea, without coffin or





The English Navigator sent Two Hundred Years later to find the New
Albion of Drake's Discoveries--He misses both the Straits of Fuca and
the Mouth of the Columbia, but anchors at Nootka, the Rendezvous of
Future Traders--No Northeast Passage found through Alaska--The True
Cause of Cook's Murder in Hawaii told by Ledyard--Russia becomes
Jealous of his Explorations

It seems impossible that after all his arduous labors and death, to
prove his convictions, Bering's conclusions should have been rejected
by the world of learning.  Surely his coasting westward, southwestward,
abreast the long arm of Alaska's peninsula for a thousand miles, should
have proved that no open sea--no Northeast Passage--was here, between
Asia and America.  But no! the world of learning said fog had obscured
Bering's observations.  What he took for the mainland of America had
been only a chain of islands.  Northward of those islands was open sea
between Asia and Europe, which might afford direct passage between East
and West without circumnavigating the globe.  In fact, said Dr.
Campbell, {173} one of the most learned English writers of the day,
"Nothing is plainer than that his (Bering's) discovery does not warrant
any such supposition as that he touched the great continent making part
of North America."

The moonshine of the learned men in France and Russia was even wilder.
They had definitely proved, _even if there were no Gamaland_--as
Bering's voyage had shown--then there must be a southern continent
somewhere, to keep the balance between the northern and southern
hemispheres; else the world would turn upside down.  And there must
also be an ocean between northern Europe and northern Asia, else the
world would be top-heavy and turn upside down.  It was an age when the
world accepted creeds for piety, and learned moonshine instead of
scientific data; when, in a word, men refused to bow to fact!

All sorts of wild rumors were current.  There was a vast continent in
the south.  There was a vast sea in the north.  Somewhere was the New
Albion, which Francis Drake had found north of New Spain.  Just north
of the Spanish possessions in America was a wide inlet leading straight
through from the Pacific to the Atlantic, which an old Greek
pilot--named Juan de Fuca--said he had traversed for the viceroy of New

Even stolid-going England was infected by the rage for imaginary oceans
and continents.  The Hudson's Bay Fur Company was threatened with a
withdrawal {174} of its charter because it had failed to find a
Northwest Passage from Atlantic to Pacific.  Only four years after the
death of Bering, an act of Parliament offered a reward of twenty
thousand pounds to the officers and crew of any ships discovering a
passage between Atlantic and Pacific north of 52 degrees.  There were
even ingenious fellows with the letters of the Royal Society behind
their names, who affected to think that the great Athabasca Lake, which
Hearne had found, when he tramped inland from the Arctic and Coppermine
River, was a strait leading to the Pacific.  Athabasca Lake might be
the imaginary strait of the Greek pilot, Juan de Fuca.  To be sure, two
Hudson's Bay Company ships' crews--those under Knight and Barlow--had
been totally lost fifty years before Hearne's tramp inland in 1771,
trying to find that same mythical strait of Juan de Fuca westward of
Hudson Bay.

But so furious did public opinion wax over a Northwest Passage at the
very time poor Bering was dying in the North Pacific, that Captain
Middleton was sent to Hudson Bay in 1741-1742 to find a way to the
Pacific.  And when Middleton failed to find water where the Creator had
placed land, Dobbs, the patron of the expedition and champion of a
Northwest Passage at once roused the public to send out two more
ships--the _Dobbs_ and _California_.  Failure again!  Theories never
yet made Fact, never so much as added a hair's weight to Fact!  Ellis,
who was on board, affected to think that Chesterfield Inlet--a great
arm of the sea, {175} westward of Hudson Bay--might lead to the
Pacific.  This supposition was promptly exploded by the Hudson's Bay
Fur Company sending Captain Christopher and Moses Norton, the local
governor of the company, up Chesterfield inlet for two hundred miles,
where they found, not the Pacific, but a narrow river.  Then the hue
and cry of the learned theorists was--the Northwest Passage lay
northward of Hudson Bay.  Hearne was sent tramping inland to find--not
sea, but land; and when he returned with the report of the great
Athabasca Lake of Mackenzie River region, the lake was actually seized
on as proof that there was a waterway to the Pacific.  Then the
brilliant plan was conceived to send ships by both the Atlantic and the
Pacific to find this mythical passage from Europe to Asia.
Pickersgill, who had been on the Pacific, was to go out north of Hudson
Bay and work westward.  To work eastward from the Pacific to the
Atlantic was chosen a man who had already proved there was no great
continental mass on the south, and that the world did not turn upside
down, and who was destined to prove there was no great open ocean on
the north, and still the world did not turn upside down.  He was a man
whose whole life had been based and built upon Fact, not Theory.  He
was a man who accepted Truth as God gave it to him, not as he had
theorized it _ought_ to be; a man who had climbed from a mud cottage to
the position of the greatest navigator in the world--had climbed on top
of facts mastered, not {176} of schoolgirl moonshine, or study-closet
theories.  That man was Captain James Cook.

Cook's life presents all the contrasts of true greatness world over.
Like Peter the Great, of Russia, whose word had set in motion the
exploration of the northwest coast of America, Cook's character
consisted of elements that invariably lead to glory or ruin; often,
both.  The word "impossible" was not in his vocabulary.  He simply did
not recognize any limitations to what a man _might_ do, could do, would
do, if he tried; and that means, that under stress of risk or
temptation, or opposition, a man's caution goes to the winds.  With
Cook, it was risk that caused ruin.  With the Czar of Russia, it was

Born at Marton, a small parish of a north riding in the county of York,
October 27, 1728, James Cook was the son of a day-laborer in an age
when manual toil was paid at the rate of a few pennies a day.  There
were nine of a family.  The home was a thatch-roofed mud cottage.  Two
years after Cook's birth, the father was appointed bailiff, which
slightly improved family finances; but James was thirteen years of age
before it was possible to send him to school.  There, the progress of
his learning was a gallop.  He had a wizard-genius for figures.  In
three short years he had mastered all the Ayton school could teach him.
At sixteen, his schooling was over.  The father's highest ambition
seems to have been for the son to become a successful shopkeeper in one
of the small towns.  The future {177} navigator was apprenticed to the
village shop; but Cook's ambitions were not to be caged behind a

Eastward rolled the North Sea.  Down at Hull were heard seamen's yarns
to make the blood of a boy jump.  It was 1746.  The world was ringing
with tales of Bering on the Pacific, of a southern continent, which
didn't exist, of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company's illimitable domain in
the north, of La Vérendrye's wonderful discoveries of an almost
boundless region westward of New France toward the uncharted Western
Sea.  In a year and a half, Cook had his fill of shopkeeping.  Whether
he ran away, or had served his master so well that the latter willingly
remitted the three years' articles of apprenticeship, Cook now followed
his destiny to the sea.  According to the world's standards, the change
seemed progress backward.  He was articled to a ship-owner of Whitby as
a common seaman on a coaler sailing between Newcastle and London.  One
can see such coalers any day--black as smut, grimed from prow to stern,
with workmen almost black shovelling coal or hoisting tackling--pushing
in and out among the statelier craft of any seaport.  It is this stage
in a great man's career which is the test.  Is the man sure enough of
himself to leave everything behind, and jump over the precipice into
the unknown?  If ever he wishes to return to what he has left, he will
have just the height of this jump to climb back to the old place.  The
old place is a certainty.  The unknown may engulf in failure.  He {178}
must chance that, and all for the sake of a faith in himself, which has
not yet been justified; for the sake of a vague star leading into the
misty unknown.  He knows that he could have been successful in the old
place.  He does not know that he may not be a failure in the new place.
Art, literature, science, commerce--in all--it is the men and women who
have dared to risk being failures that have proved the mainspring of
progress.  Cook was sure enough of himself to exchange shopkeeper's
linen for the coal-heaver's blue jeans, to risk following the star of
his destiny to the sea.

Presently, the commonplace, grimy duties which he must fulfil are
taking him to Dublin, to Liverpool, to Norway; and by the time he is
twenty-two, he knows the Baltic trade well, and has heard all the pros
and cons of the furious cackle which the schools have raised over that
expedition of Bering's to the west coast of America.  By the time he is
twenty-four he is a first mate on the coal boats.  Comes another vital
change!  When he left the shop, he felt all that he had to do to follow
his destiny was to go to sea.  Now the star has led him up to a blank
wall.  The only promotion he can obtain on these merchantmen is to a
captainship; and the captaincy on a small merchantman will mean pretty
much a monotonous flying back and forward like a shuttle between the
ports of Europe and England.

Cook took a resolution that would have cost any {179} man but one with
absolute singleness of purpose a poignant effort.  At the age of
twenty-seven, he decided to enter the Royal Navy.  Now, in a democratic
age, we don't talk about such things; but there are unwritten laws and
invisible lines just the same.  Standing on the captain's deck of an
American warship not long ago, watching the deck hands below putting
things shipshape, I asked an officer--"Is there any chance for those
men to rise?"

"Yes, some," he answered tentatively, "but then, there is a difference
between the men who have been trained for a position, and those who
have worked up the line to it."  If that difference exists in a
democratic country and age, what was it for Cook in a country and at a
time when lines of caste were hard and fast drawn?  But he entered the
navy on the _Eagle_ under Sir Hugh Palliser, who, almost at once,
transferred him from the forecastle to the quarterdeck.  What was the
explanation of such quick recognition?  Therein lies the difference
between the man who tries and succeeds, and the man who tries and
fails.  Cook had qualified himself for promotion.  He was so fitted for
the higher position, that the higher position could not do without him.
Whether rocking on the Baltic, or waiting for the stokers to heave out
coal at Liverpool, every moment not occupied by seaman's duties, Cook
had filled by improving himself, by increasing his usefulness, by
sharpening his brain, so that his brain could better direct his hands,
by {180} studying mathematics and astronomy and geography and science
and navigation.  As some one has said--there are lots of people with
hands and no brain; and there are lots of people with brains and no
hands; but the kind who will command the highest reward for their
services to the world are those who have the finest combination of
brains _and_ hands.

[Illustration: Captain James Cook.]

Four years after Cook had joined the navy, he was master on the
_Mercury_ with the fleet before Quebec, making a chart of the St.
Lawrence for Wolfe to take the troops up to the Heights of Abraham,
piloting the boats to the attack on Montmorency, and conducting the
embarkation of the troops, who were to win the famous battle, that
changed the face of America.

Now the Royal Society wished to send some one to the South Seas, whose
reliability was of such a recognized and steady-going sort, that his
conclusions would be accepted by the public.  Just twenty years from
the time that he had left the shop, Cook was chosen for this important
mission.  What manner of man was he, who in that time had risen from
life in a mud hut to the rank of a commander in the Royal Navy?  In
manner, he was plain and simple and direct, no flourish, no unnecessary
palaver of showy words, not a word he did not mean.  In form, he was
six feet tall, in perfect proportion, with brown hair and eyes, alertly
penetrating, with features sharp rather from habit or thought than from
natural shape.

On this mission he left England in 1768, anchored at {181} the Society
Islands of the South Seas in the spring of 1769, explored New Zealand
in the fall of the same year, rounded Australia in 1770 and returned to
England in 1771, the very year Hearne was trying to tramp it overland
in search of a Northwest Passage.  And he brought back no proof of that
vast southern world which geographers had put on their maps.  Promptly
he was sent out on a second voyage to find or demolish that mythical
continent of the southern hemisphere; and he demolished the myth of a
southern continent altogether, returning from circumnavigating the
globe just at the time when the furor of a Northwest Passage northward
of Hudson Bay, northward even of Bering's course on the Pacific, was at
its height.

The third voyage was to determine finally the bounds of western
America, the possibilities of a passage between Europe and Asia by way
of the Pacific.  Two ships--the _Resolution_, four hundred and sixty
tons, one hundred and twelve men, which Cook had used before, and the
_Discovery_, three hundred tons, eighty men--were purchased at Hull,
the old port of Cook's boyhood dreams.  To secure the good will of the
crews, two months' wages were paid in advance.  Captain Clerke
commanded the _Discovery_; and the two crews numbered men of whom the
world was to hear more in connection with the northwest coast of
America--a young midshipman, Vancouver, whose doings were yet to
checkmate Spain; a young American, corporal {182} of marines, Ledyard,
who was to have his brush with Russia; and other ambitious young seamen
destined to become famous traders on the west coast of America.

The two ships left England in midsummer of 1776, crossed the equator in
September when every man fresh to the episode was caught and ducked
overrails in equatorial waters, rounded Good Hope, touched at the
Society Islands of the first voyage, and by spring of 1778 had explored
and anchored at the Sandwich Islands.  Once on the Pacific, Cook
mustered his crews and took them into his confidence; he was going to
try for that reward of twenty thousand pounds to the crew that
discovered a Northeast Passage; and even if he missed the reward, he
was going to have a shy at the most northern latitude ever attempted by
navigator--89 degrees; would they do it?  The crew cheered.  Whether
they reached 89 degrees or not, they decided to preserve their grog for
the intense cold to be encountered in the north; so that the daily
allowance was now cut to half.

By March, the ships were off from the Sandwich Islands to the long
swell of the Pacific, the slimy medusa lights covering the waters with
a phosphorescent trail of fire all night, the rockweed and sea leek
floating past by day telling their tale of some far land.  Cook's
secret commission had been very explicit: "You are to proceed on as
direct a course as you can to the coast of New Albion, endeavoring to
fall in with it in latitude 45 degrees north . . . and are strictly
enjoined {183} not to touch on any part of the Spanish dominions . . .
unless driven by accident . . . and to be very careful not to give any
umbrage to the subjects of his Catholic Majesty . . . and if in further
progress northward . . . you find any subjects of a European
prince . . . you are not to give any cause of offence . . . proceed
northward to 65 degrees, carefully search for such inlets as appear
pointing to Hudson Bay . . . use your utmost endeavors to pass
through."  The commission shows that England was unaware Spain had
pushed north of 45 degrees, and Russia north of 65 degrees; for Spain
jealously kept her explorations secret, and Russia's were not accepted.
The commission also offered a reward for any one going within 1 degree
of the Pole.  It may be added--the offer is still open.

For days after leaving the Sandwich Islands, not a bird was to be seen.
That was a bad omen for land.  Land must be far, indeed; and Cook began
to fear there might be as much ocean in that northern hemisphere as the
geographers of Russia and France--who actually tabulated Bering's
discoveries as an island--had placed on the maps.  But in the first
week of March, a sea-gull came swimming over the crest of a wave.
Where did she come from?  Then an albatross was seen wheeling above the
sea.  Then, on March 6, two lonely land seals went plying past; and
whales were noticed.  Surely they were nearing the region that Drake,
the English freebooter, had seen and named New Albion two hundred years
before.  {184} Suddenly, on the morning of March 7, the dim offing
ahead showed thin, sharp, clear lines.  The lines rose higher as the
ship approached.  They cut themselves against the sky in the form of
mountains and hills with purple mist lying in the valleys.  It was the
New Albion at latitude 44 degrees 33 minutes, which Drake had
discovered.  The day was hazy and warm.  Cook's crews wondered why
Drake had complained of such cold.  By night they found out.  A roaring
hurricane burst from the northern darkness with squalls of hail and
snow and sleet, that turned the shore to one long reach of whitened
cliffs straight up and down out of the sea.  In commemoration, they
called the first landfall, Cape Foulweather; and, in spite of the
commission to sail north, drove under bare poles before the storm to 43
degrees, naming the two capes passed Perpetua and Gregory.  Only by the
third week of March had the storm abated enough for them to turn north

Now, whether the old Greek pilot, Juan de Fuca, lied or dreamed, or
only told a yarn of what some Indian had told him, it was along this
coast that he had said the straits leading to the east side of America
lay; and Cook's two ships hugged the coast as close as they dared for
fear of roaring breakers and a landward wind.  On March 23 rocks were
seen lying off a high point capped with trees, behind which might be a
{185} strait; but a gale ashore and a lashing tide thundering over the
rocks sent the ships scudding for the offing through fog and rain; and
never a glimpse of a passage eastward could the crews obtain.  Cook
called the delusive point Cape Flattery and added: "It is in this very
latitude (48 degrees 15 minutes) that geographers have placed the
pretended Straits of Juan de Fuca; but we saw nothing like it; nor is
there the least possibility that any such thing ever existed."  But
Cook was too far out to descry the narrow opening--but thirteen miles
wide--of Juan de Fuca, where the steamers of three continents ply
to-day; though the strait by no means led to Europe, as geographers

All night a hard gale drove them northward.  When the weather cleared,
permitting them to approach the coast again, high mountains, covered
with snow and forests, jagged through the clouds like tent peaks.
Tremendous breakers roared over sunken rocks.  Point Breakers, Cook
called them.  Then the wind suddenly fell; and the ships were becalmed
directly opposite the narrow entrance of a two-horned cove sheltered by
the mountains.  The small boats had all been mustered out to tow the
two ships in, when a slight breeze sprang up.  The flotilla drifted
inland just as three canoes, carved in bizarre shapes of birds' heads
and eagle claws, came paddling across the inlet.  Three savages were in
one, six in the other, ten in the third.  They came slowly over the
water, singing some song of welcome, beating time with their paddles,
{186} scattering downy white feathers on the air, at intervals standing
up to harangue a welcome to the newcomers.  Soon thirty canoes were
around the ships with some ten warriors in each.  Still they came,
shoals of them, like fish, with savages almost naked, the harbor smooth
as glass, the grand _tyee_, or great chief of the tribes, standing
erect shouting a welcome, with long elf-locks streaming down his back.
Women and children now appeared in the canoes.  That meant peace.  The
women were chattering like magpies; the men gurgling and spluttering
their surprise at the white visitors.  For safety's sake the guns of
the two ships were pointed ready; but the natives did not know the fear
of a gun.  It was the end of March when Cook first anchored off what he
thought was the mainland of America.  It was not mainland, but an
island, and the harbor was one to become famous as the rendezvous of
Pacific traders--Nootka!

Three armed boats commanded by Mr. King, and one under Cook, at once
proceeded from the ships to explore and sound the inlet.  The entrance
had been between two rocky points four miles apart past a chain of
sunken rocks.  Except in a northwest corner of the inlet, since known
as Snug Cove, the water was too deep for anchorage; so the two ships
were moored to trees, the masts unrigged, the iron forge set to work on
the shore; and the men began cutting timber for the new masts.  And
still the tiny specks dancing over the waves carrying canoe loads of
savages to the English ships, {187} continued to multiply till the
harbor seemed alive with warriors--two thousand at least there must
have been by the first week of April after Cook's arrival.  Some of the
savages wore brightly painted wooden masks as part of their gala
attire.  Others carried totems--pieces of wood carved in the likeness
of bird or beast to typify manitou of family or clan.  By way of
showing their prowess, some even offered the white men human skulls
from which the flesh had not yet been taken.  By this Cook knew the
people were cannibals.  Some were observed to be wearing spoons of
European make as ornaments round their necks.  What we desire to
believe we easily accept.  The white men did not ascribe the spoons to
traders from New Spain on the south, or the Russian settlements to the
north; but thought this place must be within trading distance of Hudson
Bay, whence the Indians must have obtained the spoons.  And so they
cherished the hope of a Northeast Passage from this slim sign.  In a
few days fifteen hundred beaver and sea-otter had been obtained in
trade, sixty-nine sea-otter--each of which was worth at that time one
hundred dollars in modern money--for a handful of old nails.

To these deep-sea wanderers of Cook's crews, the harbor was as a
fairy-land.  Snow still covered the mountain tops; but a tangled forest
of dank growth with roots awash in the ripple of the sea, stretched
down the hillsides.  Red cedar, spruce, fir,--of enormous growth,
broader in girth than a cart and {188} wagon in length,--cypress with
twisted and gnarled knots red against the rank green; mosses swinging
from branch to branch in snaky coils wherever the clouds settled and
rested; islands studding the sea like emerald gems; grouse drumming
their spring song through the dark underbrush; sea-mew and Mother
Carey's chickens screaming and clacking overhead; the snowy summits red
as wine in the sunset glow--all made up an April scene long cherished
by these adventurers of the North.

Early one morning in April the men cutting timber inland were startled
to notice the underbrush alive with warriors armed.  The first fear was
of an ambush.  Cook ordered the men to an isolated rock ready for
defence; but the grand _tyee_ or chief explained by signs that his
tribe was only keeping off another tribe that wanted to trade with the
white men.  The worst trouble was from the inordinate thieving
propensities of the natives.  Iron, nails, belaying pins, rudders,
anchors, bits of sail, a spike that could be pulled from the rotten
wood of the outer keel by the teeth of a thief paddling
below--anything, everything was snatched by the light-fingered gentry.
Nor can we condemn them for it.  Their moral standard was the Wolf Code
of Existence--which the white man has elaborated in his evolution--to
take whatever they had the dexterity and strength to take and to keep.
When caught in theft, they did not betray as much sense of guilt as a
dog stealing a bone.  Why should they?  Their {189} code was to take.
The chief of the Nootkas presented Cook with a sea-otter cloak.  Cook
reciprocated with a brass-hilted sword.

By the end of April the ships had been overhauled, and Cook was ready
to sail.  Porpoise were coursing the sea like greyhounds, and the
stormy petrels in a clatter; but Cook was not to be delayed by storm.
Barely had the two ships cleared the harbor, when such a squall broke
loose, they could do nothing but scud for open sea, turn tails to the
wind, and lie helpless as logs, heads south.  If it had not been for
this storm, Cook would certainly have discovered that Nootka was on an
island, not the coast of the mainland; but by the time the weather
permitted an approach to land again, Friday, May 1, the ships were
abreast that cluster of islands below the snowy cone of Mt. Edgecumbe,
Sitka, where Chirikoff's Russians had first put foot on American soil.
Cook was now at the northernmost limit of Spanish voyaging.

By the 4th of May Cook had sighted and passed the Fairweather Range,
swung round westward on the old course followed by Bering, and passed
under the shadow of St. Elias towering through the clouds in a dome of
snow.  On the 6th the ships were at Kyak, where Bering had anchored,
and amid myriad ducks and gulls were approaching a broad inlet
northward.  Now, just as Bering had missed exploring this part of the
coast owing to fog, so Cook had failed to trace that long archipelago
of islands from Sitka Sound {190} northward; but here, where the coast
trends straight westward, was an opening that roused hopes of a
Northeast Passage.  The _Resolution_ had sprung a leak; and in the
second week of May, the inlet was entered in the hope of a shelter to
repair the leak and a way northeast to the Atlantic.  Barely had the
ships passed up the sound, when they were enshrouded in a fog that
wiped out every outline; otherwise, the high coast of glacial
palisades--two hundred feet in places and four miles broad--might have
been seen landlocked by mountains; but Mr. Gore launched out in a small
boat steering north through haze and tide-rip.  Twenty natives were
seen clad in sea-otter skins, by which--the white men judged--no
Russians could have come to this sound; for the Russians would not have
permitted the Indians to keep such valuable sea-otter clothing.  The
glass beads possessed by the natives were supposed to attest proximity
to traders of Hudson Bay.  With an almost animal innocence of wrong,
the Indians tried to steal the small boat of the _Discovery_,
flourishing their spears till the white crew mustered.  At another
time, when the _Discovery_ lay anchored, few lanterns happened to be on
deck.  No sailors were visible.  It was early in the morning and
everybody was asleep, the boat dark.  The natives swarmed up the ship's
sides like ants invading a sugar canister.  Looking down the hatches
without seeing any whites, they at once drew their knives and began to
plunder.  The whites dashed up the hatchway and drove the {191}
plunderers over the rails at sword point.  East and north the small
boats skirted the mist-draped shores, returning at midnight with word
the inlet was a closed shore.  There was no Northeast Passage.  They
called the spider-shaped bay Prince William Sound; and at ten in the
morning headed out for sea.

Here a fresh disappointment awaited them.  The natives of Prince
William Sound had resembled the Eskimos of Greenland so much that the
explorers were prepared to find themselves at the westward end of the
American continent ready to round north into the Atlantic.  A long
ledge of land projected into the sea.  They called this Cape Elizabeth,
passed it, noted the reef of sunken rocks lying directly athwart a
terrific tidal bore, and behold! not the end of the continent--no, not
by a thousand miles--but straight across westward, beneath a smoking
volcano that tinged the fog ruby-red, a lofty, naked spur three miles
out into the sea, with crest hidden among the clouds and rock-base
awash in thundering breakers.  This was called Cape Douglas.  Between
these two capes was a tidal flood of perhaps sixty miles' breadth.
Where did it come from?  Up went hopes again for the Northeast Passage,
and the twenty thousand pounds!  Spite of driftwood, and roily waters,
and a flood that ran ten miles an hour, and a tidal bore that rose
twenty feet, up the passage they tacked, east to west, west to east,
plying up half the month of June in rain and sleet, with the heavy pall
of black smoke {192} rolling from the volcano left far on the offing!
At last the opening was seen to turn abruptly straight east.  Out
rattled the small boats.  Up the muddy waters they ran for nine miles
till salt water became fresh water, and the explorers found themselves
on a river.  In irony, this point was called Turn-Again.  The whole bay
is now known as Cook's Inlet.  Mr. King was sent ashore on the south
side of Turn-Again to take possession.  Twenty natives in sea-otter
skins stood by watching the ceremony of flag unfurled and the land of
their fathers being declared the possession of England.  These natives
were plainly acquainted with the use of iron; but "I will be bold to
say," relates Cook, "they do not know the Russians, or they would not
be wearing these valuable sea-otter skins."

No Northeast Passage here!  So out they ply again for open sea through
misty weather; and when it clears, they are in the green treeless
region west of Cook's Inlet.  Past Kadiak, past Bering's Foggy Island,
past the Shumagins where Bering's first sailor to die of scurvy had
been buried, past volcanoes throwing up immense quantities of blood-red
smoke, past pinnacled rocks, through mists so thick the roar of the
breakers is their only guide, they glide, or drift, or move by inches
feeling the way cautiously, fearful of wreck.

Toward the end of June a great hollow green swell swings them through
the straits past Oonalaska, northward at last!  Natives are seen in
green trousers {193} and European shirts; natives who take off their
hats and make a bow after the pompous fashion of the Russians.

Twice natives bring word to Cook by letter and sign that the Russians
of Oonalaska wish to see him.  But Captain Cook is not anxious to see
the Russians just now.  He wants to forestall their explorations
northward and take possession of the Polar realm for England.  In
August they are in Bristol Bay, north of the Aleutians, directly
opposite Asia.  Here Dr. Anderson, the surgeon, dies of consumption.
Not so much fog now.  They can follow the mainland.  Far ahead there
projects straight out in the sea a long spit of land backed by high
hills, the westernmost point of North America--Cape Prince of Wales!
Bering is vindicated!  Just fifty years from Bering's exploration of
1728, the English navigator finds what Bering found: that America and
Asia are _not_ united; that no Northeast Passage exists; that no great
oceanic body lies north of New Spain; that Alaska--as the Russian maps
had it after Bering's death--is not an island.

Wind, rain, roily, shoaly seas breaking clear over the ship across
decks drove Cook out from land to deeper water.  With an Englishman's
thoroughness for doing things and to make deadly sure just how the two
continents lay to each other, Cook now scuds across Bering Strait
thirty-nine miles to the Chukchee land of Siberia in Asia.  How he
praises the accuracy of poor {194} Bering's work along this coast:
Bering, whose name had been a target for ridicule and contempt from the
time of his death; whose death was declared a blunder; whose voyage was
considered a failure; whose charts had been rejected and distorted by
the learned men of the world.

[Illustration: The Ice Islands.]

From the Chukchee villages of Asia, Cook sailed back to the American
coast, passing north of Bering Straits directly in mid-channel.  It is
an odd thing, while very little ice-drift is met in Bering Sea, you
have no sooner passed north of the straits than a white world surrounds
you.  Fog, ice, ice, fog--endlessly, with palisades of ice twelve feet
high, east and west, far as the eye can see!  The crew amuse themselves
alternately gathering driftwood for fuel, and hunting {195} walrus over
the ice.  It is in the North Pacific that the walrus attains its great
size--nine feet in length, broader across its back than any animal
known to the civilized world.  These piebald yellow monsters lay
wallowing in herds of hundreds on the ice-fields.  At the edge lay
always one on the watch; and no matter how dense the fog, these walrus
herds on the ice, braying and roaring till the surf shook, acted as a
fog-horn to Cook's ships, and kept them from being jammed in the
ice-drift.  Soon two-thirds of the furs got at Nootka had spoiled of
rain-rot.  The vessels were iced like ghost ships.  Tack back and
forward as they might, no passage opened through the ice.  Suddenly
Cook found himself in shoal water, on a lee shore, long and low and
shelving, with the ice drifting on his ships.  He called the place Icy
Cape.  It was their farthest point north; and the third week of August
they were compelled to scud south to escape the ice.  Backing away
toward Asia, he reached the North Cape there.  It was almost September.
In accordance with the secret instructions, Cook turned south to winter
at the Sandwich Islands, passing Serdze Kamen, where Bering had turned
back in 1728, East Cape on the Straits of Bering just opposite the
American Prince of Wales, and St. Lawrence islands where the ships

Norton Sound was explored on the way back; and October saw Cook down at
Oonalaska, where Ledyard was sent overland across the island to conduct
the {196} Russian traders to the English ships.  Three Russians came to
visit Cook.  One averred that he had been with Bering on the expedition
of 1741, and the rough adventurers seemed almost to worship the Dane's
memory.  Later came Ismyloff, chief factor of the Russian fur posts in
Oonalaska, attended by a retinue of thirty native canoes, very suave as
to manners, very polished and pompous when he was not too convivial,
but very chary of any information to the English, whose charts he
examined with keenest interest, giving them to understand that the
Empress of Russia had first claim to all those parts of the country,
rising, quaffing a glass and bowing profoundly as he mentioned the
august name.  "Friends and fellow-countrymen glorious," the English
were to the smooth-tongued Russian, as they drank each other's health.
Learning that Cook was to visit Avacha Bay, Ismyloff proffered a letter
of introduction to Major Behm, Russian commander of Kamchatka.  Cook
thought the letter one of commendation.  It turned out otherwise.  Fur
traders, world over, always resented the coming of the explorer.
Ismyloff was neither better nor worse than his kind.[2]

Heavy squalls pursued the ships all the way from Oonalaska, left on
October 26, to the Sandwich Islands, reached in the new year 1779.  A
thousand canoes of enthusiastic natives welcomed Cook back to the sunny
islands of the Pacific.  Before the explorer {197} could anchor,
natives were swimming round the ship like shoals of fish.  When Cook
landed, the whole population prostrated itself at his feet as if he had
been a god.  It was a welcome change from the desolate cold of the
inhospitable north.

Situated midway in the Pacific, the Sandwich Islands were like an oasis
in a watery waste to Cook's mariners.  The ships had dropped anchor in
the centre of a horn-shaped bay called Karakakooa, in Hawaii, about two
miles from horn to horn.  On the sandy flats of the north horn was the
native village of Kowrowa: amid the cocoanut grove of the other horn,
the village of Kakooa, with a well and Morai, or sacred burying-ground,
close by.  Between the two villages alongshore ran a high ledge of
black coral rocks.  In all there were, perhaps, four hundred houses in
the two villages, with a population of from two to three thousand
warriors; but the bay was the rallying place for the entire group of
islands; and the islands numbered in all several hundred thousand

Picture, then, the scene to these wanderers of the northern seas: the
long coral reef, wave-washed by bluest of seas; the little village and
burying-ground and priests' houses nestling under the cocoanut grove at
one end of the semicircular bay, the village where Terreeoboo, king of
the island, dwelt on the long sand beach at the other end; and swimming
through the water like shoals of fish, climbing over the ships' rigging
like monkeys, crowding the decks of the _Discovery_ {198} so that the
ship heeled over till young chief Pareea began tossing the intruders by
the scuff of the neck back into the sea--hundreds, thousands, of
half-naked, tawny-skinned savages welcoming the white men back to the
islands discovered by them.  Chief among the visitors to the ship was
Koah, a little, old, emaciated, shifty-eyed priest with a wry neck and
a scaly, leprous skin, who at once led the small boats ashore, driving
the throngs back with a magic wand and drawing a mystic circle with his
wizard stick round a piece of ground near the Morai, or burying-place,
where the white men could erect their tents beside the cocoanut groves.
The magic line was called a _taboo_.  Past the tabooed line of the
magic wand not a native would dare to go.  Here Captain King, assisted
by the young midshipman, Vancouver, landed with a guard of eight or ten
mariners to overhaul the ships' masts, while the rest of the two crews
obtained provisions by trade.

Cook was carried off to the very centre of the Morai--a circular
enclosure of solid stone with images and priests' houses at one end,
the skulls of slain captives at the other.  Here priests and people did
the white explorer homage as to a god, sacrificing to him their most
sacred animal--a strangled pig.

All went well for the first few days.  A white gunner, who died, was
buried within the sacred enclosure of the Morai.  The natives loaded
the white men's boats with provisions.  In ten days the wan, gaunt
{199} sailors were so sleek and fat that even the generous entertainers
had to laugh at the transformation.  Old King Terreeoboo came clothed
in a cloak of gaudy feathers with spears and daggers at his belt and a
train of priestly retainers at his heels to pay a visit of state to
Cook; and a guard of mariners was drawn up at arms under the cocoanut
grove to receive the visitor with fitting honor.  When the king learned
that Cook was to leave the bay early in February, a royal proclamation
gathered presents for the ships; and Cook responded by a public display
of fireworks.

Now it is a sad fact that when a highly civilized people meet an
uncivilized people, each race celebrates the occasion by appropriating
all the evil qualities of the other.  Vices, not virtues, are the first
to fraternize.  It was as unfair of Cook's crew to judge the islanders
by the rabble swarming out to steal from the ships, as it would be for
a newcomer to judge the people of New York by the pickpockets and
under-world of the water front.  And it must not be forgotten that the
very quality that had made Cook successful--the quality to dare--was a
danger to him here.  The natives did not violate the sacred _taboo_,
which the priest had drawn round the white men's quarters of the grove.
It was the white men who violated it by going outside the limit; and
the conduct of the white sailors for the sixteen days in port was
neither better nor worse than the conduct of sailors to-day who go on a
wild spree with the lowest elements of the harbor.  {200} The savages
were quick to find out that the white gods were after all only men.
The true story of what happened could hardly be written by Captain
King, who finished Cook's journal; though one can read between the
lines King's fear of his commander's rashness.  The facts of the case
are given by the young American, John Ledyard, of Connecticut, who was
corporal of marines and in the very thick of the fight.

At the end of two weeks the white seamen were, perhaps, satiated of
their own vices, or suffering from the sore head that results from
prolonged spreeing.  At all events the thieving, which had been
condoned at first, was now punished by soundly flogging the natives.
The old king courteously hinted it was time for the white men to go.
The mate, who was loading masts and rudder back on board the
_Resolution_, asked the savages to give him a hand.  The islanders had
lost respect for the white men of such flagrant vices.  They pretended
to give a helping hand, but only jostled the mate about in the crowd.
The Englishman lost his temper, struck out, and blustered.  The shore
rang with the shrill laughter of the throngs.  In vain the chiefs of
authority interposed.  The commands to help the white men were answered
by showers of stones directly inside the _taboo_.  Ledyard was ordered
out with a guard of sailors to protect the white men loading the
_Resolution_.  The guard was pelted black and blue.  "There was nothing
to do," relates Ledyard, "but move to new lands where our vices {201}
were not known."  At last all was in readiness to sail--one thing alone
lacking--wood; and the white men dare not go inland for the needed wood.

So far the entire blame rested on the sailors.  Now Cook committed his
cardinal error.  With that very dare and quickness to utilize every
available means to an end--whether the end justified the means--Cook
ordered his men ashore to seize the rail fence round the top of the
stone burying-ground--the sacred Morai--as fuel for his ships.  Out
rushed the priests from the enclosure in dire distress.  Was this their
reward for protecting Cook with the wand of the sacred _taboo_?  Two
hatchets were offered the leading priest as pay.  He spurned them as
too loathsome to be touched.  Leading the way, Cook ordered his men to
break the fence down, and proffered three hatchets, thrusting them into
the folds of the priest's garment.  Pale and quivering with rage, the
priest bade a slave remove the profaning iron.  Down tumbled the fence!
Down the images on poles!  Down the skulls of the dead sacred to the
savage as the sepulchre to the white man!  It may be said to the credit
of the crew, that the men were thoroughly frightened at what they were
ordered to do; but they were not too frightened to carry away the
images as relics.  Cook alone was blind to risk.  As if to add the last
straw to the Hawaiians' endurance, when the ships unmoored and sailed
out from the bay, where but two weeks before they had been so royally
welcomed, they carried {202} eloping wives and children from the lower
classes of the two villages.

It was one of the cases where retribution came so swift it was like a
living Nemesis.  If the weather had continued fair, doubtless wives and
children would have been dumped off at some near harbor, the incident
considered a joke, and the Englishmen gone merrily on their way; but a
violent gale arose.  Women and children were seized with a seasickness
that was no joke.  The decks resounded with such wails that Cook had to
lie to in the storm, put off the pinnace, and send the visitors ashore.
What sort of a tale they carried back, we may guess.  Meanwhile the
storm had snapped the foremast of the _Resolution_.  As if rushing on
his ruin, Cook steered back for the bay and anchored midway between the
two villages.  Again the tents were pitched beside the Morai under the
cocoanut groves.  Again the wand was drawn round the tenting place; but
the white men had taught the savages that the _taboo_ was no longer
sacred.  Where thousands had welcomed the ships before, not a soul now
appeared.  Not a canoe cut the waters.  Not a voice broke the silence
of the bay.

The sailors were sour; Cook, angry.  When the men rowed to the villages
for fresh provisions, they were pelted with stones.  When at night-time
the savages came to the ships with fresh food, they asked higher prices
and would take only daggers and knives in pay.  Only by firing its
great guns could the {203} _Discovery_ prevent forcible theft by the
savages offering provisions; and in the scuffle of pursuit after one
thief, Pareea--a chief most friendly to the whites--was knocked down by
a white man's oar.  "I am afraid," remarked Cook, "these people will
compel me to use violent measures."  As if to test the mettle of the
tacit threat, Sunday, daybreak, February 14, revealed that the large
rowboat of the _Discovery_ had been stolen.

When Captain King, who had charge of the guard repairing the masts over
under the cocoanut grove came on board Sunday morning, he found Cook
loading his gun, with a line of soldiers drawn up to go ashore in order
to allure the ruler of the islands on board, and hold him as hostage
for the restitution of the lost boat.  Clerke, of the _Discovery_, was
too far gone in consumption to take any part.  Cook led the way on the
pinnace with Ledyard and six marines.  Captain King followed in the
launch with as many more.  All the other small boats of the two ships
were strung across the harbor from Kakooa, where the grove was, to
Kowrowa, where the king dwelt, with orders to fire on any canoe trying
to escape.

Before the fearless leader, the savages prostrated themselves in the
streets.  Cook strode like a conqueror straight to the door of the
king's abode.  It was about nine in the morning.  Old Terreeoboo--peace
lover and lazy--was just awake and only too willing to go aboard with
Cook as the easiest way out {204} of the trouble about the stolen boat.
But just here the high-handedness of Cook frustrated itself.  That line
of small boats stretched across the harbor began firing at an escaping
canoe.  A favorite chief was killed.  Word of the killing came as the
old king was at the water's edge to follow Cook; and a wife caught him
by the arm to drag him back.  Suddenly a throng of a thousand
surrounded the white men.  Some one stabs at Phillips of the marines.
Phillips's musket comes down butt-end on the head of the assailant.  A
spear is thrust in Cook's very face.  He fires blank shot.  The
harmlessness of the shot only emboldens the savages.  Women are seen
hurrying off to the hills; men don their war mats.  There is a rush of
the white men to get positions along the water edge free for striking
room; of the savages to prevent the whites' escape.  A stone hits Cook.
"What man did that?" thunders Cook; and he shoots the culprit dead.
Then the men in the boats lose their heads, and are pouring volleys of
musketry into the crowds.

"It is hopeless," mutters Cook to Phillips; but amid a shower of stones
above the whooping of the savages, he turns with his back to the crowd,
and shouts for the two small boats to cease firing and pull in for the
marines.  His caution came too late.

His back is to his assailants.  An arm reached out--a hand with a
dagger; and the dagger rips quick as a flash under Cook's
shoulder-blade.  He fell without a groan, face in the water, and was
hacked to pieces {205} before the eyes of his men.  Four marines had
already fallen.  Phillips and Ledyard and the rest jumped into the sea
and swam for their lives.  The small boats were twenty yards out.
Scarcely was Phillips in the nearest, when a wounded sailor, swimming
for refuge, fainted and sank to the bottom.  Though half stunned from a
stone blow on his head and bleeding from a stab in the back, Phillips
leaped to the rescue, dived to bottom, caught the exhausted sailor by
the hair of the head and so snatched him into the boat.  The dead and
the arms of the fugitives had been deserted in the wild scramble for

[Illustration: The Death of Cook.]

Meanwhile the masts of the _Resolution_, guarded by {206} only six
marines, were exposed to the warriors of the other village at the
cocoanut grove.  Protected by the guns of the two ships under the
direction of Clerke, who now became commander, masts and men were got
aboard by noon.  At four that afternoon, Captain King rowed toward
shore for Cook's body.  He was met by the little leprous priest Koah,
swimming halfway out.  Though tears of sorrow were in Koah's
treacherous red-rimmed eyes as he begged that Clerke and King might
come ashore to parley.  King judged it prudent to hold tightly on the
priest's spear handle while the two embraced.

Night after night for a week, the conch-shells blew their challenge of
defiance to the white men.  Fires rallying to war danced on the
hillsides.  Howls and shouts of derision echoed from the shore.  The
stealthy paddle of treacherous spies could be heard through the dark
under the keel of the white men's ships.  Cook's clothing, sword, hat,
were waved in scorn under the sailors' faces.  The women had hurried to
the hills.  The old king was hidden in a cave, where he could be
reached only by a rope ladder; and emissary after emissary tried to
lure the whites ashore.  One pitch-dark night, paddles were heard under
the keels.  The sentinels fired; but by lantern light two terrified
faces appeared above the rail of the _Resolution_.  Two frightened,
trembling savages crawled over the deck, prostrated themselves at
Clerke's feet, and slowly unrolled a small wrapping of cloth that
revealed a small {207} piece of human flesh--the remains of Cook.  Dead
silence fell on the horrified crew.  Then Clerke's stern answer was
that unless the bones of Cook were brought to the ships, both native
villages would be destroyed.  The two savages were former friends of
Cook's and warned the whites not to be allured on land, nor to trust
Koah, the leper priest, on the ships.

Again the conch-shells blew their challenge all night through the
darkness.  Again the war fires danced; but next morning the guns of the
_Discovery_ were trained on Koah, when he tried to come on board.  That
day sailors were landed for water and set fire to the village of the
cocoanut groves to drive assailants back.  How quickly human nature may
revert to the beast type!  When the white sailors returned from this
skirmish, they carried back to the ships with them, the heads of two
Hawaiians they had slain.  By Saturday, the 20th, masts were in place
and the boats ready to sail.  Between ten and eleven o'clock in the
morning, a long procession of people was seen filing slowly down the
hills preceded by drummers and a white flag.  Word was signalled that
Cook's bones were on shore to be delivered.  Clerke put out in a small
boat to receive the dead commander's remains--from which all flesh had
been burned.  On Sunday, the 21st, the entire bay was tabooed.  Not a
native came out of the houses.  Silence lay over the waters.  The
funeral service was read on board the _Resolution_, and the coffin
committed to the deep.

{208} A curious reception awaited the ships at Avacha Bay, Kamchatka,
whence they now sailed.  Ismyloff's letter commending the explorers to
the governor of Avacha Bay brought thirty Cossack soldiers floundering
through the shore ice of Petropaulovsk under the protection of pointed
cannon.  Ismyloff, with fur trader's jealousy of intrusion, had warned
the Russian commander that the English ships were pirates like
Benyowsky, the Polish exile, who had lately sacked the garrisons of
Kamchatka, stolen the ships, and sailed to America.  However, when
Cook's letters were carried overland to Bolcheresk, to Major Behm, the
commander, all went well.  The little log-thatched fort with its
windows of talc opened wide doors to the far-travelled English.  The
Russian ladies of the fort donned their China silks.  The samovars were
set singing.  English sailors gave presents of their grog to the
Russians.  Russian Cossacks presented their tobacco to the English,
adding three such cheers as only Cossacks can give and a farewell song.

In 1779 Clerke made one more attempt to pass through the northern
ice-fields from Pacific to Atlantic; but he accomplished nothing but to
go over the ground explored the year before under Cook.  On the 5th of
July at ten P.M. in the lingering sunlight of northern latitudes, just
as the boats were halfway through the Straits of Bering, the fog
lifted, and for the first time in history--as far as known--the
westernmost part of America, Cape Prince of Wales, and the {209}
eastern-most part of Asia, East Cape, were simultaneously seen by white

Finding it impossible to advance eastward, Clerke decided there was no
Northeast Passage by way of the Pacific to the Atlantic; and on the
21st of July, to the cheers of his sailors, announced that the ships
would turn back for England.[3]

Poor Clerke died of consumption on the way, August 22, 1779, only
thirty-eight years of age, and was buried at Petropaulovsk beside La
Croyére de l'Isle, who perished on the Bering expedition.  The boats
did not reach England till October of 1780.  They had not won the
reward of twenty thousand pounds; but they had charted a strange coast
for a distance of three thousand five hundred miles, and paved the way
for the vast commerce that now plies between Occident and Orient.[4]

[1] The question may occur, why in the account of Cook's and Bering's
voyage, the latitude is not oftener given.  The answer is, the
latitudes as given by Cook and Bering vary so much from the modern, it
would only confuse the reader trying to follow a modern map.

[2] This is the Ismyloff who was marooned by Benyowsky.

[3] The authority for Cook's adventures is, of course, his own journal,
_Voyage to the Pacific Ocean_, London, 1784, supplemented by the
letters and journals of men who were with him, like Ledyard, Vancouver,
Portlock, and Dixon, and others.

[4] In reiterating the impossibility of finding a passage from ocean to
ocean, either northeast or northwest, no disparagement is cast on such
feats as that of Nordenskjöld along the north of Asia, in the _Vega_ in

By "passage" is meant a waterway practicable for ocean vessels, not for
the ocean freak of a specially constructed Arctic vessel that dodges
for a year or more among the ice-floes in an endeavor to pass from
Atlantic to Pacific, or _vice versa_.





Boston Merchants, inspired by Cook's Voyages, outfit two Vessels under
Kendrick and Gray for Discovery and Trade on the Pacific--Adventures of
the First Ship to carry the American Flag around the World--Gray
attacked by Indians at Tillamook Bay--His Discovery of the Columbia
River on the Second Voyage--Fort Defence and the First American Ship
built on the Pacific

It is an odd thing that wherever French or British fur traders went to
a new territory, they found the Indians referred to American traders,
not as "Americans," but "Bostons" or "_Bostonnais_."  The reason was
plain.  Boston merchants won a reputation as first to act.  It was they
who began a certain memorable "Boston Tea Party"; and before the rest
of the world had recovered the shock of that event, these same
merchants were planning to capture the trade of the Pacific Ocean, get
possession of all the Pacific coast not already preëmpted by Spain,
Russia, or England, and push American commerce across the Pacific to

{211} What with slow printing-presses and slow travel, the account of
Cook's voyages on the Pacific did not become generally known in the
United States till 1785 or 1786.  Sitting round the library of Dr.
Bulfinch's residence on Bowdoin Square in Boston one night in 1787,
were half a dozen adventurous spirits for whom Cook's account of the
fur trade on the Pacific had an irresistible fascination.  There was
the doctor himself.  There was his son, Charles, of Harvard, just back
from Europe and destined to become famous as an architect.  There was
Joseph Barrell, a prosperous merchant.  There was John Derby, a
shipmaster of Salem, a young man still, but who, nevertheless, had
carried news of Lexington to England.  Captain Crowell Hatch of
Cambridge, Samuel Brown, a trader of Boston, and John Marden Pintard of
the New York firm of Lewis Pintard Company were also of the little

[Illustration: Departure of the _Columbia_ and the _Lady Washington_.
Drawn by George Davidson, a member of the Expedition.  Photographed by
courtesy of the present owner, Mrs. Abigail Quincy Twombly.]

If Captain Cook's crew had sold one-third of a water-rotted cargo of
otter furs in China for ten thousand dollars, why, these Boston men
asked themselves, could not ships fitted expressly for the fur trade
capture a fortune in trade on that unoccupied strip of coast between
Russian Alaska, on the north, and New Spain, on the south?

"There is a rich harvest to be reaped by those who are on the ground
first out there," remarked Joseph Barrell.

Then the thing was to be on the ground first--that {212} was the
unanimous decision of the shrewd-headed men gathered in Bulfinch's

[Illustration: Charles Bulfinch.]

The sequence was that Charles Bulfinch and the other five at once
formed a partnership with a capital of fifty thousand dollars, divided
into fourteen shares, for trade on the Pacific.  This was ten years
before Lewis and Clark reached the Columbia, almost twenty years before
Astor had thought of his Pacific Company.  The Columbia, a full-rigged
two-decker, two hundred and twelve tons and eighty-three feet long,
mounting {213} ten guns, which had been built fourteen years before on
Hobart's Landing, North River, was immediately purchased.  But a
smaller ship to cruise about inland waters and collect furs was also
needed; and for this purpose the partners bought the _Lady Washington_,
a little sloop of ninety tons.  Captain John Kendrick of the merchant
marine was chosen to command the _Columbia_, Robert Gray, a native of
Rhode Island, who had served in the revolutionary navy, a friend of
Kendrick's, to be master of the _Lady Washington_.  Kendrick was of
middle age, cautious almost to indecision; but Gray was younger with
the daring characteristic of youth.

In order to insure a good reception for the ships, letters were
obtained from the federal government to foreign powers.  Massachusetts
furnished passports; and the Spanish minister to the United States gave
letters to the viceroy of New Spain.  Just how the information of
Boston plans to intrude on the Pacific coast was received by New Spain
may be judged by the confidential commands at once issued from Santa
Barbara to the Spanish officer at San Francisco: "_Whenever there may
arrive at the Port of San Francisco, a ship named the Columbia said to
belong to General Wanghington (Washington) of the American States,
under command of John Kendrick which sailed from Boston in September
1787 bound on a voyage of Discovery and of Examination of the Russian
Establishments on the Northern Coast of this Peninsula, you {214} will
cause said vessel to be secured together with her officers and crew._"

Orders were also given Kendrick and Gray to avoid offence to any
foreign power, to treat the natives with kindness and Christianity, to
obtain a cargo of furs on the American coast, to proceed with the same
to China to be exchanged for a cargo of tea, and to return to Boston
with the tea.  The holds of the vessels were then stowed with every
trinket that could appeal to the savage heart, beads, brass buttons,
ear-rings, calico, tin mirrors, blankets, hunting-knives, copper
kettles, iron chisels, snuff, tobacco.  The crews were made up of the
very best class of self-respecting sea-faring men.  Woodruff,
Kendrick's first mate, had been with Cook.  Joseph Ingraham, the second
mate, rose to become a captain.  Robert Haswell, the third mate, was
the son of a British naval officer.  Richard Howe went as accountant;
Dr. Roberts, as surgeon; Nutting, formerly a teacher, as astronomer;
and Treat, as fur trader.  Davis Coolidge was the first mate under Gray
on the _Lady Washington_.

Some heroes blunder into glory.  These didn't.  They deliberately set
out with the full glory of their venture in view.  Whatever the profit
and loss account might show when they came back, they were well aware
that they were attempting the very biggest and most venturesome thing
the newly federated states had essayed in the way of exploration and
trade.  To {215} commemorate the event, Joseph Barrell had medals
struck in bronze and silver showing the two vessels on one side, the
names of the outfitters on the other.  All Saturday afternoon sailors
and officers came trundling down to the wharf, carpet bags and seamen's
chests in tow, to be rowed out where the Columbia and Lady Washington
lay at anchor.  Boston was a Sabbath-observing city in those days; but
even Boston could not keep away from the two ships heaving to the tide,
which for the first time in American history were to sail around an
unknown world.  All Saturday night and Sunday morning the sailors
scoured the decks and put berths shipshape; and all Sunday afternoon
the visitors thronged the decks.  By night outfitters and relatives
were still on board.  The medals of commemoration were handed round.
Health and good luck and God speed were drunk unto the heel taps.
Songs resounded over the festive board.  It was all "mirth and glee"
writes one of the men on {216} board.  But by daybreak the ships had
slipped cables.  The tide, that runs from round the underworld, raced
bounding to meet them.  A last dip of land behind; and on Monday,
October 1, 1787, the ships' prows were cleaving the waters of their

[Illustration: Medals commemorating _Columbia_ and _Lady Washington_

The course lay from Boston to Cape Verde Islands, from Verde Islands to
the Falklands north of Cape Horn, round Cape Horn, up the west coast of
South America, touching at Masafuera and Juan Fernandez, and thence,
without pause, to the west coast of North America.  At Cape Verde, Gray
hired a valet, a colored boy, Marcus Lopez, destined to play an
important part later.  Crossing the equator, the sailors became
hilarious, playing the usual pranks of ducking the men fresh to
equatorial waters.  So long did the ships rest at the Verde Islands,
taking in fresh provisions, that it was January before the Falkland
Islands were reached.  Here Kendrick's caution became almost fear.  He
was averse to rounding the stormy Horn in winter.  Roberts, the
surgeon, and Woodruff, who had been with Cook, had become disgusted
with Kendrick's indecision at Cape Verde, and left, presumably taking
passage back on some foreign cruiser.  Haswell, then, went over as
first mate to Gray.  Mountain seas and smashing gales assailed the
ships from the time they headed for the Horn in April of 1788.  The
_Columbia_ was tossed clear up on her beam ends, and sea after sea
crashed over the little {217} _Lady Washington_, drenching everything
below decks like soap-suds in a rickety tub.  Then came a hurricane of
cold winds coating the ship in ice like glass, till the yard-arms
looked like ghosts.  Between scurvy and cold, there was not a sailor
fit to man the decks.  Somewhere down at 57 degrees south, westward of
the Horn, the smashing seas and driving winds separated the two ships;
but as they headed north, bright skies and warm winds welcomed them to
the Pacific.  At Masafuera, off Chile, the ships would have landed for
fresh water; but a tremendous backwash of surf forewarned reefs; and
the _Lady Washington_ stretched her sails for the welcome warm winds,
and tacked with all speed to the north.  A few weeks later, Kendrick
was compelled to put in for Juan Fernandez to repair the _Columbia_ and
rest his scurvy-stricken crew.  They were given all aid by the governor
of the island, who was afterward reprimanded by the viceroy of Chile
and degraded from office for helping these invaders of the South Seas.

Meantime the little sloop, guided by the masterful and enthusiastic
Gray, showed her heels to the sea.  Soon a world of deep-sea, tropical
wonders was about the American adventurers.  The slime of medusa lights
lined the long foam trail of the _Lady Washington_ each night.
Dolphins raced the ship, herd upon herd, their silver-white bodies
aglisten in the sun.  Schools of spermaceti-whales to the number of
twenty at a time gambolled lazily around the prow.  Stormy petrels,
{218} flying-fish, sea-lions, began to be seen as the boat passed north
of the seas bordering New Spain.  Gentle winds and clear sunlight
favored the ship all June.  The long, hard voyage began to be a summer
holiday on warm, silver seas.  The _Lady Washington_ headed inland, or
where land should be, where Francis Drake two centuries before had
reported that he had found New Albion.  On August 2, somewhere near
what is now Cape Mendocino, daylight revealed a rim of green forested
hills above the silver sea.  It was New Albion, north of New Spain, the
strip of coast they had come round the world to find.  Birds in myriads
on myriads screamed the joy that the crew felt over their find; but a
frothy ripple told of reefs; and the _Lady Washington_ coasted parallel
with the shore-line northward.  On August 4, while the surf still broke
with too great violence for a landing, a tiny speck was seen dancing
over the waves like a bird.  As the distance lessened, the speck grew
and resolved itself to a dugout, or long canoe, carved with bizarre
design stem and stern, painted gayly on the keel, carrying ten Indians,
who blew birds' down of friendship in midair, threw open their arms
without weapons, and made every sign of friendship.  Captain Gray
tossed them presents over the deck rail; but the whistle of a gale
through the riggings warned to keep off the rock shore; and the sloop's
prow cut waves for the offing.  All night camp-fires and columns of
smoke could be seen on shore, showing that the coast was inhabited.
Under {219} clouds of sail, the sloop beat north for ten days, passing
many savages, some of whom held up sea-otter to trade, others running
along the shore brandishing their spears and shouting their war-cry.
Two or three at a time were admitted on board to trade; but they
evinced such treacherous distrust, holding knives ready to strike in
their right hand, that Gray was cautious.

During the adverse wind they had passed one opening on the coast that
resembled the entrance to a river.  Was this the fabled river of the
West, that Indians said ran to the setting sun?  Away up in the
Athabasca Country of Canadian wilds was another man, Alexander
Mackenzie, setting to himself that same task of finding the great river
of the West.  Besides, in 1775, Heceta, the Spanish navigator from
Monterey, had drifted close to this coast with a crew so stricken with
scurvy not a man could hoist anchor or reef sails.  Heceta thought he
saw the entrance to a river; but was unable to come within twenty miles
of the opening to verify his supposition.  And now Gray's crew were on
the watch for that supposed river; but more mundane things than glory
had become pressing needs.  Water was needed for drinking.  The ship
was out of firewood.  The live stock must have hay; and in the crew of
twelve, three-quarters were ill of the scurvy.  These men must be taken
ashore.  Somewhere near what is now Cape Lookout, or Tillamook Bay, the
rowboat was launched to sound, safe anchorage found, and the _Lady
Washington_ towed in harbor.

{220} The _Lady Washington_ had anchored about half a mile from shore,
but the curiously carved canoes came dancing over the waves in myriads.
Gray noticed the natives were all armed with spears and knives, but
they evinced great friendliness, bringing the crew baskets of berries
and boiled crabs and salmon, in exchange for brass buttons.  They had
anchored at ten on the night of August 14, and by the afternoon of the
15th the Indians were about the sloop in great numbers, trading otter
skins for knives, axes, and other arms--which, in itself, ought to have
put the crew on guard.  When the white men went ashore for wood and
water, the Indians stood silently by, weapons in hand, but offered no
hostility.  On the third day in harbor an old chief came on board
followed by a great number of warriors, all armed.  Gray kept careful
guard, and the old Indian departed in possession of the stimulating
fact that only a dozen hands manned the _Lady Washington_.  Waiting for
the tide the next afternoon, Haswell and Coolidge, the two mates, were
digging clams on shore.  Lopez, the black man, and seven of the crew
were gathering grass for the stock.  Only three men remained on the
sloop with Captain Gray.  Only two muskets and three or four cutlasses
had been brought ashore.  Haswell and Coolidge had their belt pistols
and swords.  The two mates approached the native village.  The Indians
began tossing spears, as Haswell thought, to amuse their visitors.
That failing to inspire these white men, {221} rash as children, with
fear, the Indians formed a ring, clubbed down their weapons in
pantomime, and executed all the significant passes of the famous
war-dance.  "It chilled my veins," says Haswell; and the two mates had
gone back to their clam digging, when there was a loud, angry shout.
Glancing just where the rowboat lay rocking abreast the hay cutters,
Haswell saw an Indian snatch at the cutlass of Lopez, the black, who
had carelessly stuck it in the sand.  With a wild halloo, the thief
dashed for the woods, the black in pursuit, mad as a hornet.

Haswell went straight to the chief and offered a reward for the return
of the sword, or the black man.  The old chief taciturnly signalled for
Haswell to do his own rescuing.

Theft and flight had both been part of a design to scatter the white
men.  "They see we are ill armed," remarked Haswell to the other.
Bidding the boat row abreast with six of the hay cutters, the two mates
and a third man ran along the beach in the direction Lopez had
disappeared.  A sudden turn into a grove of trees showed Lopez
squirming mid a group of Indians, holding the thief by the neck and
shouting for "help!  help!"  No sooner had the three whites come on the
scene, than the Indians plunged their knives in the boy's back.  He
stumbled, rose, staggered forward, then fell pierced by a flight of
barbed arrows.  Haswell had only time to see the hostiles fall on his
body like a pack of wolves on prey, when more Indians {222} emerged
from the rear, and the whites were between two war parties under a
shower of spears.  A wild dash was made to head the fugitives off from
shore.  Haswell and Coolidge turned, pistols in hand, while the rowboat
drew in.  Another flight of arrows, when the mates let go a charge of
pistol shot that dropped the foremost three Indians.  Shouting for the
rowers to fire, Haswell, Coolidge, and the sailor plunged into the
water.  To make matters worse, the sailor fainted from loss of blood,
and the pursuers threw themselves into the water with a whoop.  Hauling
the wounded man in the boat, the whites rowed for dear life.  The
Indians then launched their canoes to pursue, but by this time Gray had
the cannon of the _Lady Washington_ trained ashore, and three shots
drove the hostiles scampering.  For two days tide and wind and a
thundering surf imprisoned Gray in Murderers' Harbor, where he had
hoped to find the River of the West, but met only danger.  All night
the savages kept up their howling; but on the third day the wind
veered.  All sails set, the sloop scudded for the offing, glad to keep
some distance between herself and such a dangerous coast.

The advantage of a small boat now became apparent.  In the same
quarter, Cook was compelled to keep out from the coast, and so reported
there were no Straits of Fuca.  By August 21 the sloop was again close
enough to the rocky shore to sight the snowy, opal {223} ranges of the
Olympus Mountains.  By August 26 they had passed the wave-lashed rocks
of Cape Flattery, and the mate records; "I am of opinion that the
Straits of Fuca exist; for in the very latitude they are said to lie,
the coast takes a bend, probably the entrance."

[Illustration: Building the first American Ship on the Pacific Coast.
Photographed by courtesy of Mrs. Abigail Quincy Twombly, a descendant
of Gray.]

By September, after frequent stops to trade with the Indians, they were
well abreast of Nootka, where Cook had been ten years before.  A
terrible ground-swell of surf and back-wash raged over projecting
reefs.  The Indians, here, knew English words enough to tell Gray that
Nootka lay farther east, and that a Captain Meares was there with two
vessels.  A strange sail appeared inside the harbor.  Gray thought it
was the belated _Columbia_ under Kendrick; but a rowboat came out
bearing Captain Meares himself, who breakfasted with the Americans on
September 17, and had his long-boats tow the _Lady Washington_ inside
Nootka, where Gray was surprised to see two English snows under
Portuguese colors, with a cannon-mounted garrison on shore, and a
schooner of thirty tons, the _Northwest-America_, all ready to be
launched.  This was the first ship built on the northwest coast.  Gray
himself later built the second.  Amid salvos of cannon from the _Lady
Washington_, the new fur vessel was launched from her skids; and in her
honor September 19 was observed as a holiday, Meares and Douglas, the
two English captains, entertaining Gray and his officers.  Meares had
come from China in {224} January, and during the summer had been up the
Straits of Fuca, where another English captain, Barclay, had preceded
him.  Then Meares had gone south past Flattery, seeking in vain for the
River of the West.  Gales and breakers had driven him off the coast,
and the very headland which hid the mouth of the Columbia, he had named
Cape Disappointment, because he was so sure--in his own words--"that
the river on the Spanish charts did not exist."  He had also been down
the coast to that Tillamook, or Cape Meares, where Gray's valet had
been murdered.  This was in July, a month before the assault on Gray;
and if Haswell's report of Meares's cruelty be accepted--taking furs by
force of arms--that may have explained the hostility to the Americans.
Meares was short of provisions to go to China, and Gray supplied them.
In return Meares set his workmen to help clean the keel of the _Lady
Washington_ from barnacles; but the Englishman was a true fur trader to
the core.  In after-dinner talks, on the day of the launch, he tried to
frighten the Americans away from the coast.  Not fifty skins in a year
were to be had, he said.  Only the palisades and cannon protected him
from the Indians, of whom there were more than two thousand hostiles at
Nootka, he reported.  They could have his fort for firewood after he
left.  He had purchased the right to build it from the Indians.
(Whether he acknowledged that he paid the Indians only two old pistols
for this privilege, is not recorded.)  At all events, it {225} would
not be worth while for the Americans to remain on the coast.  The
Americans listened and smiled.  Meares offered to carry any mail to
China, and on the 2d was towed out of port by Gray and the other
English captain, Douglas; but what was Gray's astonishment to receive
the packet of mail back from Douglas.  Meares had only pretended to
carry it out in order that none of his crew might be bribed to take it,
and then had sent it back by his partner, Douglas--true fur trader in
checkmating the moves of rivals.  Later on, when Meares's men were in
desperate straits in this same port, they wondered that the Americans
stood apart from the quarrel, if not actually siding with Spain.

On September 23 appeared a strange sail on the offing--the _Columbia_,
under Kendrick, sails down and draggled, spars storm-torn, two men dead
of scurvy, and the crew all ill.

October 1 celebrated a grand anniversary of the departure from Boston
the previous year.  At precisely midday the _Columbia_ boomed out
thirteen guns.  The sloop set the echoes rocketing with another
thirteen.  Douglas's ship roared out a salute of seven cannon shots,
the fort on land six more, and the day was given up to hilarity, all
hands dining on board the _Columbia_ with such wild fowl as the best
game woods in the world afforded, and copious supply of Spanish wines.
Toasts were drunk to the first United States ship on the Pacific coast
of America.  On October 26 {226} Douglas's ship and the fur trader,
_Northwest-America_, were towed out, bound for the Sandwich Islands,
and the Americans were left alone on the northwest coast, the fort
having been demolished, and the logs turned over to Kendrick for

[Illustration: Feather Cloak worn by a son of an Hawaiian Chief, at the
celebration in honor of Gray's return.  Photographed by courtesy of
Mrs. Joy, the present owner.]

The winter of 1788-1789 passed uneventfully except that the English
were no sooner out of the harbor, than the Indians, who had kept
askance of the Americans, came in flocks to trade.  Inasmuch as Cook's
name is a household word, world over, for what he did on the Pacific
coast, and Gray's name barely known outside the city of Boston and the
state of {227} Oregon, it is well to follow Gray's movements on the
_Lady Washington_.  March found him trading south of Nootka at
Clayoquot, named Hancock, after the governor of Massachusetts.  April
saw him fifty miles up the Straits of Fuca, which Cook had said did not
exist.  Then he headed north again, touching at Nootka, where he found
Douglas, the Englishman, had come back from the Sandwich Islands with
the two ships.  Passing out of Nootka at four in the afternoon of May
1, he met a stately ship, all sails set, twenty guns pointed, under
Spanish colors, gliding into the harbor.  It was the flag-ship of Don
Joseph Martinez, sent out to Bering Sea on a voyage of discovery, with
a consort, and now entering Nootka to take possession in the name of
Spain.  Martinez examined Gray's passports, learned that the Americans
had no thought of laying claim to Nootka and, finding out about
Douglas's ship inside the harbor, seemed to conclude that it would be
wise to make friends of the Americans; and he presented Gray with
wines, brandy, hams, and spices.

"She will make a good prize," was his sententious remark to Gray about
the English ship.

Rounding northward, Gray met the companion ship of the Spanish
commander.  It will be remembered Cook missed proving that the west
coast was a chain of islands.  Since Cook's time, Barclay, an
Englishman, and Meares had been in the Straits of Fuca.  Dixon had
discovered Queen Charlotte Island; but {228} the cruising of the little
sloop, _Lady Washington_, covered a greater area than Meares's,
Barclay's and Dixon's ships together.  First it rounded the north end
of Vancouver, proving this was island, not continent.  These northern
waters Gray called Derby Sound, after the outfitter.  He then passed up
between Queen Charlotte Island and the continent for two hundred miles,
calling this island Washington.  It was northward of Portland Canal,
somewhere near what is now Wrangel, that the brave little sloop was
caught in a terrific gale that raged over her for two hours, damaging
masts and timbers so that Gray was compelled to turn back from what he
called Distress Cove, for repairs at Nootka.  At one point off Prince
of Wales Island, the Indians willingly traded two hundred otter skins,
worth eight thousand dollars, for an old iron chisel.

In the second week of June the sloop was back at Nootka, where Gray was
not a little surprised to find the Spanish had erected a fort on Hog
Island, seized Douglas's vessel, and only released her on condition
that the little fur trader _Northwest-America_ should become Spanish
property on entering Nootka.

Gray and Kendrick now exchanged ships, Gray, who had proved himself the
swifter navigator, going on the _Columbia_, taking Haswell with him as
mate.  In return for one hundred otter skins, Gray was to carry the
captured crew of the _Northwest-America_ to China for the Spaniards.
On July 30, 1789, he left Vancouver Island.  Stop was made at Hawaii
for {229} provisions, and Atto, the son of a chief, boarded the
_Columbia_ to visit America.  On December 6 the _Columbia_ delivered
her cargo of furs to Shaw & Randall of Canton, receiving in exchange
tea for Samuel Parkman, of Boston.  It was February, 1790, before the
Columbia was ready to sail for Boston, and dropping down the river she
passed the _Lady Washington_, under Kendrick, in a cove where the gale
hid her from Gray.

[Illustration: John Derby, from the portrait by Gilbert Stuart, by
courtesy of the owner, Dr. George B. Shattuck.]

On August 11, 1790, after rounding Good Hope and touching at St.
Helena, Gray entered Boston.  It was the first time an American ship
had gone round the world, almost fifty thousand miles, her log-book
showed, and salvos of artillery thundered a welcome.  General Lincoln,
the port collector, was first on board to shake Gray's hand.  The whole
city of Boston was on the wharf to cheer him home, and the explorer
walked up the streets side by side with Atto, the Hawaiian boy,
gorgeous in helmet and cloak of yellow plumage.  Governor Hancock gave
a public reception to Gray.  The _Columbia_ went to the shipyards to be
overhauled, and the shareholders met.

Owing to the glutting of the market at Canton, the sea-otter had not
sold well.  Practically the venture of these glory seekers had not
ended profitably.  The voyage had been at a loss.  Derby and Pintard
sold out to Barrell and Brown.  But the lure of glory, or the wilds, or
the venture of the unknown, was on the others.  They decided to send
the _Columbia_ back at {230} once on a second voyage.  Perhaps, this
time, she would find that great River of the West, which was to be to
the Pacific coast what the Hudson was to the East.

[Illustration: Map of Gray's two voyages, resulting in the discovery of
the Columbia.]

Coolidge and Ingraham now left the _Columbia_ for ventures of their own
to the Pacific.  Haswell, whose diary, with Gray's log-book, gives all
details of the voyage, went as first mate.  George Davidson, an artist,
Samuel Yendell, a carpenter, Haskins, an accountant of Barrell's
Company, Joshua Caswell of Maiden, Abraham Waters, and John Boit were
the new men to enlist for the venturesome voyage.  The _Columbia_ left
Boston for a second voyage September 28, 1790, and reached Clayoquot on
the west coast of Vancouver Island on June 5, 1791.  True to his
nature, Gray lost not a day, but was off for the sea-otter harvest of
the north, up Portland Canal near what is now Alaska.  The dangers of
the first voyage proved a holiday compared to this trip.  Formerly,
Gray had treated the Indians with kindness.  Now, he found kindness was
mistaken only for fear.  Joshua Caswell, Barnes, and Folger had been
sent up Portland Canal to reconnoitre.  Whether ambushed or openly
assaulted, they never returned.  Only Caswell's body was found, and
buried on the beach.  Later, when the grave was revisited, the body had
been stolen, in all likelihood for cannibal rites, as no more degraded
savages exist than those of this archipelago.  Over on Queen Charlotte
Island, Kendrick, who had returned from China on the _Lady Washington_,
{232} was having his own time.  One day, when all had gone below decks
to rest, a taunting laugh was heard from the hatchway.  Kendrick rushed
above to find Indians scrambling over the decks of the _Lady
Washington_ like a nest of disgruntled hornets.  A warrior flourished
the key of the ammunition chest, which stood by the hatchway, in
Kendrick's face with the words: "Key is mine!  So is the ship!"

If Kendrick had hesitated for the fraction of a second, all would have
been lost, as on Astor's ship a few years later; but before the savages
had time for any concerted signal, he had seized the speaker by the
scruff of the neck, and tossed him into the sea.  In a second every
savage had scuttled over decks; but the scalp of Kendrick's son Solomon
was found on the beach.  Henceforth neither Kendrick nor Gray allowed
more than ten savages on board at a time, and Kendrick at once headed
south to take the harvest of furs to China.  At Nootka things had gone
from bad to worse between the English and the Spaniards.  Though
Kendrick bought great tracts of land from the Indian chiefs at Nootka
for the price of a copper kettle, he judged it prudent to keep away
from a Spanish commander, whose mission it was to capture the ships of
rival traders; so the American sloop moored in Clayoquot, south of
Nootka, where Gray found Kendrick ready to sail for China by September.

At Clayoquot was built the first American fort on the Pacific coast.
Here Gray erected winter quarters.  {233} The _Columbia_ was unrigged
and beached.  The dense forest rang with the sound of the choppers.
The enormous spruce, cedar, and fir trees were hewn into logs for
several cabins and a barracks, the bark slabs being used as a palisade.
Inside the main house were quarters for ten men.  Loopholes punctured
all sides of the house.  Two cannon were mounted outside the window
embrasures, one inside the gate or door.  The post was named Fort
Defence.  Sentinels kept guard night and day.  Military discipline was
maintained, and divine service held each Sunday.  On October 3 timbers
were laid for a new ship, to be called the _Adventure_, to collect furs
for the _Columbia_.  All the winter of 1791-1792, Gray visited the
Indians, sent medicines to their sick, allowed his men to go shooting
with them, and even nursed one ill chief inside the barracks; but he
was most careful not to allow women or more than a few warriors inside
the fort.

What was his horror, then, on February 18, when Atto, the Hawaiian boy,
came to him with news that the Indians, gathered to the number of two
thousand, and armed with at least two hundred muskets got in trade, had
planned the entire extermination of the whites.  They had offered to
make the Hawaiian boy a great chief among them if he would steal more
ammunition for the Indians, wet all the priming of the white men's
arms, and join the conspiracy to let the savages get possession of fort
and ship.  In the history of American pathfinding, no explorer was ever
in greater {234} danger.  Less than a score of whites against two
thousand armed warriors!  Scarcely any ammunition had been brought in
from the _Columbia_.  All the swivels of the dismantled ship were lying
on the bank.  Gray instantly took advantage of high tide to get the
ship on her sea legs, and out from the bank.  Swivels were  trundled
with all speed back to the decks.  For that night a guard watched the
fort; but the next night, when the assault was expected, all hands were
on board, provisions had been stowed in the hold, and small arms were
loaded.  The men were still to mid-waist in water, scraping barnacles
from the keel, when a whoop sounded from the shore; but the change in
the ship's position evidently upset the plans of the savages, for they
withdrew.  On the morning of the 20th the woods were seen to be alive
with ambushed men; and Haswell had the cannon loaded with canister
fired into the woods.  At eleven that very morning, the chief, at the
head of the plot, came to sell otter skins, and ask if some of the crew
would not visit the village.  Gray jerked the skins from his arms, and
the rascal was over decks in terror of his life.  That was the end of
the plot.  On the 23d the _Adventure_ was launched, the second vessel
built on the Pacific, the first American vessel built there at all; and
by April 2 Haswell was ready to go north on her.  Gray on the
_Columbia_ was going south to have another try at that great River of
the West, which Spanish charts represented.

{235} Without a doubt, if the river existed at all, it was down behind
that Cape Disappointment where Meares had failed to go in, and Heceta
been driven back.  Just what Gray did between April 2 and May 7 is a
matter of guessing.  Anyway, Captain George Vancouver sent out from
England to settle the dispute about Nootka, at six o'clock on the
morning of April 29, just off the wave-lashed rocks of Cape Flattery,
and within sight of Olympus's snowy sky-line, noticed a ship on the
offing carrying American colors.  He sent Mr. Puget and Mr. Menzies to

They brought back word that Gray "had been off the mouth of a river in
46 degrees 10 minutes where the outset and reflux was so strong as to
prevent entering for nine days," and that Gray had been fifty miles up
the Straits of Fuca.

Both facts were distasteful to Vancouver.  He had wished to be the
first to explore the Straits of Fuca, and on only April 27, had passed
an opening which he pronounced inaccessible and not a river, certainly
not a river worthy of his attention.  Yet the exact words of Captain
Bruno Heceta, the Spaniard, in 1775 were: "These currents . . . cause
me to believe that the place is the mouth of some great river. . . .  I
did not enter and anchor there because . . . if we let go the anchor,
we had not enough men to get it up.  (Thirty-five were down with
scurvy.) . . .  At the distance of three or four leagues, I lay too.  I
experienced heavy currents, which made it impossible to enter the {236}
bay, as I was far to leeward. . . .  These currents, however, convince
me that a great quantity of water rushed from this bay on the ebb of
the tide."

So the Spaniard failed to enter, and now the great English navigator
went on his way, convinced there was no River of the West; but Robert
Gray headed back south determined to find what lay behind the
tremendous crash of breakers and sand bar.  On the 7th of May, the
rowboat towed the _Columbia_ into what is now known as Gray's Harbor,
where he opened trade with the Indians, and was presently so boldly
overrun by them, that he was compelled to fire into their canoes,
killing seven.  Putting out from this harbor on the 10th, he steered
south, keeping close ashore, and was rewarded at four o'clock on the
morning of the 11th by hearing a tide-rip like thunder and seeing an
ocean of waters crashing sheer over sand bar and reef with a cataract
of foam in midair from the drive of colliding waves.  Milky waters
tinged the sea as of inland streams.  Gray had found the river, but
could he enter?  A gentle wind, straight as a die, was driving direct
ashore.  Gray waited till the tide seemed to lift or deepen the waters
of the reef, then at eight in the morning, all sails set like a bird on
wing, drove straight for the narrow entrance between reefs and sand.
Once across the bar, he saw the mouth of a magnificent river of fresh
water.  He had found the River of the West.

Gray describes the memorable event in these simple {237} words: "May
11th . . . at four A.M. saw the entrance of our desired port bearing
east-southeast, distance six leagues . . . at eight A.M. being a little
to windward of the entrance of the harbor, bore away, and ran in
east-southeast between the breakers. . . .  When we were over the bar,
we found this to be a large river of fresh water, up which we steered.
Many canoes came alongside.  At one P.M. came to (anchor). . . ."

[Illustration: A View of the Columbia River.]

By the 14th, Gray had ascended the river twenty or thirty miles from
the sea, but was compelled to turn, as he had taken a shallow channel.
Dropping down with the tide, he anchored on the 19th and went ashore,
where he planted coins under a tree, took {238} possession in the name
of the United States, and named the river "Columbia."  On the 20th, he
crossed the bar and was out again on the Pacific.  The most of men
would have rested, satisfied with half he had done.  Not so Gray.  He
headed the _Columbia_ north again for the summer's trade in what is now
known as southern Alaska.  Only damages to the _Columbia_ drove her
down to Nootka in July, where Don Quadra, the new Spanish commander,
and Captain Vancouver were in conference over those English ships
seized by Martinez.  To Quadra, Gray sold the little _Adventure_,
pioneer of American shipbuilding on the Pacific, for seventy-five otter
skins.  From Spanish sources it is learned Gray's cargo had over three
thousand otter skins, and fifteen thousand other peltries; so the
second voyage may have made up for the loss of the first.

[Illustration: At the Mouth of the Columbia River.]

On October 3 the _Columbia_ left America for China; and on July 29,
1793, came to the home harbor of Boston.  Sometime between 1806 and
1809, Gray died in South Carolina, a poor man.  It is doubtful if his
widow's petition to Congress ever materialized in a reward for any of
his descendants.  Kendrick, eclipsed by his brilliant assistant, was
accidentally killed in Hawaii by the wad of a gun fired by a British
vessel to salute the _Lady Washington_.  From the date 1793 or 1795 the
little sloop drops out of sea-faring annals.

What is Gray's place among pathfinders and naval {239} heroes?  Where
does his life's record leave him?  It was not spectacular work.  It was
not work backed by a government, like Bering's or Cook's.  It was the
work of an individual adventurer, like Radisson east of the Rockies.
Gray was a man who did much and said little.  He was not accompanied by
a host of scientists to herald his fame to the world.  Judged solely by
results, what did he accomplish?  The same for the United States that
Cook did for England.  He led the way for the American flag around the
world.  Measuring purely by distance, his ship's log would compare well
with Cook's or Vancouver's.  The same part of the Pacific coast which
they {240} explored, he explored, except that he did not go to northern
Alaska; and he compensated for that by discovering the great river,
which they both said had no existence.  And yet, who that knows of Cook
and Vancouver, knows as much of Gray?  Authentic histories are still
written that speak of Gray's discovery doubtfully.  Gray did much, but
said little; and the world is prone to take a man at his own valuation.
Yet if the world places Cook and Vancouver in the niches of naval
heroes, Gray must be placed between them.

There is a curious human side to the story of these glory seekers, too.
Bulfinch was so delighted over the discovery of the Columbia, that he
had his daughter christened "Columbia," to which the young lady
objected in later years, so that the name was dropped.  In
commemoration of Don Quadra's kindness in repairing the ship
_Columbia_, Gray named one of his children Quadra.  The curios brought
back by Ingraham on the first voyage were donated to Harvard.
Descendants of Gray still have the pictures drawn by Davidson and
Haswell on the second voyage.  The sea chest carried round the world by
Gray now rests in the keeping of an historical society in Portland; and
the feather cloak worn up the street by the boy Atto, when he marched
in the procession with Gray, is treasured in Boston.[1]

[1] Much concerning Gray's voyages can be found in the accounts of
contemporary navigators like Meares and Vancouver; but the essential
facts of the voyages are obtainable from the records of Gray's
log-book, and of diaries kept by his officers.  {241} Gray's log-book
itself seems to have passed into the hands of the Bulfinch family.
From a copy of the original, Thomas Bulfinch reprinted the exact entry
of the discovery on May 11, 1792, in his _Oregon and Eldorado, a
Romance of the Rivers_, Boston, 1866.  The log-book is now on file in
the Department of State, Washington; but that part from which Bulfinch
made his extract is missing; nor is it known where this section was
lost as it was in 1816 that Mr. Charles Bulfinch made a copy of this
section from the original.  Greenhow's _Oregon and California_, Boston,
1844, issued under the auspices of Congress, gives the log-book in full
from May 7th to May 21st.  Hubert Howe Bancroft in his _Northwest
Coast_, Volume I, 1890, reproduces the diary in full of Haswell for
both voyages.  It is from Haswell that the fullest account of the
Indian plots are obtained; but at the time of the discovery of the
Columbia, Haswell was on the little sloop _Adventure_, and what he
reports is from hearsay.  His words in the entry of June 14 are; "They
(the _Columbia_) had very disagreeable weather but . . . good success.
. .  They discovered a harbor in latitude 46 degrees 53 minutes north.
. . .  This is Gray's Harbor.  Here they were attacked by the natives,
and the savages had a considerable slaughter made among them.  They
next entered Columbia River, and went up it about thirty miles, and
doubted not it was navigable upwards of a hundred miles. . . .  The
ship (_Columbia_) during the cruise had collected upwards of seven
hundred sea-otter skins and fifteen thousand skins of other species."
The pictures made by Davidson, the artist, on the second voyage, owned
by collectors in Boston, tell their own story.  From all these sources,
and from the descendants of Gray, the Rev. Edward G. Porter collected
data for his lecture before the Massachusetts Historical Society,
afterward published in the _New England Magazine_ of June, 1892.  The
_Massachusetts Historical Proceedings_ for 1892 have, by all odds, the
most complete collection of data bearing on Gray.  The archives include
the medal and three of Davidson's drawings, also papers relating to the
_Columbia_ presented by Barrell.  The Salem Institute has also some
data on the ships.  The _Massachusetts Proceedings_ for 1869-1870 also
give, from the Archives of California, the letter of Governor Don Pedro
Fages of Santa Barbara to Don Josef Arguello of San Francisco, warning
the latter against the American navigators.  Greenhow obtained from the
Hydrographical Office at Madrid the report of Captain Bruno Heceta's
voyage in 1775, when he sighted the mouth of a river supposed to be the





A New England Ne'er-do-well, turned from the Door of Rich Relatives,
joins Cook's Expedition to America--Adventure among the Russians of
Oonalaska--Useless Endeavor to interest New England Merchants in Fur
Trade--A Soldier of Fortune in Paris, he meets Jefferson and Paul Jones
and outlines Exploration of Western America--Succeeds in crossing
Siberia alone on the Way to America, but is thwarted by Russian Fur

When his relatives banged the door in his face, turning him destitute
in the streets of London, if John Ledyard could have foreseen that the
act would indirectly lead to the Lewis and Clark exploration of the
great region between the Mississippi and the Pacific, he would
doubtless have regarded the unkindness as Dick Whittington did the cat,
that led on to fortune.  He had been a dreamer from the time he was
born in Groton, opposite New London, Connecticut--the kind of a dreamer
whose moonshine lights the path of other men to success; but his
wildest dreams never dared the bigness of an empire many times greater
than the original states of the Union.

{243} Instead he had landed at Plymouth, ragged, not a farthing in the
bottom of his pockets, not a farthing's possession on earth but his
hopes.  Those hopes were to reach rich relatives in London, who might
give him a lift to the first rung of the world's climbers.  He was
twenty-five years old.  He had burned his ships behind him.  That is,
he had disappointed all his relatives in America so thoroughly that he
could never again turn for help to the home hands.

They had designed him for a profession, these New England friends.  If
Nature had designed him for the same thing, it would have been all
right; but she hadn't.  The son of a widowed mother, the love of the
sea, of pathless places, of what is just out of sight over the dip of
the horizon, was in his blood from his father's side.  Friends thought
he should be well satisfied when he was sent to live with his
grandfather at Hartford and apprenticed to the law; but John Ledyard
hated the pettifogging of the law, hated roofed-over, walled-in life,
wanted the kind of life where men do things, not just dicker, and
philosophize, and compromise over the fag-ends of things other men have
done.  At twenty-one years of age, without any of the prospects that
lure the prudent soul, he threw over all idea of law.[1]

Friends were aghast.  Manifestly, the boy had {244} brains.  He
devoured information, absorbed facts like an encyclopaedia, and
observed everything.  The Greek Testament and Ovid were his companions;
yet he rebelled at the immured existence of the scholar.  At that time
(1772), Dartmouth was the rendezvous of {245} missionaries to the
Indians.  The college itself held lectures to the singing of the winds
through the forests around it.  The blowing of a conch-shell called to
lessons; and a sort of wildwood piety pervaded the atmosphere.  Urged
by his mother, Ledyard made one more honest attempt to fit his life to
a stereotyped form, and came to study at Dartmouth for the missionary's

It was not a success.  When he thought to get a foretaste of the
missionary vocation by making a dugout and floating down the whole
length of Connecticut River, one hundred and forty miles, the scholarly
professors were shocked.  And when he disappeared for four months to
make a farther test by living among the Mohawks, the faculty was
furious.  His friends gave him up as hopeless, a ne'er-do-well; and
Ledyard gave over the farce of trying to live according to other men's

[Illustration: Ledyard in his dugout, from a contemporaneous print.]

What now determined him was what directs the most of lives--need for
bread and butter.  He became a common sailor on the ship of a friend in
New London, and at twenty-five landed in Plymouth, light of heart as he
was light of purse.  The world was an oyster to be opened by his own
free lance; and up he tramped from Plymouth to London in company with
an Irishman penniless as himself, gay as a lark, to the world's great
capital with the world's great prizes for those with the wits to win
them.  A carriage with driver {246} and footman in livery wearing the
armorial design of his own Ledyard ancestors rolled past in the street.
He ran to the coachman, asked the address, and presented himself at the
door of the ancestral Ledyards, hope beating high.  The relationship
was to be the key to open all doors.  And the door of the ancestral
Ledyards was shut in his face.  The father was out.  The son put no
stock in the story of the ragged stranger.  He did not even know that
Ledyards existed in America.  What was to hinder any common tramp
trumping up such a story?  Where were the tattered fellow's proofs?
Ledyard came away with just enough wholesome human rage to keep him
from sinking to despair, or to what is more unmanning, self-pity.  He
had failed before, through trying to frame his life to other men's
plans.  He had failed now, through trying to win success through other
men's efforts--a barnacle clinging to the hull of some craft freighted
with fortune.  Perhaps, too, he fairly and squarely faced the fact that
if he was to be one whit different from the beggar for whom he had been
mistaken, he must build his own life solely and wholly on his own

On he wandered, the roar of the great city's activities rolling past
him in a tide.  His rage had time to cool.  Afternoon, twilight, dark;
and still the tide rolled past him; _past him_ because like a stranded
hull rotting for lack of use, he had put himself _outside_ the tide of
human effort.  He must build up his own career.  That was the fact he
had wrested out of his {247} rage; but unless his abilities were to rot
in some stagnant pool, he must launch out on the great tide of human
work.  Before he had taken that resolution, the roar of the city had
been terrifying--a tide that might swamp.  Now, the thunder of the
world's traffic was a shout of triumph.  He would launch out, let the
tide carry him where it might.

All London was resounding with the project of Cook's third voyage round
the world--the voyage that was to settle forever how far America
projected into the Pacific.  Recruits were being mustered for the
voyage.  It came to Ledyard in an inspiration--the new field for his
efforts, the call of the sea that paved a golden path around the world,
the freedom for shoulder-swing to do all that a man was worth.  Quick
as flash, he was off--going _with_ the tide now, not a derelict, not a
stranded hull--off to shave, and wash, and respectable-ize, in order to
apply as a recruit with Cook.

In the dark, somewhere near the sailors' mean lodgings, a hand touched
him.  He turned; it was the rich man's son, come profuse of apologies:
his father had returned; father and son begged to proffer both
financial aid and hospitality--Ledyard cut him short with a terse but
forcible invitation to go his own way.  That the unknown colonial at
once received a berth with Cook as corporal of marines, when half the
young men of England with influence to back their applications were
eager to join the voyage, speaks well for the sincerity of the new

{248} Cook left England in midsummer of 1776.  He sighted the Pacific
coast, northward of what is now San Francisco, in the spring of 1778.
Ledyard was the first American to see the land that lay beyond the
Rockies.  It was not a narrow strip as men had thought, but a broad
belt a thousand miles long by a thousand broad, an unclaimed world; for
storms drove Cook offshore here; and the English discoverer did not
land till abreast of British America.

At Nootka thousands of Indians flocked round the two vessels to trade.
For some trinkets of glass beads and iron, Ledyard obtained one
thousand five hundred skins for Cook.  Among the Indians, too, he saw
brass trinkets, that must have come all the way from New Spain on the
south, or from the Hudson's Bay Fur Company on the east.  What were the
merchants of New York and Philadelphia doing, that their ships were not
here reaping a harvest of wealth in furs?  If this were the outermost
bound of Louisiana, Louisiana might some day be a part of the colonies
now struggling for their liberties; and Ledyard's imagination took one
of those leaps that win a man the reputation of a fool among his
contemporaries, a hero to future generations.  "If it was necessary
that a European should discover the existence of the continent," he
afterward wrote, "in the name of Amor Patriae let a native explore its
resources and boundaries. . .  It is my wish to be the man."

Cook's ships passed north to Oonalaska.  Only {249} twenty-five years
before, the Indians of Oonalaska had massacred every white settlement
on the island.  Cook wished to send a message to the Russian fur
traders.  Not many men could be risked from the ship.  Fired with the
ambition to know more of the coast which he had determined to explore,
Ledyard volunteered to go for the Russians with two Indian guides.  The
pace was set at an ambling run over rocks that had cut Ledyard's boots
to tatters before nightfall.  He was quite unarmed; and just at dark
the way seemed to end at a sandy shore, where the waves were already
chopping over on the rising tide, and spiral columns of smoke betrayed
the underground mud huts of those very Indian villages that had
massacred the Russians a quarter of a century before.  The guides had
dived somewhere underground and, while Ledyard stood nonplussed, came
running back carrying a light skin boat which they launched.  It was
made of oiled walrus hide stretched like a drum completely round
whalebones, except for two manholes in the top for the rowers.
Perpheela, the guide, signalled Ledyard to embark; and before the white
man could solve the problem of how three men were to sit in two
manholes, he was seized head and heels, and bundled clear through a
manhole, lying full length imprisoned like Jonah in the whale.  Then
the swish of dipping paddles, of the cold waves above and beneath, shut
out by parchment thin as tissue paper, told Ledyard that he was being
carried out to sea, spite of dark and storm, {250} in a craft light as
an air-blown bladder, that bounced forward, through, under, over the
waves, undrownable as a fish.

There was nothing to do but lie still.  The slightest motion might have
ruptured the thin skin keel.  On he was borne through the dark, the
first American in history to travel by a submarine.  At the end of what
seemed ages--it could not have been more than two hours--after a deal
of bouncing to the rising storm with no sound but the whistling of wind
and rush of mountain seas, the keel suddenly grated pebbles.  Starlight
came through the vacated manholes; but before Ledyard could jump out,
the boat was hoisted on the shoulders of four men, and carried on a run
overland.  The creak of a door slammed open.  A bump as the boat dumped
down to soft floor; and Ledyard was dazzled by a glare of light to find
himself in the mess room of the Russian barracks on Captain Harbor, in
the presence of two bearded Russian hunters gasping speechless with
surprise to see a man emerging from the manhole like a newly hatched
chicken from an egg.

Fur rugs covered the floor, the walls, the benches, the berth beds
lining the sides of the barnlike Russian barracks.  The windows were of
oiled bladder skin; the lamps, whale-oil in stone basins with skin for
wick.  Arms were stacked in the corner.  The two Russians had been
sitting down to a supper of boiled salmon, when Ledyard made his
unannounced {251} entrance.  By signs he explained that Captain Cook's
ships were at a near harbor and that the English commander desired to
confer with Ismyloff, chief factor of the Russians.  Rising, kissing
their hands ceremoniously as they mentioned the august name and taking
off their fur caps, the Russians made solemn answer that all these
parts, with a circumambient wave, belonged to the Empress of Russia;
that they were her subjects--with more kissing of the hands.  Russia
did not want foreigners spying on her hunting-grounds.  Nevertheless,
Ledyard was given a present of fresh Chinese silk underwear, treated to
the hottest Russian brandy in the barracks, and put comfortably to bed
on a couch of otter skins.  From his bed, he saw the Indians crowd in
for evening services before a little Russian crucifix, the two traders
leading prayers.  These were the tribes, whom the Russians had hunted
with dogs fifty years before; and who in turn had slain all Russians on
the Island.  A better understanding now prevailed.

In the morning Ledyard looked over the fur establishment; galliots,
cannon-mounted in the harbor for refuge in case of attack; the huge
lemon-yellow, red-roofed store-room that might serve as barracks or
fort for a hundred men; the brigades of eight, of nine, of eleven
hundred Indian hunters sailing the surfs under the leadership of
Ismyloff, the chief factor.  Oonalaska was the very centre of the
sea-otter hunt.  Here, eighteen thousand otter a year were taken.  At
once, {252} Ledyard realized how he could pay the cost of exploring
that unclaimed world between New Spain and Alaska: by turning fur
trader as Radisson, and La Salle, and the other explorers had done.

Ismyloff himself, who had been out with his brigade when Ledyard came,
went to visit the Englishman; but Ismyloff had little to say, little of
Benyowsky, the Polish pirate, who had marooned him; less of Alaska; and
the reason for taciturnity was plain.  The Russian fur traders were
forming a monopoly.  They told no secrets to the world.  They wanted no
intruders on their hunting-ground.  Could Ledyard have known that the
surly, bearded Russian was to blast his new-born ambitions; could
Ismyloff have guessed that the eager, young, beardless corporal of
marines was indirectly to be the means of wresting the Pacific coast
from Russia--each might have smiled at the tricks of destiny.

Ledyard had two more years to serve in the British navy when he
returned from Cook's voyage.  By another trick of destiny he was sent
out on a battle ship to fight against his native country in the
Revolutionary War.  It was a time when men wore patriotic coats of many
colors.  His ship lay at anchor off Long Island.  He had not seen his
mother for seven years, but knew that the war had reduced her to
opening a lodging house for British officers.  Asking for a week's
furlough, Ledyard went ashore, proceeded to his mother's {253} house,
knocked at the door, and was taken as a lodger by her without being
recognized, which was, perhaps, as well; for the house was full of
British spies.  Ledyard waited till night.  Then he went to her private
apartments and found her reading with the broad-rimmed, horn-framed
spectacles of those days.  He took her hands.  "Look at me," he said.
One glance was enough.  Then he shut the door; and the door remains
shut to the world on what happened there.

That was the end of British soldiering for Ledyard.  He never returned
to the marines.  He betook himself to Hartford, where he wrote an
account of Cook's voyage.  Then he set himself to move heaven and earth
for a ship to explore that unknown coast from New Spain to Alaska.
This was ten years before Robert Gray of Boston had discovered the
Columbia; twenty years before the United States thought of buying
Louisiana, twenty-five years before Lewis and Clark reached the
Pacific.  Many influences worked against him.  Times were troublous.
The country had not recovered sufficiently from the throes of the
Revolution to think of expanding territory.  Individually and
collectively, the nation was desperately poor.  As for private sailing
masters, they smiled at Ledyard's enthusiasm.  An unclaimed world?
What did they care?  Where was the money in a venture to the Pacific?
When Ledyard told how Russia was reaping a yearly harvest of millions
in furs, even his old friend, Captain Deshon, whose boat had {254}
carried him to Plymouth, grew chary of such roseate prospects.  It was
characteristic of Ledyard that the harder the difficulties proved, the
harder grew his determination to overcome.  He was up against the
impossible, and instead of desisting, gritted his teeth, determined to
smash a breach through the wall of the impossible, or smash himself
trying.  For six months he besieged leading men in New York and
Philadelphia, outlining his plans, meeting arguments, giving proofs for
all he said of Pacific wealth, holding conference after conference.
Robert Morris entered enthusiastically into the scheme; but what with
shipmasters' reluctance to embark on such a dangerous voyage and the
general scarcity of funds, the patience of both Ledyard and Morris
became exhausted.  Ledyard's savings had meanwhile dwindled down to

In Europe, Cook's voyage was beginning to create a stir.  The Russian
government had projected an expedition to the Pacific under Joseph
Billings, Cook's assistant astronomer.  These Russian plans aimed at no
less than dominance on the Pacific.  Forts were to be built in
California and Hawaii.  In England and India, private adventurers,
Portlock, Dixon, Meares, Barclay, were fitting out ships for Pacific
trade.  Some one advised Ledyard to attempt his venture in the country
that had helped America in the Revolution, France; and to France he
sailed with money loaned by Mr. Sands of New York, in 1784.

{255} In Paris Ledyard met two of the most remarkable men in American
history, Paul Jones, the naval hero, and Jefferson.  To them both he
told the marvels of Pacific wealth, and both were far-sighted enough to
share his dreams.  It was now that Jefferson began to formulate those
plans that Lewis and Clark afterward carried out.  The season was too
late for a voyage this year, but Paul Jones loaned Ledyard money and
arranged to take out a ship of four hundred tons the following year.
The two actually went over every detail together.  Jones was to carry
the furs to China, Ledyard with assistants, surgeon, and twenty
soldiers to remain at the fur post and explore.

But Paul Jones was counting on the support of the American government;
and when he found that the government considered Ledyard's promises
visionary, he threw the venture over in a pique.

Was Ledyard beaten?  Jefferson and he talked over the project day after
day.  Ledyard was willing to tramp it across the two Siberias on foot,
and to chance over the Pacific Ocean in a Russian fur-trading vessel,
if Jefferson could obtain permission from the Russian Empress.
Meanwhile, true soldier of fortune, without money, or influence, he
lived on terms of intimacy with the fashion of Paris.

"I have but five French crowns," he wrote a friend.  "The Fitzhughes
(fellow-roomers) haven't money for tobacco.  Such a set of moneyless
rascals never {256} appeared since the days of Falstaff."  Again--"Sir
James Hall, on his way from Paris to Cherbourg, stopped his coach at
our door.  I was in bed, but having flung on my robe de chambre, met
him at the door. . . .  In walking across the chamber, he laughingly
put his hand on a six livre piece and a louis d'or on my table, and
with a blush asked me how I was in the money way.  Blushes beget
blushes.  'If fifteen guineas,' said he, 'will be of any service to
you, here they are.  You have my address in London.'"

While waiting the passports from the Empress of Russia, he was invited
by Sir James Hall to try his luck in England.  The very daring of the
wild attempt to cross Siberia and America alone appealed to the
English.  Half a dozen men, friends of Cook, took the venture up, and
Ledyard found himself in the odd position of being offered a boat by
the country whose navy he had deserted.  Perhaps because of that
desertion all news of the project was kept very quiet.  A small ship
had slipped down the Thames for equipments, when the government got
wind of it.  Whether the great Hudson's Bay Company of England opposed
the expedition as intrusion on its fur preserve, or the English
government objected to an American conducting the exploration for the
expansion of American territory, the ship was ordered back, and Ledyard
was in no position to confront the English authorities.  Again he was
checkmated, and fell back on Jefferson's plan to cross the two Siberias
on foot, and chance it over {257} the Pacific.  His friends in London
gathered enough money to pay his way to St. Petersburg.

January of 1787 saw him in Sweden seeking passage across the Baltic.
Usually the trip to St. Petersburg was made by dog sleighs across the
ice.  This year the season had been so open, neither boats nor dog
trains could be hired to make the trip.  Ledyard was now thirty-six
years old, and the sum of his efforts totalled to a zero.  The first
twenty-five years of his life he had wasted trying to fit his life to
other men's patterns.  The last five years he had wasted waiting for
other men to act, men in New York, in Philadelphia, in Paris, in
London, to give him a ship.  He had done with waiting, with dependence
on others.  When boats and dog trains failed him now, he muffled
himself in wolfskins to his neck, flung a knapsack on his back, and set
out in midwinter to tramp overland six hundred miles north to Tornea at
the head of the Baltic, six hundred miles south from Tornea, through
Finland to St. Petersburg.  Snow fell continually.  Storms raged in
from the sea.  The little villages of northern Sweden and Finland were
buried in snow to the chimney-tops.  Wherever he happened to be at
nightfall, he knocked at the door of a fisherman's hut.  Wherever he
was taken in, he slept, whether on the bare floor before the hearth, or
among the dogs of the outhouses, or in the hay-lofts of the cattle
sheds.  No more waiting for Ledyard!  Storm or shine, early and late,
he {258} tramped two hundred miles a week for seven weeks from the time
he left Stockholm.  When he marched into St. Petersburg on the 19th of
March, men hardly knew whether to regard him as a madman or a wonder.
Using the names of Jefferson and Lafayette, he jogged up the Russian
authorities by another application for the passport.  The passport was
long in coming.  How was Ledyard to know that Ismyloff, the Russian fur
trader, whom he had met in Oonalaska, had written letters stirring up
the Russian government to jealous resentment against all comers to the
Pacific?  Ledyard was mad with impatience.  Days slipped into weeks,
weeks into months, and no passport came.  He was out of clothes, out of
money, out of food.  A draft on his English friends kept him from
destitution.  Just a year before, Billings, the astronomer of Cook's
vessel, had gone across Siberia on the way to America for the Russian
government.  If Ledyard could only catch up to Billings's expedition,
that might be a chance to cross the Pacific.  As if to exasperate his
impatience still more, he met a Scotch physician, a Dr.  William Brown,
now setting out for Siberia on imperial business, who offered to carry
him along free for three thousand of the seven thousand miles to the
Pacific.  Perhaps the proceeds of that English draft helped him with
the slow Russian authorities, but at last, on June 1, he had his
passport, and was off with Dr. Brown.  His entire earthly possessions
at this time consisted of a few guineas, a suit of {259} clothes, and
large debts.  What was the crack-brained enthusiast aiming at anyway?
An empire half the present size of the United States.

From St. Petersburg to Moscow in six days, drawn by three horses at
breakneck pace, from Moscow to Kazan through the endless forests, on to
the Volga, Brown and Ledyard hastened.  By the autumn they were across
the Barbary Desert, three thousand miles from St. Petersburg.  Here
Brown remained, and Ledyard went on with the Cossack mail carriers.
All along the endless trail of two continents, the trail of East and
West, he passed the caravans of the Russian fur traders, and learned
the astonishing news that more than two thousand Russians were on the
west coast of America.  Down the Lena next, to Yakutsk, the great
rendezvous of the fur traders, only one thousand miles more to the
Pacific; and on the great plain of the fur traders near Yakutsk he at
last overtook the Billings explorers on their way to America.  Only one
guinea was left in his pocket, and the Cossack commandant reported that
the season was too far advanced for him to cross the Pacific.  What did
it matter?  He would cross the Pacific with Billings in spring.  He was
nearer the realization of his hopes than ever before in his life; and
surely his success in tramping twice the length of Sweden, and in
crossing two continents when almost destitute augured well for his
success in crossing from the Pacific to the Missouri.

Not for a moment was his almost childlike confidence {260} disturbed by
a suspicion of bad faith, of intentional delay in issuing the
passports, of excuses to hold him back at Yakutsk till the jealous fur
traders could send secret complaints to St. Petersburg.  Much less was
he suspicious when Billings, his old friend of Cook's voyage, himself
arrived, and invited him on a sled journey of exploration up the Lena
while waiting.[2]

On sledges he went up the Lena River with a party of explorers.  On the
night of February 24 two or three of the officers and Ledyard were
sitting in the mess room of Irkutsk playing cards.  They might laugh
_at_ Ledyard.  They also laughed _with_ him.  Wherever he went, went
gayety.  Gales of boisterous laughter were on the wind.  Hopes as
tenuous as the wind were in the air.  One of the great Bering's sons
was there, no doubt telling tales of discovery that set each man's
veins jumping.  Suddenly a tremendous jingling of bells announced some
midnight arrival post-haste at the barracks' door.  Before the card
players had risen from their places, two Cossacks had burst into the
room stamping snow from their feet.  Marching straight over to Ledyard,
they seized him roughly by the arms and arrested him for a French spy,
displaying the Empress's written orders, brought all the way from St.
Petersburg.  To say that Ledyard was dumfounded is putting it mildly.
Every man in the room knew that he was not a French spy.  Every man
{261} in the room knew that the arrest was a farce, instigated by the
jealous fur traders whom Ismyloff's lying letters had aroused.  For
just a second Ledyard lost his head and called on Billings as a man of
honor to confute the charge.  However Ledyard might lose his head,
Billings was not willing to lose his.  He advised Ledyard not to
provoke conflict with the Russian authorities, but to go back to St.
Petersburg and disprove the charge.  Was it a case of one explorer
being jealous of another, or had Billings played Ledyard into the fur
traders' trap?  That will never be known.  Certain it is, Billings made
mess enough of his own expedition to go down to posterity as a failure.
Some of the officers ran to get Ledyard a present of clothes and money.
As he jumped into the waiting sledge and looked back over his shoulder
at the group of faces smiling in the lighted doorway, he burst into a
laugh, but it was the laugh of an embittered man, whose life had
crumbled to ruin at one blow.  The Cossacks whipped up the horses, and
he was off on the long trail back, five thousand miles, every mile a
sign post of blasted hopes.  Without a word of explanation or the
semblance of a trial on the false charge, he was banished out of St.
Petersburg on pain of death if he returned.

Ragged, destitute, the best years of his life gone, he reached London,
heartbroken.  "I give up," he told the English friends, who had backed
him with money, and what was better than money--faith.  "I give up,"
{262} he wrote Jefferson, who afterward had Lewis and Clark carry out
Ledyard's plans.

The men of the African Geographical Society in London tried to cheer
him.  When could he set out to explore the source of the Nile for them?

"To-morrow," answered Ledyard, with the heedlessness of one who has
lost grip on life.  The salary advanced paid off the moss-grown debts
of his disappointed past, but he never reached the scene of his new
venture.  He died on the way at Cairo, in November, 1788, for all hope
had already died in his heart.  The world that has entered into the
heritage of his aims has forgotten Ledyard; for the public acclaims
only the heroes of success, and he was a hero of defeat.  All that
Lewis and Clark succeeded in doing for the West, backed by the prestige
of government, Ledyard, the penniless soldier of fortune, had foreseen
and planned with Jefferson in the attic apartments of Paris.[3]

[1] The world owes all knowledge of Ledyard's intimate life to Jared
Sparks, who compiled his life of Ledyard from journals and
correspondence collected by Dr. Ledyard and Henry Seymour of Hartford.

[2] In Sauer's account of the Billings Expedition, some excuse is given
for the conduct of Billings on the ground that Ledyard had been
insolent to the Russians.

[3] Ledyard's _Journal of Cook's Last Voyage_, Hartford, 1783, and
Sparks's _Life of Ledyard_, Cambridge, 1829.





Activities of Americans, Spanish, and Russians on the West Coast
of America arouse England--Vancouver is sent out ostensibly to
settle the Quarrel between Fur Traders and Spanish Governors at
Nootka--Incidentally, he is to complete the Exploration of America's
West Coast and take Possession for England of Unclaimed Territory--The
Myth of a Northeast Passage dispelled forever

With Gray's entrance of the Columbia, the great drama of discovery on
the northwest coast of America was drawing to a close.

After the death of Bering on the Commander Islands, and of Cook at
Hawaii, while on voyages to prove there was no Northeast Passage, no
open waterway between Pacific and Atlantic, it seems impossible that
the myth of an open sea from Asia to Europe could still delude men; but
it was in hunting for China that Columbus found America; and it was in
hunting for a something that had no existence except in the foolish
theories of the schoolmen that the whole northwest coast of America was

{264} Bering had been called "coward" for not sailing through a solid
continent.  Cook was accused of fur trading, "pottering in peltries,"
to the neglect of discovery, because his crews sold their sea-otter at
profit.  To be sure, the combined results of Bering's and Cook's
voyages proved there was no waterway through Alaska to the Atlantic;
but in addition to blackening the reputations of the two great
navigators in order to throw discredit on their conclusions, the
schoolmen bellicosely demanded--Might there not be a passage south of
Alaska, between Russia's claim on the north and Spain's on the south?
Both Bering and Cook had been driven out from this section of the coast
by gales.  This left a thousand miles of American coast unexplored.
Cook had said there were no Straits of Fuca, of which the old Greek
pilot in the service of New Spain had told legends of fictitious
voyages two centuries before; yet Barclay, an East India English
trader, had been up those very straits.  So had Meares, another trader.
So had Kendrick and Gray, the two Americans.  This was the very section
which Bering and Cook had left untouched; and who could tell where
these straits might lead?  They were like a second Mediterranean.
Meares argued they might connect with Hudson Bay.

Then Spain had forced matters to a climax by seizing Meares's vessels
and fort at Nootka as contraband.  That had only one meaning: Spain was
trying to lay hands on everything from New Spain to Russian {265}
territory on the north.  If Spain claimed all north to the Straits of
Fuca, and Russia claimed all south to the Straits of Fuca, where was
England's claim of New Albion discovered by Sir Francis Drake, and of
all that coast which Cook had sighted round Nootka?

Captain George Vancouver, formerly midshipman with Cook, was summoned
post-haste by the British Admiralty.  Ostensibly, his mission was to
receive back at Nootka all the lands which the Spaniards had taken from
Meares, the trader.  Really, he was to explore the coast from New Spain
on the south, to Russian America on the north, and to hold that coast
for England.  That Spain had already explored the islands of this coast
was a mere detail.  There remained the continental shore still to be
explored.  Besides, Spain had not followed up her explorations by
possession.  She had kept her navigations secret.  In many cases her
navigators had not even landed.

[Illustration: Captain George Vancouver.]

Vancouver was still in his prime, under forty.  Serving in the navy
from boyhood, he had all a practical seaman's contempt for theories.
This contempt was given point by the world's attitude toward Cook.
Vancouver had been on the spot with Cook.  He knew there was no
Northeast Passage.  Cook had proved that.  Yet the world refused

For the practical navigator there remained only one course, and that
course became the one aim, the consuming ambition of Vancouver's
life--to destroy the {266} last vestige of the myth of a Northeast
Passage; to explore the northwest coast of America so thoroughly there
would not remain a single unknown inlet that could be used as a
possible prop for the schoolmen's theories, to penetrate every inlet
from California to Alaska--mainland and island; to demonstrate that not
one possible opening led to the Atlantic.  This was to be the object of
Vancouver's life, and he carried it out with a thoroughness that left
nothing for subsequent explorers to do; but he died before the record
of his voyages had been given to the world.

The two ships, _Discovery_ and _Chatham_, with a supply ship, the
_Daedalus_, to follow later, were fitted out for long and thorough
work.  Vancouver's vessel, the _Discovery_, carried twenty guns with a
crew of a hundred men.  The tender, _Chatham_, under Broughton, had ten
guns and forty-five men.  With Vancouver went Menzies, and Puget, and
Baker, and Johnstone--names that were to become place marks on the
Pacific.  The _Discovery_ and _Chatham_ left England in the spring of
1791.  A year later found them cutting the waves from Hawaii for
America, the New Albion of Drake's discovery, forgotten by England
until Spain's activity stimulated memory of the pirate voyage.

A swashing swell met the ships as they neared America.  Phosphorescent
lights blue as sulphur flame slimed the sea in a trail of rippling
fire; and a land bird, washed out by the waves, told of New Albion's
shore.  {267} For the first two weeks of April, the _Discovery_ and
_Chatham_ had driven under cloud of sail and sunny skies; but on the
16th, just when the white fret of reefs ahead forewarned land, heavy
weather settled over the ships.  To the fore, bare, majestic, compact
as a wall, the coast of New Albion towered out of the surf near
Mendocino.  Cheers went up from the lookout for the landfall of Francis
Drake's discovery.  Then torrents of rain washed out surf and shore.
The hurricane gales, that had driven all other navigators out to sea
from this coast, now lashed Vancouver.  Such smashing seas swept over
decks, that masts, sails, railings, were wrenched away.

Was it ill-luck or destiny, that caught Vancouver in this gale?  If he
had not been driven offshore here, he might have been just two weeks
before Gray on the _Columbia_, and made good England's claim of all
territory between New Spain and Alaska.  When the weather cleared on
April 27, the ocean was turgid, plainly tinged river-color by inland
waters; but ground swell of storm and tide rolled across the shelving
sandbars.  Not a notch nor an opening breached through the flaw of the
horizon from the ocean to the source of the shallow green.  Vancouver
was too far offshore to see that there really was a break in the surf
wash.  He thought--and thought rightly--this was the place where the
trader, Meares, had hoped to find the great River of the West, only to
be disappointed and to name the point Cape Disappointment.  Vancouver
was {268} not to be fooled by any such fanciful theories.  "Not
considering this opening worthy of more attention," he writes, "I
continued to the northwest."  He had missed the greatest honor that yet
remained for any discoverer on the Pacific.  Within two weeks Gray, the
American, heading back to these baffling tides with a dogged
persistence that won its own glory, was to succeed in passing the
breakers and discovering the Columbia.  As the calm permitted approach
to the shore again, forests appeared through the haze--that soft,
velvet, caressing haze of the dreamy, lazily swelling Pacific--forests
of fir and spruce and pine and cypress, in all the riot of dank spring
growth, a dense tangle of windfall and underbrush and great vines
below, festooned with the light green stringy mosses of cloud line
overhead and almost impervious to sunlight.  Myriad wild fowl covered
the sea.  The coast became beetling precipice, that rolled inland
forest-clad to mountains jagging ragged peaks through the clouds.  This
was the Olympus Range, first noticed by Meares, and to-day seen for
miles out at sea like a ridge of opalescent domes suspended in

Vancouver was gliding into the Straits of Fuca when the slender colors
of a far ship floated above the blue horizon outward bound.  Another
wave-roll, and the flag was seen to be above full-blown sails and a
square-hulled, trim little trader of America.  At six in the morning of
April 29, the American saluted with a {269} cannon-shot.  Vancouver
answered with a charge from his decks, rightly guessing this was Robert
Gray on the _Columbia_.

[Illustration: The _Columbia_ in a Squall.]

Puget and Menzies were sent to inquire about Gray's cruise.  They
brought back word that Gray had been fifty miles up the Straits of
Fuca; and--most astounding to Vancouver's ambitions--that the American
had been off the mouth of a river south of the straits at 46 degrees 10
minutes, where the tide prevented entrance for nine days.  "The river
Mr. Gray mentioned," says Vancouver, "should be south of Cape
Disappointment.  This we passed on the forenoon of the 27th; and if any
inlet or river be found, it must be a {270} very intricate one,
inaccessible . . . owing to reefs and broken water. . . .  I was
thoroughly convinced, as were most persons on board, that we could not
possibly have passed any cape . . . from Mendocino to Classet

Keen to prove that no Northeast Passage existed by way of the Straits
of Fuca, Vancouver headed inland, close to the south shore, where
craggy heights offered some guidance through the labyrinth of islands
and fog.  Eight miles inside the straits he anchored for the night.
The next morning the sun rose over one of the fairest scenes of the
Pacific coast--an arm of the sea placid as a lake, gemmed by countless
craggy islands.  On the land side were the forested valleys rolling in
to the purple folds of the mountains; and beyond, eastward, dazzling as
a huge shield of fire in the sunrise, a white mass whiter than the
whitest clouds, swimming aerially in mid-heaven.  Lieutenant Baker was
the first to catch a glimpse of the vision for which every western
traveller now watches, the famous peak seen by land or sea for hundreds
of miles, the playground of the jagged green lightnings on the hot
summer nights; and the peak was named after him.--Mount Baker.

For the first time in history white men's boats plied the waters of the
great inland sea now variously known as Admiralty Inlet, Puget Sound,
Hood Canal.  There must be no myth of a Northeast Passage left lurking
in any of the many inlets of this spider-shaped sea.  {271} Vancouver,
Menzies, Puget, and Johnstone set out in the small boats to penetrate
every trace of water passage.  Instead of leading northeast, the
tangled maze of forest-hidden channels meandered southward.  Savages
swarmed over the water, paddling round and round the white men, for all
the world like birds of prey circling for a chance to swoop at the
first unguarded moment.  Tying trinkets to pieces of wood, Puget let
the gifts float back as peace-offerings to woo good will.  The effect
was what softness always is to an Indian spoiling for a fight, an
incentive to boldness.  When Puget landed for noon meal, a score of
redskins lined up ashore and began stringing their bows for action.
Puget drew a line along the sand with his cutlass and signalled the
warriors to keep back.  They scrambled out of his reach with a great
clatter.  It only needed some fellow bolder than the rest to push
across the line, and massacre would begin.  Puget did not wait.  By way
of putting the fear of the Lord and respect for the white man in the
heart of the Indian, he trained the swivel of the small boat landward,
and fired in midair.  The result was instant.  Weapons were dropped.
On Monday, midday, June 4, Vancouver and Broughton landed at Point
Possession.  Officers drew up in line.  The English flag was unfurled,
a royal salute fired, and possession taken of all the coast of New
Albion from latitude 39 to the Straits of Fuca, which Vancouver named
Gulf of Georgia.  Just a month before, Gray, the American, had preceded
this act of {272} possession by a similar ceremony for the United
States on the banks of the Columbia.

The sum total of Vancouver's work so far had been the exploration of
Puget Sound, which is to the West what the Gulf of St. Lawrence is to
the East.  For Puget Sound and its allied waters he had done exactly
what Carrier accomplished for the Atlantic side of America.  His next
step was to learn if the Straits of Fuca leading northward penetrated
America and came out on the Atlantic side.  That is what the old Greek
pilot in the service of New Spain, Juan de Fuca, had said some few
years after Drake and Cavendish had been out on the coast of California.

Though Vancouver explored the Pacific coast more thoroughly than all
the other navigators who had preceded him,--so thoroughly, indeed, that
nothing was left to be done by the explorers who came after him, and
modern surveys have been unable to improve upon his charts,--it seemed
his ill-luck to miss by just a hair's breadth the prizes he coveted.
He had missed the discovery of the Columbia.  He was now to miss the
second largest river of the Northwest, the Fraser.  He had hoped to be
the first to round the Straits of Fuca, disproving the assumption that
they led to the Atlantic; and he came on the spot only to learn that
the two English traders, Meares and Barclay, the two Americans,
Kendrick and Gray, and two Spaniards, Don Galiano and Don Valdes, had
already proved {273} practically that this part of the coast was a
large island, and the Straits of Fuca an arm of the Pacific Ocean.

Fifty Indians, in the long dugouts, of grotesquely carved prows and
gaudy paint common among Pacific tribes, escorted Vancouver's boats
northward the second week in June through the labyrinthine passageways
of cypress-grown islets to Burrard Inlet.  To Peter Puget was assigned
the work of coasting the mainland side and tracing every inlet to its
head waters.  Johnstone went ahead in a small boat to reconnoitre the
way out of the Pacific.  On both sides the shores now rose in beetling
precipice and steep mountains, down which foamed cataracts setting the
echo of myriad bells tinkling through the wilds.  The sea was tinged
with milky sediment; but fog hung thick as a blanket; and Vancouver
passed on north without seeing Fraser River.  A little farther on,
toward the end of June, he was astonished to meet a Spanish brig and
schooner exploring the straits.  Don Galiano and Don Valdes told him of
the Fraser, which he had missed, and how the Straits of Fuca led out to
the North Pacific.  They had also been off Puget Sound, but had not
gone inland, and brought Vancouver word that Don Quadra, the Spanish
emissary, sent to restore to England the fort from which Meares, the
trader, had been ousted, had arrived at Nootka on the other side of the
island, and was waiting.  The explorers all proceeded up the straits
together; but the little Spanish crafts were unable {274} to keep
abreast of the big English vessels, so with a friendly cheer from both
sides, the English went on alone.

Strange Indian villages lined the beetling heights of the straits.  The
houses, square built and of log slabs, row on row, like the streets of
the white man, were situated high on isolated rocks, inaccessible to
approach except by narrow planking forming a causeway from rock walls
across the sea to the branches of a tree.  In other places rope ladders
formed the only path to the aerial dwellings, or the zigzag trail up
the steep face of a rock down which defenders could hurl stones.
Howe's Sound, Jervis Canal, Bute Inlet, were passed; {275} and in July
Johnstone came back with news he had found a narrow channel out to the

[Illustration: The Discovery on the Rocks.]

The straits narrowed to less than half a mile with such a terrific tide
wash that on Sunday, July 29, the ships failed to answer to the helm
and waves seventeen feet high dashed over decks.  Progress was made by
hauling the boats alongshore with ropes braced round trees.  By the
first of August a dense fog swept in from the sea.  The _Discovery_
crashed on a sunken rock, heeling over till her sails were within three
inches of water.  Ballast was thrown overboard, and the next tide-rush
lifted her.  By August 19 Vancouver had proved--if any doubt
remained--that no Northeast Passage was to be found by way of the
Straits of Fuca.[1]  Then, veering out to sea at midnight through
squalls {276} of rain, he steered to Nootka for the conference with

Vancouver came to Nootka on the 28th of August.  Nootka was the grand
rallying place of fur traders on the Pacific.  It was a triangular
sound extending into the shores of Vancouver Island.  On an island at
the mouth of the sound the Spaniards had built their fort.  This part
of the bay was known as Friendly Cove.  To the north was Snug Cove,
where Cook had anchored; to the south the roadstead of the fur traders.
Mountains rose from the water-line; and on a terrace of hills above the
Spanish fort was the native village of Maquinna, the Indian chief.

{277} Here, then, came Vancouver, met at the harbor mouth by a Spanish
officer with pilot to conduct the _Discovery_ to the Spanish fort of
Nootka.  The _Chatham_, the _Daedalus_, Vancouver's store ship, two or
three English fur-trading ships, Spanish frigates bristling with
cannon, were already at anchor; and the bright Spanish pennant, red and
yellow, waved to the wind above the cannon-mounted, palisaded log fort
of Nootka.

[Illustration: Indian Settlement at Nootka.]

Donning regimentals, Lieutenant Puget marched solemnly up to the fort
to inform Don Juan de la Bodega y Quadra, representative of Spain, that
Captain George Vancouver, representative of England, had arrived at
Nootka to await the pleasure of New Spain's commander.  It was New
Spain's pleasure to receive England's salute; and Vancouver's guns
roared out a volley of thirteen shots to the amaze of two thousand or
more savages watching from the shores.  Formally accompanied by his
officers, Vancouver then paid his respects to New Spain.  Don Quadra
returned the compliment by breakfasting next morning on board the
_Discovery_, while his frigates in turn saluted England by a volley of
thirteen guns.  In all this solemn parade of formality, Maquinna, lord
of the wild domain, began to wonder what part he was to play, and
ventured to board the _Discovery_, clad in a garb of nature, to join
the breakfast of the leaders; when he was summarily cuffed overboard by
the guard, who failed to recognize the Indian's quality.  Don Quadra
then gave a grand dinner to the English, to which the irate Maquinna
{278} was invited.  Five courses the dinner had, with royal salutes
setting the echoes rolling in the hills.  Seventeen guns were fired to
the success of Vancouver's explorations.  Toasts were drunk, foaming
toasts to glory, and the navigators of the Pacific, and Maquinna, grand
chief of the Nootkas, who responded by rising in his place, glass in
hand, to express regret that Spain should withdraw from the North
Pacific.  It was then the brilliant thought flashed on Don Quadra to
win the friendship of the Indians for all the white traders on the
Pacific coast through a ceremonious visit by Vancouver and himself to
Maquinna's home village, twenty miles up the sound.

Cutter and yawl left Friendly Cove at eight in the morning of September
4, coming to Maquinna's home village at two in the afternoon.  Don
Quadra supplied the dinner, served in style by his own Spanish lackeys;
and the gallant Spaniard led Maquinna's only daughter to the seat at
the head of the spread, where the young squaw did the honors with all
the hauteur of the Indian race.  Maquinna then entertained his visitors
with a sham battle of painted warriors, followed by a mask dance.  Not
to be outdone, the whites struck up fife and drum, and gave a wild
display of Spanish fandangoes and Scotch reels.  In honor of the day's
outing, it was decided to name the large island which Vancouver had
almost circumnavigated, Quadra and Vancouver.

When Maquinna returned this visit, there were fireworks, and more
toasts, and more salutes.  All this {279} was very pleasant; but it was
not business.  Then Vancouver requested Don Quadra to ratify the
international agreement between England and Spain; but there proved to
be a wide difference of opinion as to what that agreement meant.
Vancouver held that it entailed the surrender of Spain's sovereignty
from San Francisco northward.  Don Quadra maintained that it only
surrendered Spanish rights north of Juan de Fuca, leaving the northwest
coast free to all nations for trade.  With Vancouver it was all or
nothing.  Don Quadra then suggested that letters be sent to Spain and
England for more specific instructions.  For this purpose Lieutenant
Broughton was to be despatched overland across Mexico to Europe.  It
was at this stage that Robert Gray came down from the north on the
damaged _Columbia_, to receive assistance from Quadra.  Within three
weeks Gray had sailed for Boston, Don Quadra for New Spain, and
Vancouver to the south, to examine that Columbia River of Gray's before
proceeding to winter on the Sandwich Islands.

The three English ships hauled out of Nootka in the middle of October,
steering for that new river of Gray's, of which Vancouver had expressed
such doubt.  The foaming reefs of Cape Disappointment were sighted and
the north entrance seen just as Gray had described it.  The _Chatham_
rode safely inside the heavy cross swell, though her small boat smashed
to chips among the breakers; but on Sunday, October {280} 21, such
mountainous seas were running that Vancouver dared not risk his big
ship, the _Discovery_, across the bar.  Broughton was intrusted to
examine the _Columbia_ before setting out to England for fresh orders.

The _Chatham_ had anchored just inside Cape Disappointment on the
north, then passed south to Cape Adams, using Gray's chart as guide.
Seven miles up the north coast, a deep bay was named after Gray.  Nine
or ten Indian dugouts with one hundred and fifty warriors now escorted
Broughton's rowboat upstream.  The lofty peak ahead covered with snow
was named Mt. Hood.  For seven days Broughton followed the river till
his provision ran out, and the old Indian chief with him explained by
the signs of pointing in the direction of the sunrise and letting water
trickle through his fingers that water-falls ahead would stop passage.
Somehow, Broughton seemed to think because Gray, a private trader, had
not been clad in the gold-braid regimentals of authority, his act of
discovery was void; for Broughton landed, and with the old chief
assisting at the ceremony by drinking healths, took possession of all
the region for England, "having" as the record of the trip explains,
"every reason to believe that the subjects of no other civilized nation
or state had ever entered this river before; in this opinion he was
confirmed by Mr. Gray's sketch, in which it does not appear that Mr.
Gray either saw or was ever within five leagues of the entrance."

{281} Any comment on this proceeding is superfluous.  It was evidently
in the hope that the achievement of Gray--an unassuming fur trader,
backed by nothing but his own dauntless courage--would be forgotten,
which it certainly was for fifty years by nearly all Americans.  Three
days later, on November 3, Broughton was back down-stream at the
_Chatham_, noting the deserted Indian village of Chinook as he passed
to the harbor mouth.  On November 6, in heavy rain, the ship stood out
for sea, passing the _Jenny_ of Bristol, imprisoned inside the cape by
surf.  Broughton landed to reconnoitre the passage out.  The wind
calmed next day, and a breach was descried through the surf.  The
little trading ship led the way, Broughton following, hard put to keep
the _Chatham_ headed for the sea, breakers rolling over her from stem
to stern, snapping the tow-rope of the launch and washing a sailor
overboard; and we cannot but have a higher respect for Gray's feat,
knowing the difficulties that Broughton weathered.

Meanwhile Vancouver on the _Discovery_ had coasted on down from the
mouth of the Columbia to Drake's Bay, just outside the Golden Gate of
San Francisco, where the bold English pirate had anchored in 1579.  By
nightfall of November 14 he was inside the spacious harbor of San
Francisco.  Two men on horseback rode out from the Spanish settlement,
a mile back from the water front, firing muskets as a salute to
Vancouver.  The next morning, a Spanish friar and {282} ensign came
aboard the _Discovery_ for breakfast, pointing out to Vancouver the
best anchorage for both wood and water.  While the sailors went
shooting quail on the hills, or amused themselves watching the Indians
floating over the harbor on rafts made of dry rushes and grass, the
good Spanish padre conducted Vancouver ashore to the presidio, or house
of the commandant, back from the landing on a little knoll surrounded
by hills.  The fort was a square area of adobe walls fourteen feet high
and five deep, the outer beams filled in between with a plaster of
solid mortar, houses and walls whitewashed from lime made of
sea-shells.  A small brass cannon gathered rust above one dilapidated
carriage, and another old gun was mounted by being lashed to a rotten
log.  A single gate led into the fort, which was inhabited by the
commandant, the guard of thirty-five soldiers, and their families.  The
windows of the houses were very small and without glass, the
commandant's house being a rude structure thirty by fourteen feet,
whitewashed inside and out, the floor sand and rushes, the furnishings
of the roughest handicraft.  The mission proper was three miles from
the fort, with a guard of five soldiers and a corporal.  Such was the
beginning of the largest city on the Pacific coast to-day.

Broughton was now sent overland to England for instructions about the
transfer of Nootka.  Puget became commander of the _Chatham_.  The
store ship _Daedalus_ was sent to the South Seas, and touching only
{283} at Monterey, Vancouver sailed to winter in the Sandwich Islands.
Here two duties awaited the explorer, which he carried out in a way
that left a streak both of glory and of shame across his escutcheon.
The Sandwich Islands had become the halfway house of the Pacific for
the fur traders.  How fur traders--riff-raff adventurers from earth's
ends beyond the reach of law--may have acted among these simple people
may be guessed from the conduct of Cook's crews; and Cook was a strict
disciplinarian.  Those who sow to the wind, need not be surprised if
they reap the whirlwind.  White men, welcomed by these Indians as gods,
repaid the native hospitality by impressing natives as crews to a
northern climate where the transition from semitropics meant almost
certain death.  For a fur trader to slip into Hawaii, entice women
aboard, then scud off to America where the victims might rot unburied
for all the traders cared--was considered a joke.  How the joke caused
Captain Cook's death the world knows; and the joke was becoming a
little frequent, a little bold, a little too grim for the white
traders' sense of security.  The Sandwich Islanders had actually formed
the plot of capturing every vessel that came into their harbors and
holding the crews for extortionate ransom.  How many white men were
victims of this plot--to die by the assassin's knife or waiting for the
ransom that never came--is not a part of this record.  It was becoming
a common thing to find white men living in a state of quasi-slavery
among the {284} islanders, each white held as hostage for the security
of the others not escaping.  Within three years three ships had been
attacked, one Spanish, one American, one English--the store ship
_Daedalus_ on the way out to Nootka with supplies for Vancouver.  Two
officers, Hergest and Gooch of the _Daedalus_, had been seized,
stripped naked, forced at the point of spears up a hill to the native
village, and cut to pieces.  Vancouver determined to put a stop to such
attacks.  Arriving at the islands, he trained his cannon ashore,
demanded that the murderers of the _Daedalus's_ officers be
surrendered, tried the culprits with all the solemnity and speed of
English court-martial, sentenced them to death, had them tied up to the
mast poles and executed.  That is the blot against Vancouver; for the
islanders had put up a trick.  The real murderers had been leading
chiefs.  Not wishing to surrender these, the islanders had given
Vancouver poor slaves quite guiltless of the crime.

In contrast to this wrong-headed demonstration of justice was
Vancouver's other act.  At Nootka he had found among the traders two
young Hawaiian girls not more than fifteen and nineteen years of age,
whom some blackguard trader had forcibly carried off.  The most of
great voyagers would not have soiled their gloves interfering with such
a case.  Cook had winked at such crimes.  Drake, two hundred years
before, had laughed.  The Russians outdid either Drake or Cook.  They
dumped the victims overboard where the {285} sea told no tales.
Vancouver might have been strict enough disciplinarian to execute the
wrong men by way of a lesson; but he was consistent in his strictness.
Round these two friendless savages he wrapped all the chivalry and the
might of the English flag.  He received them on board the _Discovery_,
treated them as he might have treated his own sisters, prevented the
possibility of insult from the common sailors by having them at his own
table on the ship, taught them the customs of Europeans toward women
and the reasons for those customs, so that the young girls presently
had the respect and friendship of every sailor on board the
_Discovery_.  In New Spain he had obtained clothing and delicacies for
them that white women have; and in the Sandwich Islands took
precautions against their death at the hands of Hawaiians for having
been on the ship with strange men, by securing from the Sandwich Island
chief the promise of his protection for them and the gifts of a home
inside the royal enclosure.

April of 1793 saw Vancouver back again on the west coast of America.
In results this year's exploring was largely negative; but the object
of Vancouver's life was a negative one--to prove there was no passage
between Pacific and Atlantic.  He had missed the Columbia the previous
year by standing off the coast north of Mendocino.  So this year, he
again plied up the same shore to Nootka.  No fresh instructions had
{286} come from England or Spain to Nootka; and Vancouver took up the
trail of the sea where he had stopped the year before, carrying forward
survey of island and mainland from Vancouver Island northward to the
modern Sitka or Norfolk Sound.  Gray, the American, had been attacked
by Indians here the year before; and Vancouver did not escape the
hostility of these notoriously treacherous tribes.  Up Behm Canal the
ships were visited by warriors wearing death-masks, who refused
everything in exchange for their sea-otter except firearms.  The canal
here narrowed to a dark canyon overhung by beetling cliffs.  Four large
war canoes manned by several hundred savages daubed with war paint
succeeded in surrounding the small launch, and while half the warriors
held the boat to prevent it escaping, the rest had rifled it of
everything they could take, from belaying-pins and sail rope to
firearms, before Vancouver lost patience and gave orders to fire.  At
the shot the Indians were over decks and into the sea like water-rats,
while forces ambushed on land began rolling rocks and stones down the
precipices.  One gains some idea of Vancouver's thoroughness by his
work up Portland Canal, which was to become famous a hundred years
later as the scene of boundary disputes.  Here, so determined was he to
prove none of the passages led to the Atlantic that his small boat
actually cruised seven hundred miles without going more than sixty
miles from ocean front.  By October of 1793 Vancouver had demolished
the myth of {287} a possible passage between New Spain and Russian
America; for he had examined every inlet from San Francisco to what is
now Sitka.  While the results were negative to himself, far different
were they to Russia.  It was Vancouver's voyage northward that stirred
the Russians up to move southward.  In a word, if Vancouver had not
gone up as far as Norfolk Sound or Sitka, the Russian fur traders would
have drowsed on with Kadiak as headquarters, and Canada to-day might
have included the entire gold-fields of Alaska.

Again Vancouver wintered in the Sandwich Islands.  In the year 1794 he
changed the direction of his exploring.  Instead of beginning at New
Spain and working north, he began at Russian America and worked south.
Kadiak and Cook's Inlet were regarded as the eastern bounds of Russian
settlement at this time, though the hunting brigades of the Russians
scoured far and wide; so Vancouver began his survey eastward at Cook's
Inlet.  Terrific floods of ice banged the ships' bows as they plied up
Cook's Inlet; and the pistol-shot reports of the vast icebergs breaking
from the walls of the solid glacier coast forewarned danger; but
Vancouver was not to be deterred.  Again the dogged ill-luck of always
coming in second for the prize he coveted marked each stage of his
trip.  Russian forts were seen on Cook's Inlet, Russian settlements on
Prince William Sound, Russian flotillas of nine hundred {288} Aleutian
hunters steering by instinct like the gulls spreading over the sea as
far east as Bering Bay, or where the coast of Alaska dips southward.
Everywhere he heard the language of Russia, everywhere saw that Russia
regarded his explorations with jealousy as intrusion; everywhere
observed that Russian and savage had come to an understanding and now
lived as friends, if not brothers.  Twice Baranof, the little Czar of
the North, sent word for Vancouver to await a conference; but Vancouver
was not keen to meet the little Russian potentate.  One row at a time
was enough; and the quarrel with Spain was still unsettled.  The waters
of to-day plied by the craft of gold seekers, Bering Bay, Lynn Canal,
named after his birthplace, were now so thoroughly surveyed by
Vancouver that his charts may still be used.

[Illustration: Reindeer Herd in Siberia.]

Only once did the maze of waterways seem to promise a northeast
passage.  It was up Lynn Canal, where so many gold seekers have rushed
to have their hopes dashed, like Vancouver.  Two officers had gone up
the channel in a small boat to see if any opening led to the Atlantic.
Boisterous weather and tremendous tide had lashed the sea to foam.  The
long daylight was so delusive that the men did not realize it was
nearly midnight.  At ten o'clock they had rowed ashore, to rest from
their fight with wave and wind, when armed Indians suddenly rushed down
to the water's edge in battle array, spears couched.  The exhausted
rowers bent to the oars all night.  At one place in their {289} retreat
to open sea, the fog lifted to reveal the passage between precipices
only a few feet wide with warriors' canoes on every side.  A crash of
musketry drove the assailants off.  Two or three men kept guard with
pointed muskets, while the oarsmen pulled through a rolling cross swell
back to the protection of the big ships outside.

On August 19, as the ships drove south to Norfolk or Sitka Sound, the
men suddenly recognized headlands where they had cruised the summer
before.  For a second they scarcely realized.  Then they knew that
their explorations from Alaska southward had come to the meeting place
of their voyage from New Spain northward.  Just a little more than
fifty years from Bering's discoveries, the exploration of the northwest
coast of America had been completed.  Some one emitted an incoherent
shout that the work was finished!  The cheer was caught up by every man
on board.  Some one else recalled that it had been April when they set
out on the fool-quest of the Northeast Passage; and a true April's fool
the quest had proved!  Then flags were run up; the wine casks brought
out, the marines drawn up in line, and three such volleys of joy fired
as those sailors alone could feel.  For four years they had followed
the foolish quest of the learned world's error.  That night Vancouver
gave a gala dinner to his crews.  They deserved it.  Their four years'
cruise marked the close of the most heroic epoch on the Pacific coast.
Vancouver had accomplished his life-work--there {290} was no northeast
passage through the west coast of America.[2]

[1] The legend of Juan de Fuca became current about 1592, as issued in
_Samuel Purchas' Pilgrims_ in 1625, Vol. III: "A note made by Michael
Lok, the elder, touching the strait of sea commonly called _Fretum
Anian_ in the South Sea through the North-West Passage of Meta
Incognita."  Lok met in Venice, in April, 1596, an old man called Juan
de Fuca, a Greek mariner and pilot, of the crew of the galleon _Santa
Anna_ taken by Cavendish near southern California in 1587.  The pilot
narrated after his return to Mexico, he was sent by the viceroy with
three vessels to discover the Strait of Anian.  This expedition
failing, he was again sent in 1592, with a small caravel in which "he
followed the course west and northwest to latitude 47 north, there
finding a broad inlet between 47 and 48, he entered, sailing therein
more than twenty days . . . and found very much broader sea than was at
the said entrance . . . a great island with a high pinnacle. . . .
Being come into the North Sea . . . he returned to Acapulco." According
to the story the old pilot tried to find his way to England in the hope
of the Queen recouping him for goods taken by Cavendish, and furnishing
him with a ship to essay the Northeast Passage again.  The old man died
before Raleigh and other Englishmen could forward money for him to come
to England.  Whether the story is purely a sailor's yarn, or the pilot
really entered the straits named after him, and losing his bearings
when he came out in the Pacific imagined he was on the Atlantic, is a
dispute among savants.

[2] The data of Vancouver's voyage come chiefly, of course, from the
volume by himself, issued after his death, _Voyage of Discovery to the
Pacific Ocean_, London, 1798.  Supplementary data may be found in the
records of predecessors and contemporaries like Meares's _Voyages_,
London, 1790, Portlock's _Voyage_, London, 1789; Dixon's _Voyage_,
London, 1789, and others, from whom nearly all modern writers, like
Greenhow, Hubert Howe Bancroft, draw their information.  The reports of
Dr. Davidson in his Coast and Survey work, and his _Alaska Boundary_,
identify many of Vancouver's landfalls, and illustrate the tremendous
difficulties overcome in local topography.  It is hardly necessary to
refer to Begg and Mayne, and other purely local sketches of British
Columbian coast lines; as Begg's _History_ simply draws from the old
voyages.  Of modern works, Dr. Davidson's Survey works, and the
official reports of the Canadian Geological Survey (Dawson), are the
only ones that add any facts to what Vancouver has recorded.








The Pursuit of the Sable leads Cossacks across Siberia, of the
Sea-Otter, across the Pacific as far South as California--Caravans of
Four Thousand Horses on the Long Trail Seven Thousand Miles across
Europe and Asia--Banditti of the Sea--The Union of All Traders in One
Monopoly--Siege and Slaughter of Sitka--How Monroe Doctrine grew out of
Russian Fur Trade--Aims of Russia to dominate North Pacific

"_Sea Voyagers of the Northern Ocean_" they styled themselves, the
Cossack banditti--robber knights, pirates, plunderers--who pursued the
little sable across Europe and Asia eastward, just as the French
_coureurs des bois_ followed the beaver across America westward.  And
these two great tides of adventurers--the French voyager, threading the
labyrinthine waterways of American wilds westward; the Russian voyager
exchanging his reindeer sled and desert caravans for crazy rafts of
green timbers to cruise across the Pacific eastward--were directed both
to the same region, animated by the same impulse, the capture of the
Pacific coast of America.


[Illustration: Raised Reindeer Sledges.]

The tide of adventure set eastward across Siberia at the very time
(1579) Francis Drake, the English freebooter, was sacking the ports of
New Spain on his way to California.  Yermac, robber knight and leader
of a thousand Cossack banditti, had long levied tribute of loot on the
caravans bound from Russia to Persia.  Then came the avenging army of
the Czar.  Yermac fled to Siberia, wrested the country from the
Tartars, and obtained forgiveness from the Czar by laying a new realm
at his feet.  But these Cossack plunderers did not stop with Siberia.
Northward were the ivory tusks of the frozen tundras.  Eastward were
precious furs of the snow-padded forests and mountains toward
Kamchatka.  For both ivory and furs the smugglers of the Chinese
borderlands would pay a price.  On pretence of collecting one-tenth
tribute for the Czar, forward pressed the Cossacks; now on
horseback,--wild {295} brutes got in trade from Tartars,--now behind
reindeer teams through snowy forests where the spreading hoofs carried
over drifts; now on rude-planked rafts hewn from green firs on the
banks of Siberian rivers; on and on pushed the plunderers till the
Arctic rolled before them on the north, and the Pacific on the east.[1]
Nor did the seas of these strange shores bar the Cossacks.  Long before
Peter the Great had sent Vitus Bering to America in 1741, Russian
voyagers had launched out east and north with a daredevil recklessness
that would have done honor to prehistoric man.  That part of their
adventures is a record that exceeds the wildest darings of fiction.
Their boats were called _kotches_.  They were some sixty feet long,
flat bottomed, planked with green timber.  Not a nail was used.  Where
were nails to come from six thousand miles across the frozen tundras?
Indeed, iron was so scarce that at a later day when ships with nails
ventured on {296} these seas natives were detected diving below to pull
the nails from the timbers with their teeth.  Instead of nails, the
Cossack used reindeer thongs to bind the planking together.  Instead of
tar, moss and clay and the tallow of sea animals calked the seams.
Needless to say, there was neither canvas nor rope.  Reindeer thongs
supplied the cordage, reindeer hides the sails.  On such rickety craft,
"with the help of God and a little powder," the Russian voyagers
hoisted sail and put to sea.  On just such vessels did Deshneff and
Staduchin attempt to round Asia from the Arctic into Bering Sea

To be sure, the first bang of the ice-floes against the prow of these
rickety boats knocked them into kindling-wood.  Two-thirds of the
Cossack voyagers were lost every year; and often all news that came of
the crew was a mast pole washed in by the tide with a dead man lashed
to the crosstrees.  Small store of fresh water could be carried.  Pine
needles were the only antidote for scurvy; and many a time the boat
came tumbling back to the home port, not a man well enough to stand
before the mast.

Always it is what lies just beyond that lures.  It is the unknown that
beckons like the arms of the old sea sirens.  Groping through the mists
that hang like a shroud over these northern seas, hoar frosts clinging
to masts and decks till the boat might have been some ghost ship in a
fog world, the Cossack plunderers {297} sometimes caught glimpses far
ahead--twenty, thirty, forty miles eastward--of a black line along the
sea.  Was it land or fog, ice or deep water?  And when the wind blew
from the east, strange land birds alighted on the yard-arms.  Dead
whales with the harpoons of strange hunters washed past the ship; and
driftwood of a kind that did not grow in Asia tossed up on the tide
wrack.  It was the word brought back by these free-lances of the sea
that induced Peter the Great to send Vitus Bering on a voyage of
discovery to the west coast of America; and when the castaways of
Bering's wreck returned with a new fur that was neither beaver nor
otter, but larger than either and of a finer sheen than sable, selling
the pelts to Chinese merchants for what would be from one hundred and
fifty to two hundred dollars each in modern money, the effect was the
same as the discovery of a gold mine.  The new fur was the sea-otter,
as peculiar to the Pacific as the seal and destined to lead the
Cossacks on a century's wild hunt from Alaska to California.  Cossacks,
Siberian merchants, exiled criminals, banded together in as wild a
stampede to the west coast of America as ever a gold mine caused among
civilized men of a later day.

The little _kotches_ that used to cruise out from Siberian rivers no
longer served.  Siberian merchants advanced the capital for the
building of large sloops.  Cargo of trinkets for trade with American
Indians was supplied in the same way.  What would be fifty thousand
dollars in modern money, it took to build and {298} equip one of these
sloops; but a cargo of sea-otter was to be had for the taking--barring
storms that yearly engulfed two-thirds of the hunters, and hostile
Indians that twice wiped Russian settlements from the coast of
America--and if these pelts sold for one hundred and fifty dollars
each, the returns were ample to compensate risk and outlay.
Provisions, cordage, iron, ammunition, firearms, all had to be brought
from St. Petersburg, seven thousand miles to the Pacific coast.  From
St. Petersburg to Moscow, Kasan, the Tartar desert and Siberia, pack
horses were used.  It was a common thing for caravans of four or even
five thousand pack horses employed by the Russian fur traders of
America to file into Irkutsk of a night.  At the head waters of the
Lena, rafts and flatboats, similar to the old Mackinaw boats of
American fur traders on the Missouri, were built and the cargo floated
down to Yakutsk, the great rendezvous of Siberian fur traders.  Here
exiles acting as packers and Cossacks as overseers usually went on a
wild ten days' spree.  From Yakutsk pack horses, dog trains, and
reindeer teams were employed for the remaining thousand miles to the
Pacific; and this was the hardest part of the journey.  Mountains
higher than the Rockies had to be traversed.  Mountain torrents
tempestuous with the spring thaw had to be forded--ice cold and to the
armpits of the drivers; and in winter time, the packs of timber wolves
following on the heels of the cavalcade could only be driven off by the
hounds kept to course down grouse and hare {299} for the evening meal.
If an exile forced to act as transport packer fell behind, that was the
last of him.  The Russian fur traders of America never paused in their
plans for a life more or less.  Ordinarily it took three years for
goods sent from St. Petersburg to reach the Pacific; and this was only
a beginning of the hardships.  The Pacific had to be crossed, and a
coast lined with reefs like a ploughed field traversed for two thousand
miles among Indians notorious for their treachery.

The vessels were usually crammed with traps and firearms and trinkets
to the water-line.  The crews of forty, or seventy, or one hundred were
relegated to vermin-infested hammocks above decks, with short rations
of rye bread and salt fish, and such scant supply of fresh water that
scurvy invariably ravaged the ship whenever foul weather lengthened the
passage.  Having equipped the vessel, the Siberian merchants passed
over the management to the Cossacks, whose pretence of conquering new
realms and collecting tribute for the Czar was only another excuse for
the same plunder in gathering sea-otter as their predecessors had
practised in hunting the sable.  Landsmen among Siberian exiles were
enlisted as crew of their own free will at first, but afterward, when
the horrors of wreck and scurvy and massacre became known, both exiles
and Indians were impressed by force as fur hunters for the Cossacks.
If the voyage were successful, half the {300} proceeds went to the
outfitter, the remaining half to Cossacks and crew.

The boats usually sailed in the fall, and wintered on Bering Island.
Here stores of salted meat, sea-lion and sea-cow, were laid up, and the
following spring the ship steered for the Aleutians, or the main coast
of Alaska, or the archipelago round the modern Sitka.  Sloops were
anchored offshore fully armed for refuge in case of attack.  Huts were
then constructed of driftwood on land.  Toward the east and south,
where the Indians were treacherous and made doubly so by the rum and
firearms of rival traders, palisades were thrown up round the fort, a
sort of balcony erected inside with brass cannon mounted where a sentry
paraded day and night, ringing a bell every hour in proof that he was
not asleep.  Westward toward the Aleutians, where driftwood was scarce,
the Russians built their forts in one of two places: either a sandy
spit where the sea protected them on three sides, as at Captain Harbor,
Oonalaska, and St. Paul, Kadiak, or on a high, rocky eminence only
approachable by a zigzag path at the top of which stood cannon and
sentry, as at Cook's Inlet.  Chapel and barracks for the hunters might
be outside the palisade; but the main house was inside, a single story
with thatch roof, a door at one end, a rough table at the other.
Sleeping berths with fur bedding were on the side walls, and every
other available piece of wall space bristled with daggers and firearms
ready {301} for use.  If the house was a double-decker, as Baranof
Castle at Sitka, powder was stored in the cellar.  Counting-rooms, mess
room, and fur stores occupied the first floor.  Sleeping quarters were
upstairs, and, above all, a powerful light hung in the cupola, to guide
ships into port at night.

But these arrangements concerned only the Cossack officers of the early
era, or the governors like Baranof, of a later day.  The rank and file
of the crews were off on the hunting-grounds with the Indians; and the
hunting-grounds of the sea-otter were the storm-beaten kelp beds of the
rockiest coast in the world.  Going out in parties of five or six, the
_promyshleniki_, as the hunters were called, promised implicit
obedience to their foreman.  Store of venison would be taken in a
preliminary hunt.  Indian women and children would be left at the
Russian fort as hostages of good conduct, and at the head of as many as
four, five hundred, a thousand Aleut Indian hunters who had been
bludgeoned, impressed, bribed by the promise of firearms to hunt for
the Cossacks, six Russians would set out to coast a tempestuous sea for
a thousand miles in frail boats made of parchment stretched on
whalebone.  Sometimes a counter-tide would sweep a whole flotilla out
to sea, when never a man of the hunting crew would be heard of more.
Sometimes, when the hunters were daring a gale, riding in on the back
of a storm to catch the sea-otter driven ashore to the kelp beds for a
rest, the back-wash of a billow, or a sudden {302} hurricane of wind
raising mountain seas, would crash down on the brigade.  When the spray
cleared, the few panic-stricken survivors were washing ashore too
exhausted to be conscious that half their comrades had gone under.
Absurd as it seems that these plunderers of the deep always held
prayers before going off on a hunt--is it any wonder they prayed?  It
was in such brigades that the Russian hunters cruised the west coast of
America from Bering Sea to the Gulf of California, and the whole
northwest coast of America is punctuated with saints' names from the
Russian calendar; for, like Drake's freebooters, they had need to pray.

Fur companies world over have run the same course.  No sooner has game
become scarce on the hunting-grounds, than rivals begin the merry game
of slitting one another's throats, or instigating savages to do the
butchering for them.  That was the record of the Hudson's Bay Company
and Nor'westers in Canada, and the Rocky Mountain men and American
Company on the Missouri.  Four years after Bering's crew had brought
back word of the sea-otter in 1742, there were seventy-seven different
private Russian concerns hunting sea-otter off the islands of Alaska.
Fifty years later, after Cook, the English navigator, had spread
authentic news of the wealth in furs to be had on the west coast of
America, there were sixty different fur companies on the Pacific coast
carrying {303} almost as many different flags.  John Jacob Astor's
ships had come round the Horn from New York and, sailing right into the
Russian hunting-grounds, were endeavoring to make arrangements to
furnish supplies to the Russians in exchange for cargoes of the
fur-seals, whose rookeries had been discovered about the time sea-otter
began to be scarce.  Kendrick, Gray, Ingraham, Coolidge, a dozen Boston
men were threading the shadowy, forested waterways between New Spain
and Alaska.[2]  Ships from Spain, from France, from London, from
Canton, from Bengal, from Austria, were on the west coast of America.
The effect was twofold: sea-otter were becoming scarce from being
slaughtered indiscriminately, male and female, young and old; the fur
trade was becoming bedevilled from rival traders using rum among the
savages.  The life of a fur trader on the Pacific coast was not worth a
pin's purchase fifty yards away from the cannon mouths pointed through
the netting fastened round the deck rails to keep savages off ships.
Just as Lord Selkirk indirectly brought about the consolidation of the
Hudson's Bay fur traders with Nor'westers, and John Jacob Astor
attempted the same ends between the St. Louis and New York companies,
so a master mind arose among the Russians, grasping the situation, and
ready to cope with its difficulties.

[Illustration: John Jacob Astor.]

This was Gregory Ivanovich Shelikoff, a fur trader {304} of Siberia,
accompanied to America and seconded by his wife, Natalie, who succeeded
in carrying out many of his plans after his death.  Shelikoff owned
shares in two of the principal Russian companies.  When he came to
America accompanied by his wife, Baranof, another trader, and two
hundred men in 1784, the Russian headquarters were still at Oonalaska
in the Aleutians.  Only desultory expeditions had gone eastward.
Foreign ships had already come among the Russian hunting-grounds of the
north.  These Shelikoff at once checkmated by moving Russian
headquarters east to Three Saints, Kadiak.  Savages warned him from the
island, threatening death to the Aleut Indian hunters he had brought.
Shelikoff's answer was a load of presents to the hostile messenger.
That failing, he took advantage of an eclipse of the sun as a sign to
the superstitious Indians that the coming of the Russians was noted and
blessed of Heaven.  The unconvinced Kadiak savages responded by
ambushing the first Russians to leave camp, and showering arrows on the
Russian boats.  Shelikoff gathered up his men, sallied forth, whipped
the Indians off their feet, took four hundred prisoners, treated them
well, and so won the friendship of the islanders.  From the new
quarters hunters were despatched eastward under Baranof and others as
far as what is now Sitka.  These yearly came back with cargoes of
sea-otter worth two hundred thousand dollars.  Shelikoff at once saw
that if the Russian traders were to hold their own against {305} the
foreign adventurers of all nations flocking to the Pacific,
headquarters must be moved still farther eastward, and the prestige of
the Russian government invoked to exclude foreigners.  There were, in
fact, no limits to the far-sighted ambitions of the man.  Ships were to
be despatched to California setting up signs of Russian possession.
Forts in Hawaii could be used as a mid-Pacific arsenal and halfway
house for the Russian fleet that was to dominate the North Pacific.  A
second Siberia on the west coast of America, with limits eastward as
vague as the Hudson's Bay Company's claims westward, was to be added to
the domains of the Czar.  Whether the idea of declaring the North
Pacific a _closed sea_ as Spain had declared the South Pacific a
_closed sea_ till Francis Drake opened it, originated in the brain of
Shelikoff, or his successors, is immaterial.  It was the aggrandizement
of the Russian American Fur Company as planned by Shelikoff from 1784
to 1796, that led to the Russian government trying to exclude foreign
traders from the North Pacific twenty-five years later, and which in
turn led to the declaration of the famous Monroe Doctrine by the United
States in 1823--that the New World was no longer to be the happy
hunting-ground of Old World nations bent on conquest and colonization.

Like many who dream greatly, Shelikoff did not live to see his plans
carried out.  He died in Irkutsk in 1795; but in St. Petersburg, when
pressing upon {306} the government the necessity of uniting all the
independent traders in one all-powerful company to be given exclusive
monopoly on the west coast of America, he had met and allied himself
with a young courtier, Nikolai Rezanoff.[3]  When Shelikoff died,
Rezanoff it was who obtained from the Czar in 1799 a charter for the
Russian American Fur Company, giving it exclusive monopoly for hunting,
trading, and exploring north of 55 degrees in the Pacific.  Other
companies were compelled either to withdraw or join.  Royalty took
shares in the venture.  Shareholders of St. Petersburg were to direct
affairs, and Baranof, the governor, resident in America, to have power
of life and death, despotic as a czar.  By 1800 the capital of Russian
America had been moved down to the modern Sitka, called Archangel
Michael in the trust of the Lord's anointed protecting these plunderers
of the sea.  Shelikoff's dreams were coming true.  Russia was
checkmating the advances of England and the United States and New
Spain.  Schemes were in the air with Baranof for the impressment of
Siberian exiles as peasant farmers among the icebergs of Prince William
Sound, for the remission of one-tenth tribute in furs from the Aleuts
on condition of free service as hunters with the company, and for the
employment of Astor's ships as purveyors of provisions to Sitka, when
there fell a bolt {307} from the blue that well-nigh wiped Russian
possession from the face of America.

It was a sleepy summer afternoon toward the end of June in 1802.
Baranof had left a guard of twenty or thirty Russians at Sitka and,
confident that all was well, had gone north to Kadiak.  Aleut Indians,
impressed as hunters, were about the fort, for the fiery Kolosh or
Sitkans of this region would not bow the neck to Russian tyranny.  Safe
in the mountain fastnesses behind the fort, they refused to act as
slaves.  How they regarded this invasion of their hunting-ground by
alien Indians--Indians acting as slaves--may be guessed.[4]  Whether
rival traders, deserters from an American ship, living with the Sitkan
Indians, instigated the conspiracy cannot be known.  I have before me
letters written by a fur trader of a rival company at that time,
declaring if a certain trader did not cease his methods, that "pills
would be bought at Montreal with as good poison as pills from London;"
and the sentiment of the writer gives a true idea of the code that
prevailed among American fur traders.

The fort at that time occupied a narrow strip between a dense forest
and the rocky water front a few miles north of the present site.
Whether the renegade American sailors living in the forests with the
Kolosh betrayed all the inner plans of the fort, or the squaws daily
passing in and out with berries kept their {308} countrymen informed of
Russian movements, the blow was struck when the whites were off guard.
It was a holiday.  Half the Russians were outside the palisades
unarmed, fishing.  The remaining fifteen men seem to have been upstairs
about midday in the rooms of the commander, Medvednikoff.  Suddenly the
sleepy sentry parading the balcony noticed Michael, chief of the
Kolosh, standing on the shore shouting at sixty canoes to land quickly.
Simultaneously the patter of moccasined feet came from the dense forest
to the rear--a thousand Kolosh warriors, every Indian armed and wearing
the death-mask of battle.  Before the astounded sentry could sound an
alarm, such a hideous uproar of shouts arose as might have come from
bedlam let loose.  The Indian always imitates the cries of the wild
beast when he fights--imitates or sets free the wild beast in his own
nature.  For a moment the Russians were too dumfounded to collect their
senses.  Then women and children dashed for refuge upstairs in the main
building, huddling over the trapdoor in a frenzy of fright.  Russians
outside the palisades ran for the woods, some to fall lanced through
the back as they raced, others to reach shelter of the dense forest,
where they lay for eight days under hiding of bark and moss before
rescue came.  Medvednikoff, the commander, and a dozen others, seem to
have hurled themselves downstairs at the first alarm, but already the
outer doors had been rammed.  The panels of the inner door were slashed
out.  A flare of {309} musketry met the Russians full in the face.  The
defenders dropped to a man, fearless in death as in life, though one
wounded fellow seems to have dragged himself to the balcony where he
succeeded in firing off the cannon before he was thrown over the
palisades, to be received on the hostiles' upturned spears.  Meanwhile
wads of burning birch bark and moss had been tossed into the fort on
the powder magazines.  A high wind fanned the flames.  A terrific
explosion shook the fort.  The trap-door where the women huddled
upstairs gave way.  Half the refugees fell through, where they were
either butchered or perished in the flames.  The others plunged from
the burning building through the windows.  A few escaped to the woods.
The rest--Aleut women, wives of the Russians--were taken captive by the
Kolosh.  Ships, houses, fortress, all were in flames.  By nightfall
nothing remained of Sitka but the brass and iron of the melted cannon.
The hostiles had saved loot of some two thousand sea-otter skins.

All that night, and for eight days and nights, the refugees of the
forest lay hidden under bark and moss.  Under cover of darkness, one, a
herdsman, ventured down to the charred ruins of Sitka.  The mangled,
headless bodies of the Russians lay in the ashes.  At noon of the
eighth day the mountains suddenly rocked to the echo of two
cannon-shots from the bay.  A ship had come.  Three times one Russian
ventured to the shore, and three times was chased back to the woods;
{310} but he had seen enough.  The ship was an English trader under
Captain Barber, who finally heard the shouts of the pursued man, put
off a small boat and rescued him.  Three others were saved from the
woods in the same way, but had been only a few days on the ship, when
Michael, the Kolosh chief, emboldened by success, rowed out with a
young warrior and asked the English captain to give up the Russians.
Barber affected not to understand, lured both Indians on board, seized
them, put them in irons, and tied them across a cannon mouth, when he
demanded the restoration of all captives and loot; but the Sitkan chief
probably had his own account of who suggested the massacre.  Also it
was to the English captain's interests to remain on good terms with the
Indians.  Anyway, the twenty captives were not restored till two other
ships had entered port, and sent some Kolosh canoes to bottom with
grape-shot.  The savages were then set free, and hastening up to
Kadiak, Barber levelled his cannon at the Russian fort and demanded
thirty-seven thousand five hundred dollars' salvage for the rescue of
the captives and loot.  Baranof haggled the Englishman tired, and
compromised for one-fifth the demand.

Two years passed, and the fur company was powerless to strike an
avenging blow.  Wherever the Russians led Aleuts into the Kolosh
hunting-grounds, there had been ambush and massacre; but Baranof {311}
bided his time.  The Aleut Indian hunters, who had become
panic-stricken, gradually regained sufficient courage again to follow
the Russians eastward.  By the spring of 1804 Baranof's men had
gathered up eight hundred Aleut Indians, one hundred and twenty Russian
hunters, four small schooners, and two sloops.  The Indians in their
light boats of sea-lion skin on whalebone, the Russians in their
sail-boats, Baranof set out in April from St. Paul, Kadiak, with his
thousand followers to wreak vengeance on the tribes of Sitka.
Sea-otter were hunted on the way, so that it was well on in September
before the brigades entered Sitka waters.  Meanwhile aid from an
unexpected quarter had come to the fur company.  Lieutenant Krusenstern
had prevailed on the Russian government to send supplies to the Russian
American Company by two vessels around the world instead of caravans
across Siberia.  With Krusenstern went Rezanoff, who had helped the fur
traders to obtain their charter, and was now commissioned to open an
embassy to Japan.  The second vessel under Captain Lisiansky proceeded
at once to Baranof's aid at Sitka.

Baranof was hunting when Lisiansky's man-of-war entered the gloomy
wilds of Sitka Sound.  The fur company's two sloops lay at anchor with
lanterns swinging bow and stern to guide the hunters home.  The eight
hundred hostiles had fortified themselves behind the site of the modern
Sitka.  Palisades the depth of two spruce logs ran across the front of
the {312} rough barricade, loopholed for musketry, and protected by a
sort of cheval-de-frise of brushwood and spines.  At the rear of the
enemy's fort ran sally ports leading to the ambush of the woods, and
inside were huts enough to house a small town.  By the 28th of
September Baranof's Aleut Indian hunters had come in and camped
alongshore under protection of cannon sent close inland on a small
boat.  It was a weird scene that the Russian officers witnessed, the
enemy's fort, unlighted and silent as death, the Aleut hunters
alongshore dancing themselves into a frenzy of bravado, the spruce
torches of the coast against the impenetrable forest like fireflies in
a thicket; an occasional fugitive canoe from the enemy attempting to
steal through the darkness out of the harbor, only to be blown to bits
by a cannon-shot.  The ships began to line up and land field-pieces for
action, when a Sitkan came out with overtures of peace.  Baranof gave
him the present of a gay coat, told him the fort must be surrendered,
and chiefs sent to the Russians as hostages of good conduct.  Thirty
warriors came the next day, but the whites insisted on chiefs as
hostages, and the braves retired.  On October the first a white flag
was run up on the ship of war.  No signal answered from the barricade.
The Russian ships let blaze all the cannon simultaneously, only to find
that the double logs of the barricade could not be penetrated.  No
return fire came from the Sitkans.  Two small boats were then landed to
destroy the enemy's {313} stores.  Still not a sign from the barricade.
Raging with impatience, Baranof went ashore supported by one hundred
and fifty men, and with a wild halloo led the way to rush the fort.
The hostile Sitkans husbanded their strength with a coolness equal to
the famous thin red line of British fame.  Not a signal, not a sound,
not the faintest betrayal of their strength or weakness till in the
dusk Baranof was within gunshot of the logs, when his men were met with
a solid wall of fire.  The Aleuts stopped, turned, stampeded.  Out
sallied the Sitkans pursuing Russians and Aleuts to the water's edge,
where the body of one dead Russian was brandished on spear ends.  In
the sortie fourteen of the Russian forces were killed, twenty-six
wounded, among whom was Baranof, shot through the shoulder.  The guns
of the war ship were all that saved the retreat from a panic.

Lisiansky then undertook the campaign, letting drive such a brisk fire
the next day that the Sitkans came suing for peace by the afternoon.
Three days the cunning savages stayed the Russian attack on pretence of
arranging hostages.  Hailing the fort on the morning of the 6th and
securing no answer, Lisiansky again played his cannon on the barricade.
That night a curious sound, that was neither chant nor war-cry, came
from the thick woods.  At daylight carrion crows were seen circling
above the barricade.  Three hundred Russians landed.  Approaching
cautiously for fear of ambuscade, they clambered over the {314}
palisades and looked.  The fort was deserted.  Naught of the Sitkans
remained but thirty dead warriors and all their children, murdered
during the night to prevent their cries betraying the retreat.

New Archangel, as it was called, was built on the site of the present
Sitka.  Sixteen short and forty-two long cannon mounted the walls.  As
many as seven hundred officers and men were sometimes on garrison duty.
Twelve officers frequently dined at the governor's table; and here, in
spite of bishops and priests and deacons who later came on the ground,
the revellers of the Russian fur hunters held high carnival.
Thirty-six forts and twelve vessels the Russian American fur hunters
owned twenty years after the loss of Sitka.  New Archangel became more
important to the Pacific than San Francisco.  Nor was it a mistake to
move the capital so far south.  Within a few years Russian traders and
their Indians were north as far as the Yukon, south hunting sea-otter
as far as Santa Barbara.  To enumerate but a few of the American
vessels that yearly hunted sea-otter for the Russians southward of
Oregon and California, taking in pay skins of the seal islands, would
fill a coasting list.  Rezanoff, who had failed to open the embassy to
Japan and so came across to America, spent two months in Monterey and
San Francisco trying to arrange with the Spaniards to supply the
Russians with provisions.  He was received coldly by the Spanish
governor till {315} a love affair sprang up with the daughter of the
don, so ardent that the Russian must depart post-haste across Siberia
for the Czar's sanction to the marriage.  Worn out by the midwinter
journey, he died on his way across Siberia.

[Illustration: Sitka from the Sea.]

Later, in 1812, when the Russian coasters were refused watering
privileges at San Francisco, the Russian American Company bought land
near Bodega, and settled their famous Ross, or California colony, with
cannon, barracks, arsenal, church, workshops, and sometimes a
population of eight hundred Kadiak Indians.  Here provisions were
gathered for Sitka, and hunters despatched for sea-otter of the south.
The massacres on the Yukon and the clashes with the Hudson's Bay
traders are a story by themselves.  The other doings of these "Sea
Voyagers" became matters of international history when they tried to
exclude American and British traders from the Pacific.  The fur hunters
in the main were only carrying out the far-reaching plans of Shelikoff,
who originated the charter for the company; but even Shelikoff could
hardly foresee that the country which the Russian government was
willing to sell to the United States in 1867 for seven million dollars,
would produce more than twice that during a single year in gold.
To-day all that remains to Russia of these sea voyagers' plundering are
two small islands, Copper and Bering in Bering Sea.

[1] Coxe and Müller are the two great authorities on the early Russian
fur trade.  Data on later days can be found in abundance in
Krusenstern's _Voyage_, London, 1813; Kohl's _History_, London, 1862;
Langsdorff's _Travels_, London, 1813; Stejneger's _Contributions to
Smithsonian_, 1884, and _Report on Commander Islands_; Elliott's _Our
Arctic Province_; Dall's _Alaska_; Veniaminof's _Letters on Aleutians_;
Cleveland's _Voyages_, 1842, Nordenskjöld's _Voyage of the Vega_;
Macfie's _Vancouver Island_; Ivan Petroff's _Report on Alaska_, 1880;
Lisiansky's _Voyage Round the World_; Sauer's _Geographical Account of
Expedition to Northern Parts_; Kotzebue's _Voyages of Discovery_, 1819,
and _New Voyage_, 1831; Chappe d'Auteroche's _Siberia_ and
Kracheninnikof's _Kamchatka_, 1764; Simpson's _Voyage Round World_,
1847; Burney's _Voyages_; Gmelin's _Siberia_, Paris, 1767; Greenhow's
_Oregon_; Pallas's _Northern Settlements_; Broughton's _Voyage_, 1804;
Berg's _Aleutian Islands_; Bancroft's _Alaska_; _Massa. Hist. Coll._,
1793-1795; _U. S. Congressional Reports_ from 1867; Martin's _Hudson's
Bay Territories_, London, 1849.

[2] Over one hundred American ships had been on the Pacific coast of
America before 1812.

[3] Rezanoff married the fur trader's daughter.  The bride did not live
long, nor does the union seem to have been a love affair; as Rezanoff's
infatuation with the daughter of a Spanish don later seemed to indicate
a heart-free lover.

[4] See Chapter XII.





Baranof lays the Foundations of Russian Empire on the Pacific Coast of
America--Shipwrecked on his Way to Alaska, he yet holds his Men in Hand
and turns the Ill-hap to Advantage--How he bluffs the Rival Fur
Companies in Line--First Russian Ship built in America--Adventures
leading the Sea-otter Hunters--Ambushed by the Indians--The Founding of
Sitka--Baranof, cast off in his Old Age, dies of Broken Heart

No wilder lord of the wild northland ever existed than that old madcap
Viking of the Pacific, Alexander Baranof, governor of the Russian fur
traders.  For thirty years he ruled over the west coast of America from
Alaska to southern California despotic as a czar.  And he played the
game single-handed, no retinue but convicts from Siberia, no subjects
but hostile Indians.

Whether leading the hunting brigades of a thousand men over the sea in
skin canoes light as cork, or rallying his followers ambushed by
hostiles repelling invasion of their hunting-ground, or drowning
hardships with seas of fiery Russian brandy in midnight carousals,
Baranof was supreme autocrat.  Drunk or {317} sober, he was master of
whatever came, mutineers or foreign traders planning to oust Russians
from the coast of America.  Baranof stood for all that was best and all
that was worst in that heroic period of Pacific coast history when
adventurers from all corners of the earth roamed the otter-hunting
grounds in quest of fortune.  Each man was a law unto himself.  There
was fear of neither man nor devil.  The whole era might have been a
page from the hero epic of prehistoric days when earth was young, and
men ranged the seas unhampered by conscience or custom, magnificent
beasts of prey, glorying in freedom and bloodshed and the warring

[Illustration: Alexander Baranof.]

Yet in person Baranof was far from a hero.  He was wizened, sallow,
small, a margin of red hair round a head bald as a bowl, grotesque
under a black wig tied on with a handkerchief.  And he had gone up in
life much the way a monkey climbs, by shifts and scrambles and
prehensile hoists with frequent falls.  It was an ill turn of fortune
that sent him to America in the first place.  He had been managing a
glass factory at Irkutsk, Siberia, where the endless caravans of fur
traders passed.  Born at Kargopol, East Russia, in 1747, he had drifted
to Moscow, set up in a shop for himself at twenty-four, failed in
business, and emigrated to Siberia at thirty-five.  Tales of profit in
the fur trade were current at Irkutsk.  Tired of stagnating in what was
an absolutely safe but unutterably monotonous life, Baranof left the
factory and invested all his {318} savings in the fur trade to the
Indians of northern Siberia and Kamchatka.  For some years all went
well.  Baranof invested deeper, borrowing for his ventures.  Then the
Chukchee Indians swooped down on his caravans, stampeded the pack
horses, scuttled the goods, and Baranof was a bankrupt.  The rival fur
companies on the west coast of America were now engaged in the merry
game of cutting each other's throats--literally and without restraint.
A strong hand was needed--a hand that could weld the warring elements
into one, and push Russian trade far down from Alaska to New Spain,
driving off the field those foreigners whose relentless
methods--liquor, bludgeon, musket--were demoralizing the Indian
sea-otter hunters.

Destitute and bankrupt, Baranof was offered one-sixth of the profits to
become governor of the chief Russian company.  On August 10, 1790,
about the same time that John Jacob Astor also embarked in the fur
trade that was to bring him in contact with the Russians, Baranof
sailed to America.

Fifty-two men the ragamuffin crew numbered, exiles, convicts, branded
criminals, raggedly clad and ill-fed, sleeping wherever they could on
the littered and vermin-infested decks; for what did the lives of a
convict crew matter?  Below decks was crammed to the waterline with
goods for trade.  All thought for furs, small care for men; and a few
days out from port, the water-casks were found to be leaking so badly
that allowance {319} of drinking water was reduced; and before the
equinoctial gales, scurvy had already disabled the crew.  Baranof did
not turn back, nor allow the strong hand of authority to relax over his
men as poor Bering had.  He ordered all press of sail, and with the
winds whistling through the rigging and the little ship straining to
the smashing seas, did his best to outspeed disease, sighting the long
line of surf-washed Aleutian Islands in September, coasting from
headland to headland, keeping well offshore for fear of reefs till the
end of the month, when compelled to turn in to the mid-bay of Oonalaska
for water.  There was no ignoring the danger of the landing.  A shore
like the walls of a giant rampart with reefs in the teeth of a saw,
lashed to a fury by beach combers, offered poor escape from death by
scurvy.  Nevertheless, Baranof effected anchorage at Koshigin Bay, sent
the small boats ashore for water, watched his chance of a seaward
breeze, and ran out to sea again in one desperate effort to reach
Kadiak, the headquarters of the fur traders, before winter.  Outside
the shelter of the harbor, wind and seas met the ship.  She was driven
helpless as a chip in a whirlpool straight for the granite rocks of the
shore, where she smashed to pieces like the broken staves of a dry
water-barrel.  Led by the indomitable Baranof, who seemed to meet the
challenge of the very elements, the half-drowned crew crawled ashore
only to be ordered to save the cargo now rolling up in the wave wash.

{320} When darkness settled over the sea on the last night of
September, Baranof was in the same predicament as Bering--a castaway
for the winter on a barren island.  Instead of sinking under the
redoubled blows of an adverse fate, the little Russian rebounded like a
rubber ball.  A messenger and some Indians were at once despatched in a
skin boat to coast from island to island in an effort to get help from
Kadiak.  Meanwhile Baranof did not sit lamenting with folded hands; and
well that he did not; for his messengers never reached Kadiak.

Holes were at once scooped out of the sand, and the caves roofed over
with the remnants of the wreck.  These underground huts on an island
destitute of wood were warmer than surface cabins, and better withstood
the terrible north winds that swept down from the Arctic with such
force that for two months at a time the men could go outside only by
crawling under shelter of the boulders.  Ammunition was distributed to
the fifty castaways; salmon bought from the Indians, whom Baranof's
fair treatment won from the first; once a week, rye meal was given out
for soup; and for the rest, the men had to depend on the eggs of
sea-birds, that flocked over the precipitous shores in myriads, or on
the sea-lions roaring till the surf shook on the rocky islets along the

If there is one characteristic more than another that proves a man
master of destiny, it is ability not only to meet misfortune but to
turn it to advantage when it {321} comes.  While waiting for the rescue
that never came, Baranof studied the language of the Aleuts, sent his
men among them to learn to hunt, rode out to sea in their frail skin
boats lashed abreast to keep from swamping during storm, slept at night
on the beach with no covering but the overturned canoes, and, sharing
every hardship, set traps with his own hands.  When the weather was too
boisterous for hunting, he set his people boiling salt from sea-water
to dry supplies of fish for the summer, or replenishing their ragged
clothes by making coats of birds' skin.  The last week before Easter,
provisions were so low the whole crew were compelled to indulge in a
Lenten fast; but on Easter Monday, behold a putrid whale thrown ashore
by the storm!  The fast was followed by a feast.  The winds subsided,
and hunters brought in sea-lions.

It was quite apparent now no help was coming from Kadiak.  Baranof had
three large boats made of skin and wreckage.  One he left with the men,
who were to guard the remnants of the cargo.  A second he despatched
with twenty-six men.  In the third he himself embarked, now in a raging
fever from the exposure of the winter.  A year all but a month from the
time he had left Asia, Baranof reached Three Saints, Kadiak, on June
27, 1791.

Things were black enough when Baranof landed at Kadiak.  The settlement
of Three Saints had been depending on the supplies of his wrecked ship;
and {322} when he arrived, himself in need, discontent flared to open
mutiny.  Five different rival companies had demoralized the Indians by
supplying them with liquor, and egging them on to raid other traders.
Southward, toward Nootka, were hosts of foreign ships--Gray and
Kendrick and Ingraham from Boston, Vancouver from England, Meares from
East India, Quadra from New Spain, private ventures outfitted by Astor
from New York.  If Russia were to preserve her hunting-grounds, no time
should be lost.

Baranof met the difficulties like a commander of guerilla warfare.
Brigades were sent eastward to the fishing-ground of Cook's Inlet for
supplies.  Incipient mutiny was quelled by sending more hunters off
with Ismyloff to explore new sea-otter fields in Prince William Sound.
As for the foreign fur traders, he conceived the brilliant plan of
buying food from them in exchange for Russian furs and of supplying
them with brigades of Aleut Island hunters to scour the Pacific for
sea-otter from Nootka and the Columbia to southern California.  This
would not only add to stores of Russian furs, but push Russian dominion
southward, and keep other nations off the field.

That it was not all plain sailing on a summer day may be inferred from
one incident.  He had led out a brigade of several hundred canoes,
Indians and Russians, to Nuchek Island, off Prince William Sound.
Though he had tried to win the friendship of the coast Indians by
gifts, it was necessary to steal from point {323} to point at night,
and to hide at many places as he coasted the mainland.  Throwing up
some sort of rough barricade at Nuchek Island, he sent the most of his
men off to fish and remained with only sixteen Aleuts and Russians.  It
was perfectly natural that the Alaskan Indians should resent the Aleuts
intruding on the hunting-grounds of the main coast, one thousand miles
from the Aleutian Islands.  Besides, the mainland Indians had now
learned unscrupulous brutality from foreign traders.  Baranof knew his
danger and never relaxed vigilance.  Of the sixteen men, five always
stood sentry at night.

The night of June 20 was pitch dark.  Terrific seas were running, and a
tempest raged through the woods of the mainland.  For safety,
Ismyloff's ship had scudded to the offing.  Baranof had undressed,
thrown himself down in his cabin, and was in the deep sleep of outdoor
exhaustion, when above the howling of the gale, not five steps away, so
close it was impossible to distinguish friend from foe in the darkness,
arose the shrill war-cry of hostiles.  Leaping to his feet, Baranof
rushed out undressed.  His shirt was torn to shreds by a shower of
flint and copper-head arrows.  In the dark, the Russians could only
fire blindly.  The panic-stricken Aleuts dashed for their canoes to
escape to Ismyloff's ship.  Ismyloff sent armed Russians through the
surf wash and storm to Baranof's aid.  Baranof kept his small cannon
pounding hot shot where the shouts sounded till daylight.  Of the
sixteen men, two {324} Russians and nine Aleuts were dead.  Of the men
who came to his aid, fifteen were wounded.  The corpses of twelve
hostiles lay on the beach; and as gray dawn came over the tempestuous
sea, six large war canoes vanished into the morning mist, a long trail
of blood over the waves showing that the hostiles were carrying off
their wounded.  Well might Baranof write, "I will vanquish a cruel
fate; or fall under its repeated blows."  The most of men would have
thought they had sufficient excuse to justify backing out of their
difficulties.  Baranof locked grapples with the worst that destiny
could do; and never once let go.  Sometimes the absolute futility of so
much striving, so much hardship, so much peril, all for the sake of the
crust of bread that represents mere existence, sent him down to black
depths of rayless despondency, when he asked himself, was life worth
while?  But he never let go his grip, his sense of resistance, his
impulse to fight the worst, the unshunnable obligation of being alive
and going on with the game, succeed or fail.  Such fits of despair
might end in wild carousals, when he drank every Russian under the
table, outshouted the loudest singer, and perhaps wound up by throwing
the roomful of revellers out of doors.  But he rose from the depths of
debauch and despair, and went on with the game.  That was the main

The terrible position to which loss of supplies had reduced the traders
of Kadiak when his own vessel {325} was wrecked at Oonalaska on the way
out, demonstrated to Baranof the need of more ships; so when orders
came from his company in 1793 to construct a sailing boat on the
timberless island of Kadiak without iron, without axes, without saw,
without tar, without canvas, he was eager to attempt the impossible.
Shields, an Englishman, in the employment of Russia, was to act as
shipbuilder; and Baranof sent the men assigned for the work up to
Sunday Harbor on the west side of Prince William Sound, where heavy
forests would supply timber and the tide-rush help to launch the vessel
from the skids.  There were no saws in the settlement.  Planks had to
be hewn out of logs.  Iron, there was none.  The rusty remnants of old
wrecks were gathered together for bolts and joints and axes.  Spruce
gum mixed with blubber oil took the place of oakum and tar below the
water-line.  Moss and clay were used as calking above water.  For sail
cloth, there was nothing but shreds and rags and tatters of canvas
patched together so that each mast-arm looked like Joseph's coat of
many colors.  Seventy-nine feet from stem to stern, the crazy craft
measured, of twenty-three feet beam, thirteen draught, one hundred
tons, two decks, and three masts.  All the winter of 1792-1793, just a
year after Robert Gray, the American, had built his sloop down at Fort
Defence off Vancouver Island, the Russian shipbuilding went on.  Then
in April, lest the poverty of the Russians should become known to
foreign traders, Baranof sent Shields, the English {326} shipbuilder,
off out of the way, on an otter-hunting venture.  It was August of the
next summer before the clumsy craft slipped from the skids into the
rising tide.  She was so badly ballasted that she bobbled like cork;
and her sails so frail they flew to tatters in the gentlest wind; but
Russia had accomplished her first ship in America.  Bells were set
ringing when the _Phoenix_ was towed into the harbor of Kadiak; and
when she reached Okhotsk laden with furs to the water-line in April of
1794, enthusiasm knew no bounds.  Salvos of artillery thundered over
her sails, and mass was chanted, and a polish of paint given to her
piebald, rickety sides that transformed her into what the fur company
proudly regarded as a frigate.  Before the year was out, Baranof had
his men at work on two more vessels.  There was to be no more crippling
of trade for lack of ships.

But a more serious matter than shipbuilding demanded Baranof's
attention.  Rival fur companies were on the ground.  Did one party of
traders establish a fort on Cook's Inlet?  Forthwith came another to a
point higher up the inlet, where Indians could be intercepted.  There
followed warlike raids, the pillaging of each other's forts, the
capture of each other's Indian hunters, the utter demoralization of the
Indians by each fort forbidding the savages to trade at the other, the
flogging and bludgeoning and butchering of those who disobeyed the
order--and finally, the forcible abduction of whole villages of women
and children to compel the alliance of the hunters.  All Baranof's work
to {327} pacify the hostiles of the mainland was being undone; and what
complicated matters hopelessly for him was the fact that the
shareholders of his own company were also shareholders in the rival
ventures.  Baranof wrote to Siberia for instructions, urging the
amalgamation of all the companies in one; but instructions were so long
in coming that the fur trade was being utterly bedevilled and the
passions of the savages inflamed to a point of danger for every white
man on the North Pacific.  Affairs were at this pass when Konovalof,
the dashing leader of the plunderers, planned to capture Baranof
himself, and seize the shipyard at Sunday Harbor, on Prince William
Sound.  Baranof had one hundred and fifty fighting Russians in his
brigades.  Should he wait for the delayed instructions from Siberia?
While he hesitated, some of the shipbuilders were ambushed in the
woods, robbed, beaten, and left half dead.  Baranof could not afford to
wait.  He had no more legal justification for his act than the
plunderers had for theirs; but it was a case where a man must step
outside law, or be exterminated.  Rallying his men round him and taking
no one into his confidence, the doughty little Russian sent a formal
messenger to Konovalof, the bandit, at his redoubt on Cook's Inlet,
pompously summoning him in the name of the governor of Siberia to
appear and answer for his misdeeds.  To the brigand, the summons was a
bolt out of the blue.  How was he to know not a word had come from the
governor of Siberia, and the summons {328} was sheer bluff?  He was so
terrorized at the long hand of power reaching across the Pacific to
clutch him back to perhaps branding or penal service in Siberia, that
he did not even ask to see Baranof's documents.  Coming post-haste, he
offered explanations, excuses, frightened pleadings.  Baranof would
have none of him.  He clapped the culprit and associates in irons, put
them on Ismyloff's vessel, and despatched them for trial to Siberia.
That he also seized the furs of his rivals for safe keeping, was a mere
detail.  The prisoners were, of course, discharged; for Baranof's
conduct could no more bear scrutiny than their own; but it was one way
to get rid of rivals; and the fur companies at war in the Canadian
northwest practised the same method twenty years later.

The effect of the bandit outrages on the hostile Indians of the
mainland was quickly evident.  Baranof realized that if he was to hold
the Pacific coast for his company, he must push his hunting brigades
east and south toward New Spain.  A convict colony, that was to be the
nucleus of a second St. Petersburg, was planned to be built under the
very shadow of Mount St. Elias.  Shields, the Englishman employed by
Russia, after bringing back two thousand sea-otter from Bering Bay in
1793, had pushed on down south-eastward to Norfolk Sound or the modern
Sitka, where he loaded a second cargo of two thousand sea-otter.  A
dozen foreign traders had already coasted Alaskan shores, and southward
of Norfolk Sound was a flotilla {329} of American fur traders, yearly
encroaching closer and closer on the Russian field.  All fear of
rivalry among the Russians had been removed by the union of the
different companies in 1799.  Baranof pulled his forces together for
the master stroke that was to establish Russian dominion on the
Pacific.  This was the removal of the capital of Russian America
farther south.

On the second week of April, 1799, with two vessels, twenty-two
Russians, and three hundred and fifty canoes of Aleut fur hunters,
Baranof sailed from Prince William Sound for the southeast.  Pause was
made early in May opposite Kyak--Bering's old landfall--to hunt
sea-otter.  The sloops hung on the offing, the hunting brigades, led by
Baranof in one of the big skin canoes, paddling for the surf wash and
kelp fields of the boisterous, rocky coast, which sea-otter frequent in
rough weather.  Dangers of the hunt never deterred Baranof.  The wilder
the turmoil of spray and billows, the more sea-otter would be driven to
refuge on the kelp fields.  Cross tides like a whirlpool ran on this
coast when whipped by the winds.  Not a sound from the sea-otter
hunters!  Silently, like sea-birds glorying in the tempest, the canoes
bounded from crest to crest of the rolling seas, always taking care not
to be caught broadsides by the smashing combers, or swamped between
waves in the churning seas.  How it happened is not known, but somehow
between wind and tide-rip, thirty of the canoes {330} that rode over a
billow and swept down to the trough never came up.  A flaw of wind had
caught the mountain billows; the sixty hunters went under.  From where
he was, Baranof saw the disaster, saw the terror of the other two
hundred men, saw the rising storm, and at a glance measured that it was
farther back to the sloops than on towards the dangerous shore.  The
sea-otter hunt was forgotten in the impending catastrophe to the entire
brigade.  Signal and shout confused in the thunder of the surf ordered
the men to paddle for their lives inshore.  Night was coming on.  The
distance was longer than Baranof had thought, and it was dark before
the brigades landed, and the men flung themselves down, totally
exhausted, to sleep on the drenched sands.

Barely were the hunters asleep when the shout of Kolosh Indians from
the forests behind told of ambush.  The mainland hostiles resenting
this invasion of their hunting-fields, had watched the storm drive the
canoes to land.  On one side was the tempest, on the other the forest
thronged with warriors.  The Aleuts lost their heads and dashed for
hiding in the woods, only to find certain death.  Baranof and the
Russians with him fired off their muskets till all powder was used.
Then they shouted in the Aleut dialect for the hunters to embark.  The
sea was the lesser danger.  By morning the brigades had joined the
sloops on the offing.  Thirteen more canoes had been lost in the ambush.

{331} Such was the inauspicious introduction for Baranof to the
founding of the new Russian fort at Sitka or Norfolk Sound.  It was the
end of May before the brigades glided into the sheltered, shadowy
harbor, where Chirikoff's men had been lost fifty years before.  A
furious storm of snow and sleet raged over the harbor.  When the storm
cleared, impenetrable forests were seen to the water-line, and great
trunks of trees swirled out to sea.  On the ocean side to the west,
Mount Edgecumbe towered up a dome of snow.  Eastward were the bare
heights of Verstovoi; and countless tiny islets gilded by the sun
dotted the harbor.  Baranof would have selected the site of the present
Sitka, high, rocky and secure from attack, but the old Sitkan chief
refused to sell it, bartering for glass beads and trinkets a site some
miles north of the present town.

Half the men were set to hunting and fishing, half to chopping logs for
the new fort built in the usual fashion, with high palisades, a main
barracks a hundred feet long in the centre, three stories high, with
trap-doors connecting each story, cabins and hutches all round the
inside of the palisades.  Lanterns hung at the masthead of the sloops
to recall the brigades each night; for Captain Cleveland, a Boston
trader anchored in the harbor, forewarned Baranof of the Indians'
treacherous character, more dangerous now when demoralized by the
rivalry of white traders, and in possession of the civilized man's
weapons.  Free distribution of liquor by unscrupulous sea-captains did
not mend {332} matters.  Cleveland reported that the savages had so
often threatened to attack his ship that he no longer permitted them on
board; concealing the small number of his crew by screens of hides
round the decks, trading only at a wicket with cannon primed and
muskets bristling through the hides above the taffrail.  He warned
Baranof's hunters not to be led off inland bear hunting, for the bear
hunt might be a Sitkan Indian in decoy to trap the hunters into an
ambush.  Such a decoy had almost trapped Cleveland's crew, when other
Indians were noticed in ambush.  The new fort was christened Archangel.

All went well as long as Baranof was on the ground.  Sea-otter were
obtained for worthless trinkets.  Sentries paraded the gateway; so
Baranof sailed back to Kadiak.  The Kolosh or Sitkan tribes had only
bided their time.  That sleepy summer day of June, 1802, when the
slouchy Siberian convicts were off guard and Baranof two thousand miles
away, the Indians fell on the fort and at one fell swoop wiped it
out.[1]  Up at Kadiak honors were showering on the little governor.
Two decorations of nobility he had been given by 1804; but his grief
over the loss of Sitka was inconsolable.  "I will either die or restore
the fort!" he vowed, and with the help of a Russian man-of-war sent
round the world, he sailed that summer into Sitka Sound.  The Indians
scuttled their barricade erected on the site of the present Sitka.
Here {333} the fort was rebuilt and renamed New Archangel--a fort
worthy in its palmy days of Baranof's most daring ambitions.  Sixty
Russian officers and eight hundred white families lived within the
walls, with a retinue of two or three thousand Indian otter hunters
cabined along the beach.  There was a shipyard.  There was a foundry
for the manufacture of the great brass bells sold for chapels in New
Spain.  There were archbishops, priests, deacons, schools.  At the hot
springs twenty miles away, hospitals and baths were built.  A library
and gallery of famous paintings were added to the fort, though Baranof
complained it would have been wiser to have physicians for his men.
For the rest of Baranof's rule, Sitka became the great rendezvous of
vessels trading on the Pacific.  Here Baranof held sway like a
potentate, serving regal feasts to all visitors with the pomp of a
little court, and the barbarity of a wassailing mediaeval lord.

But all this was not so much fireworks for display.  Baranof had his
motive.  To the sea-captains who feasted with him and drank themselves
torpid under his table, he proposed a plan--he would supply the Aleut
hunters for them to hunt on shares as far south as southern California.
Always, too, he was an eager buyer of their goods, giving them in
exchange seal-skins from the Seal Islands.  Boston vessels were the
first to enter partnership with Baranof.  Later came Astor's captains
from New York, taking sealskins in trade for goods supplied to the

{334} How did Baranof, surrounded by hostile Indians, with no servants
but Siberian convicts, hold his own single-handed in American wilds?
Simply by the power of his fitness, by vigilance that never relaxed, by
despotism that was by turns savage and gentle, but always paternal, by
the fact that his brain and his brawn were always more than a match for
the brain and brawn of all the men under him.  To be sure, the liberal
measure of seventy-nine lashes was laid on the back of any subordinate
showing signs of mutiny, but that did not prevent many such attempts.

The most serious was in 1809.  From the time that Benyowsky, the Polish
adventurer, had sacked the garrison of Kamchatka, Siberian convicts
serving in America dreamed of similar exploits.  Peasants and officers,
a score in number, all convicts from Siberia, had plotted to rise in
New Archangel or Sitka, assassinate the governor, seize ships and
provisions, and sailing to some of the South Sea Islands, set up an
independent government.  The signal was to be given when Naplavkof, an
officer who was master plotter, happened to be on duty.  On such good
terms was the despot, Baranof, with his men, that the plot was betrayed
to him from half a dozen sources.  It did not trouble Baranof.  He sent
the betrayers a keg of brandy, bade one of them give a signal by
breaking out in drunken song, and at the sound himself burst into the
roomful of conspirators, sword in hand, {335} followed by half a
hundred armed soldiers.  The plotters were handcuffed and sent back to

There was something inexcusably cruel in the termination of Baranof's
services with the fur company.  He was now over seventy years of age.
He was tortured by rheumatism from the long years of exposure in a damp
climate.  Because he was not of noble birth, though he had received
title of nobility, he was subject to insults at the hands of any petty
martinet who came out as officer on the Russian vessels.  Against these
Baranof usually held his own at Sitka, but they carried back to St.
Petersburg slanderous charges against his honesty.  Twice he had asked
to be allowed to resign.  Twice successors had been sent from Russia;
but one died on the way, and the other was shipwrecked.  It was easy
for malignant tongues to rouse suspicion that Baranof's desire to
resign sprang from interested motives, perhaps from a wish to conceal
his own peculations.  Though Baranof had annually handled millions of
dollars' worth of furs for the Russian Company, at a distance from
oversight that might have defied detection in wrong-doing, it was
afterwards proved that he had not misused or misappropriated one dime's
worth of property; but who was to believe his honesty in the face of
false charges?

In the fall of 1817 Lieutenant Hagemeister arrived at Sitka to audit
the books of the company.  Concealing from Baranof the fact that he was
to be deposed, {336} Hagemeister spent a year investigating the
records.  Not a discrepancy was discovered.  Baranof, with the
opportunity to have made millions, was a poor man.  Without
explanation, Hagemeister then announced the fact--Baranof was to be
retired.  Between voluntarily retiring and being retired was all the
difference between honor and insult.  The news was a blow that crushed
Baranof almost to senility.  He was found doddering and constantly in
tears.  Again and again he bade good-by to his old comrades, comrades
of revel with noble blood in their veins, comrades of the hunt,
pure-blooded Indians, who loved him as a brother, comrades of his
idleness, Indian children with whom he had frolicked--but he could not
bear to tear himself from the land that was the child of his lifelong
efforts.  The blow had fallen when he was least able to bear it.  His
nerve was gone.  Of all the Russian wreckages in this cruel new land,
surely this wreck was the most pitiable--the maker deposed by the thing
he had made, cast out by his child, driven to seek some hidden place
where he might die out of sight.  An old sea-captain offered him
passage round the world to Russia, where his knowledge might still be
of service.  Service?  That was the word!  The old war-horse pricked up
his ears!  Baranof sailed in the fall of 1818.  By spring the ship
homeward-bound stopped at Batavia.  There was some delay.  Delay was
not good for Baranof.  He was ill, deadly ill, of that most deadly of
all ailments, heartbreak, {337} consciousness that he was of no more
use, what the Indians call "the long sickness of too much thinking."
When the vessel put out to sea again, Baranof, too, put to sea, but it
was to the boundless sea of eternity.  He died on April 16, 1819, and
was laid to rest in the arms of the great ocean that had cradled his
hopes from the time he left Siberia.

To pass judgment on Baranof's life would be a piece of futility.  His
life, like the lives of all those Pacific coast adventurers, stands or
falls by what it was, not what it meant to be; by what it did, not what
it left undone; and what Baranof left was an empire half the size of
Russia.  That his country afterward lost that empire was no fault of
his.  Like all those Vikings of the North Pacific, he was essentially a
man _who did things_, not a theorizer on how things ought to be done,
not a slug battening on the things other men have done.

They were not anaemic, these old "sea voyagers" of the Pacific, daring
death or devil, with the red blood of courage in their veins, and the
red blood of a lawless manhood, too.  They were not men of milk and
water type, with little good and less bad.  Neither their virtues nor
their vices were lukewarm; but _they did things_, these men; added to
the sum total of human effort, human knowledge, human progress.  Sordid
their motives may have been, sordid as the blacksmith's when he smashes
his sledge on the anvil; but from the anvil of their hardships, from
the clash of the {338} primordial warfare between the Spirit of the
Elements and the Spirit of Man, struck out some sparks of the Divine.
There was the courage as dauntless in the teeth of the gale as in the
face of death.  There was the yearning to know More, to seek it, to
follow it over earth's ends, though the quest led to the abyss of a
watery grave.  What did they want, these fool fellows, following the
rushlight of their own desires?  That is just it.  They didn't know
what they sought, but they knew there was something just beyond to be
sought, something new to be known; and because Man is Man, they set out
on the quest of the unknown, chancing life and death for the sake of a
little gain to human progress.  It is the spirit of the heroic ages,
and to that era belongs the history of the Vikings on the North Pacific.

[1] See Chapter XI.



Adakh Island, Chirikoff at, 51.

Admiralty Inlet, explored, 270-271.

_Adventure_, first American ship built on Pacific, 233, 234, 238, 325.

Alaska, Bering's expedition on coast of, 26 ff.; Chirikoff's arrival at,
50-51; Benyowsky's visit to, 125; Cook explores coast of, 189-194; Gray's
trip to, 238; Vancouver's survey of southern coast of, 286-290; Baranof's
career in, 318-337.  _See_ Sitka.

Aleutian Islands, Bering's voyage of discovery among, 26-41; sea-otter's
habitat on, 42, 53, 56, 63, 66-67, 69-70, 82-83; fur hunters of the,
67-78, 81-84, 321-323, 328-330.

Aleut Indians, as otter-hunters, 69-78; harsh treatment of, by Russians,
79, 8l-88; Russian hunters massacred by, 91-95, 100-104; punishment of,
105; in Sitka massacre, 307-310, 332; accompany Baranof on voyage of
vengeance, 311-314; with Baranof in Prince William Sound, 322 ff.

Alexander Archipelago, Chirikoff in the, 46-52.

Alexis, Aleut Indian boy hostage, 98, 99, 102.

Anderson, Dr., with Cook, 193.

Anian, Straits of, 9, 279 n.

Anton, Juan de, captain of _Glory of the South Seas_, 158 n.

Apraxin, Count, 8 n.

Archangel Michael, modern Sitka once named, 306; founding of, by Baranof,
306, 331-332; massacre at, 307-310, 332.

Arguello, Don Joseph, 241.

Aricara, Drake at, 155.

Astor, John Jacob, 65, 212, 303, 318, 322, 333.

Athabasca Lake, attempt to identify, with Northwest Passage, 174, 175.

Atka, otter grounds at, 69.

Atto, Hawaiian boy, 229, 233, 240.

Attoo, village in, destroyed by Russian fur hunters, 83.

Auteroche, Chappe d', cited, 295.

Avacha Bay, Bering at, 17, 19, 23; survivors of Bering expedition return
to, 59-60; vessels of Cook's expedition at, 208.


Baker, lieutenant in Vancouver's expedition, 266, 270.

Baker, Mount, 270.

Balboa, 134, 144.

Baltimore, Benyowsky visits, 127.

Bancroft, Hubert Howe, cited, 241, 290, 295.

Baranof, Alexander, governor of Russian American Fur Company, 67, 167 n.,
288, 301, 304, 306, 310; character of, 316-317; personal appearance of,
317; early career of, 317-318; sails to America (1790), 318; wrecked on
Oonalaska, 319-320; builds boat and reaches Kadiak, 321; defeats hostile
Indians at Nuchek Island, 323-324; establishes fort at Sitka, 331; loses
fort by Sitka massacre, but rebuilds and founds New Archangel (modern
Sitka), 332-333; in old age deposed from governorship, 335-336; death of,

Baranof Castle, Sitka, 301.

Barber, Captain, at Sitka, 310.

Barclay, English sea-captain, 224, 227, 254, 264, 272.

Barnes, sailor with Gray, 230.

Barrell, Joseph, 211, 215, 229, 241.

Bassof, otter hunter, 82-83.

Begg, cited, 290 n.

Behm, Major, 196, 208.

Behm Canal, 286.

Benyowsky, Mauritius, Polish exile to Kamchatka, 108-110; career of, at
Bolcheresk, 113-122; escapes to sea on pirate cruise, 122; meets Ochotyn
at Bering Island, 123-124; visits Alaska, 125; adventures of, in Luzon,
Formosa, and China, 126-127; holds French commission in Madagascar, 137;
returns to Europe, goes to Baltimore, and is sent on filibustering
expedition to Madagascar, 127; death of, 127-128; authorities for, 128 n.

Berg, cited, 11 n., 22 n., 129, 295.

Bering, Anna, 8 n.

Bering, Jonas, 8 n.

Bering, Thomas, 22 n.

Bering, Unos, 22.

Bering, Vitus Ivanovich, birth and early history of, 8; commissioned by
Peter the Great to explore waters between Russia and America, 8-10; first
expedition of (1725-1730), 10-12; second expedition undertaken by, 12;
difficulties of, with scientists about "Gamaland," 13-15, 19, 22, 24;
arrival of expedition of, at Okhotsk, 16; start of, from Avacha Bay,
Kamchatka (1741), 17; cruise of, in _St. Peter_, 22-45; landfall at Kyak
Island, 26-27, 47 n.; Mt. St. Elias discovered by, 26; exploration of
coast of Alaskan peninsula by, 28-36; forced to winter at Commander
Islands, 35-36; death of, 54; summary of work of, 55-56, 61; conclusions
of, rejected by scientists, 172-173; mentioned in connection with other
explorers, 183, 184 n., 239, 263, 264; Cook verifies conclusions of,

Bering Bay, 288.

Bering Island, 37-45, 97, 123-124, 300, 315.

Betshevin, Siberian merchant, 84, 87.

Bidarkas, fur hunters' boats, 67.

Billings, Joseph, 254, 258, 259-261.

Boit, John, 230.

Bolcheresk, capital of Kamchatka, 113-114; description of, 114;
Benyowsky's career at, 114-122.

Boston, interest at, in Gray's expeditions, 215-216, 229-230, 240-241.

"Bostons" (_Bostonnais_), Indians call all Americans, 210.

Brazil, Drake's lost sailors in, 152.

Bristol Bay, 193.

Broughton, Lieutenant, 266, 271, 279, 280, 281; _Voyage_ by, cited, 295 n.

Brown, Samuel, of Boston, 211, 229.

Brown, Dr. William, Ledyard travels with, 258-259.

Bulfinch, Charles, 211, 212; daughter of, named "Columbia," 240.

Bulfinch, Dr., of Boston, 211, 241.

Burney, _Voyages_ by, 295 n.

Burrard Inlet, 273.

Burroughs, John, cited, 72 n.

Bute Inlet, 274.


California, Drake's visit to, 160-165, 169-171; Vancouver's visit to,
281-282; Russian American Fur Company in, 315.

_California_, vessel for exploration, 174.

Callao, Drake sacks, 155-156.

Campbell, Dr., quoted, 172-173.

Cannibals, Cook's stay among, 187; on Portland Canal, 230.

Cape Adams, 280.

Cape Addington, 46.

Cape Disappointment, 224, 235, 267, 269, 279, 280.

Cape Douglas, 191.

Cape Elizabeth, 191.

Cape Flattery, 185, 223, 224, 235, 270.

Cape Foulweather, 184.

Cape Gregory, 184.

Cape Horn, Drake discovers, 153; Gray expedition rounds, 216-217.

Cape Khitroff, 41.

Cape Lookout, 219.

Cape Meares, 224.

Cape Perpetua, 184.

Cape Prince of Wales, 193, 208.

Captain Harbor, 300; Drusenin at, 89; Ledyard's arrival at, 250.

Carder, Peter, 152 n.

Cartier, Jacques, 272.

Caswell, Joshua, 230.

Catherine, Empress, 7.

Chaplin, Peter, 11 n.

_Chatham_, Lieutenant Broughton commands, in Vancouver cruise, 266.

Chesterfield Inlet, 174-175.

Chinook, Indian village, 281.

Chirikoff, Alexei, Bering's second in command, 11, 13, 18, 19, 20, 60;
cruise of, in the _St. Paul_, 45-53.

Christopher, Captain, 175.

_Christopher_, Drake's vessel, 147.

Christy, Silver Map of, 168.

Chukchee Indians, 5, 9, 193, 194, 318.

Clayoquot, Gray at, 227, 232-234.

Clerke, Captain, 181, 203, 206, 207, 208; death of, 209.

Cleveland, Captain, Boston trader, 295, 331-332.

Collectors of tribute, Cossack, 5, 107, 294-296, 299.

_Columbia_, vessel commanded by Captain Kendrick, on cruise to Pacific,
212-213, 215; Gray in command of, 228, 268-269.

Columbia River, Meares searches for, 224; Vancouver misses, 235, 267-268;
Heceta quoted regarding, 235-236; Gray discovers and names, 236-238, 241,
268, 269; Broughton's trip up, 280.

Commander Islands, Bering expedition at, 37-45, 61; sea-otter found on,
67, 76.

Cook, Captain James, 19, 64 n., 78, 127, 128 n., 161, 168, 222, 226, 263,
264, 265; boyhood and youth of, 176-177; seaman on Newcastle coaler, 177;
enters Royal Navy, 178-180;  before Quebec with Wolfe, 180; sent by Royal
Society on voyage to South Seas (1768-1771), 180-181; makes voyage round
the world, 181; starts on historic voyage of discovery and exploration,
181; John Ledyard's connection with expedition of, 181-182, 247; terms of
secret commission of, 182-183; Drake's "New Albion" sighted by, 184;
misses Straits of Fuca, 184-185; anchors at Nootka, 186; visits Kyak
Island, 189; in Prince William Sound, 190-191; explores Cook's Inlet,
191-192; sails along coast of Alaska to Cape Prince of Wales, and crosses
Bering Strait to Siberia, 193; verifies Bering's conclusions, 193-194;
explores Norton Sound, 195; stops at Oonalaska, 195-196; returns to
Sandwich Islands to winter, 196-197; friendly reception of, by Hawaiians,
197-199; sailors of, abuse hospitality of natives, 199-200; difficulties
of, over boat stolen by natives, 203; brave stand taken by, and death of,
203-205; authorities for, 209 n.; account of voyage of, leads to sending
out of Robert Gray, 211; Gray's work and its results compared with those
of, 239-240.

Cook's Inlet, sea-otter in, 66-67, 68, 69, 79; explored by Cook, 189-192;
Vancouver's survey of, 287-288; Russian fur traders' doings in, 326-327.

Coolidge, Davis, 214, 230.

Copper Island, 44, 97, 315.

Coquimbo, Drake at, 154.

Cortés, 133-134.

Coxe, William, cited, 61, 82, 105, 295.

Crowning of Drake by Indians, 164.


_Daedalus_, Vancouver's supply ship, 266, 282; seized by Sandwich
Islanders and two officers murdered, 284.

Da Gama, Vasco, 134.

Dall, cited, 11 n., 295.

Dartmouth College, courses for missionaries at, 244-245.

Davidson, Dr. George, x, 47 n., 162 n., 168, 290 n.

Davidson, George, member of Gray's second expedition, 230, 240, 241.

Dawson, cited, 290 n.

Dementieff, Abraham, 47-48.

Derby, John, 211, 229.

Derby Sound, 228.

Deshneff, explorer, vii, 296.

Deshon, Captain, 253-254.

_Discovery_, Vancouver's ship, 266; on rocks in Straits of Fuca, 275;
Hawaiian girls onboard of, 284-285.

_Discovery_, vessel commanded by Captain Clerke, in Cook's voyage, 181.

D'Isles, the, geographers, 19, 20, 52.

Distress Cove, 228.

Dixon, George, 78, 209, 227, 254, 290 n.

Dobbs, patron of exploration, 174.

_Dobbs_, vessel for exploration, 174.

Doughty, Thomas, 147; trial and execution of, 148-149, 168.

Douglas, Captain, 223-226.

_Dragon_, Drake's vessel, 140.

Drake, Francis, family and boyhood of, 139; with Hawkins in West Indies,
139; cruises Spanish Main (1570-1573), 140-141; seizes one million pounds
in silver from Spanish at Nombre de Dios, 141-142; first views Pacific
Ocean, 143-144; attacks gold train at Venta Cruz, 144-145; returns to
England, 146; Queen Elizabeth and, 146; starts on historic cruise (1577),
147; Doughty's trial and execution, 148-149, 168; enters Pacific through
Straits of Magellan, 150; driven south by storm, 151-153; discovers Cape
Horn, 153; piratical voyage of, up South American coast, 153-155;
captures _Glory of the South Seas_, 158; plans to return home by
Northeast Passage, 158-159; landfall north of California, 159-161, 168;
gives up idea of Northeast Passage, 161; visits California, 161-162, 169;
welcomed by Indians, 162-163, 169-170; crowning of, 164; calls region
"New Albion," 164; returns to England around Cape of Good Hope (1580),
165; subsequent career of, 166; death and burial of, 166-167, 171;
authorities for, 167 n.

Drake, John, 141, 142, 157.

Drake's Bay, 162, 281.

Drusenin, Alexei, otter hunter, 81, 84; winters at Oonalaska, 88-91;
murdered by natives, 91-92.


East Cape, 195, 208-209.

_Elizabeth_, Drake's vessel, 147, 148; returns to England, 152.

Elizabeth, Queen, and Drake, 146.

Elliott, cited, 72 n., 295.

Ellis, explorer, 174-175.

Equator, rites on crossing, 182, 216.

Eskimo Indians, Russian explorers hear about, 6.  _See_ Aleut _and_
Kolosh Indians.


Fages, Don Pedro, cited, 241.

Fairweather Mountains, 189.

Fletcher, Francis, Drake's chaplain, 149, 154 n., 167; chronicle of,
quoted, 161, 165, 167 n.-171 n.

Foggy Island (Ukamok), 29, 192.

Folger, sailor with Gray, 230.

Formosa, Benyowsky in, 127.

Fort Defence, 233, 325.

Franklin, Benjamin, Benyowsky's meeting with, 128 n.

Fraser River, Vancouver misses discovering, 272-273.

Friendly Cove, 276, 278.

Frobisher, Martin, 159.

Fuca, Juan de, 173, 174, 184, 264, 272; account of legend of, concerning
Northeast Passage, 275 n.

Fuca Straits.  _See_ Straits of Fuca.


Galiano, Don, 272-273.

Gama, John de, 6 n.

Gamaland, mythical continent, 6, 9, 168, 173; Bering's conclusion
concerning non-existence of, 12, 18; on D'Isles' map, 19; Bering's second
voyage in search of, 22-23; search for, relinquished, 24-25; Cook
demolishes myth of, 181.

Garret, John, 141.

_Glory of the South Seas_, Spanish galleon, 155, 156, 157; captured by
Drake, 158.

Glottoff, Stephen, 88, 96; Korovin rescued by, 104.

Gmelin, scientist, 14 n., 295 n.

_Golden Hind_, Drake renames the _Pelican_ the, 150; cruise on the
Pacific in, 151-165; end of, 166.

Gore, Cook's lieutenant, 190.

Gorelin, Russian sailor, 87, 91 n.

Gray, Robert, character of, 213; sent by Boston merchants on fur-trading
voyage to the Pacific coast, 213-214; departure of, from Boston (October,
1787), 215-216; rounds Cape Horn and reaches Drake's "New Albion,"
216-218; adventures of, in Tillamook Bay, 219-222; sails to Nootka,
222-223; meets Captains Meares and Douglas, 223-225; in spring explores
Straits of Fuca, 227, 235; takes cargo of furs to China and returns to
Boston (August, 1790), 228-229; leaves Boston on second voyage
(September, 1790), 230; winters at Clayoquot (1791-1792), 232-234; builds
sloop _Adventure_, 233, 234, 325; meets Vancouver expedition, 235,
268-270; discovers and names Columbia River (May, 1792), 236-238, 241,
268, 269; goes to China and returns to Boston (July, 1793), 238; death
of, 238; place of, among discoverers, 238-240; authorities for, 240 n.;
later mention of, 264, 272, 286, 322; Lieutenant Broughton's view of
explorations of, 280.

Gray's Harbor, 236, 241.

Greenhow, cited, 241, 290, 295.

Guatalco, Drake stops at, 159.

Gulf of Georgia, 271.

Gvozdef, discoverer, 12 n.


Hagemeister, Lieutenant, 335-336.

Hall, Sir James, and Ledyard, 256.

Hancock, Clayoquot renamed, 227.

Hancock, Governor, 229.

Harriman Expedition, the, 72 n.

Haskins, member of Gray's second expedition, 230.

Haswell, Robert, in Gray's expeditions, 214, 216, 220-222, 228, 230, 234,
240, 241.

Hatch, Captain Crowell, 211.

Hawkins, Sir John, 135-139, 166.

Hearne, Samuel, 174, 175, 181.

Heceta, Captain Bruno, 219, 241; quoted regarding Columbia River, 235-236.

Henriquez, Don Martin, 136.

Hoffman, German exile, 108-111.

Hood Canal, explored, 270-271.

Howe, Richard, accountant in Gray's expedition, 214.

Howe's Sound, 274.


Icy Cape, Cook names, 195.

Inalook Island, 90.

Indians, Californian, and Drake, 162-165, 169-171.

Ingraham, Joseph, 214, 230, 240, 322.

Isle, Louis la Croyére de l', 19, 20, 209; death of, 52.

Isle of Pinos, 141.

Ismyloff, Russian trader-spy, 118, 119, 122, 123, 124, 127, 128 n.; Cook
meets, 196; treacherous letters of, 208; Ledyard's encounters with, 251,
253, 258, 260-261; in service of Russian American Fur Company, under
Baranof, 322, 323.


Japan, charted by Martin Spanberg, 18; laws to protect the sea-otter
moved by, 67; Benyowsky's adventures in, 126-127.

Jefferson, Thomas, Ledyard and, 255, 261-262.

Jervis Canal, 274.

Johnstone, with Vancouver, 266, 271, 273, 275.

Jokai, Maurus, Benyowsky's life told by, 127.

Jones, Paul, and Ledyard, 255.

Juan Fernandez, _Columbia_ repaired at, 217.


Kadiak Indians in California, 315.

Kadiak Island, otter-hunting headquarters, 69, 79; Ochotyn at, 124;
Benyowsky visits, 125; Baranof at, 321-329.

Kakooa, Sandwich Islands, 203, 206.

Kalekhta, Aleutian village, 90, 94.

Kamchatka, Bering sails from, 11; Benyowsky in, 113-122.

Karakakooa Bay, Cook at, 197-205.

Kendrick, Captain John, 213, 214, 216, 217, 225, 226, 228, 229, 264, 272,
322; adventures of, on Queen Charlotte Island, 230-232; death of, 238.

Kendrick, Solomon, murdered, 232.

Khitroff, in Bering expedition, 26-27, 30-31, 36.

King, Captain, with Cook, 128 n., 186, 192, 198, 200, 203, 206.

Koah, Hawaiian priest, 198, 206, 207.

Kohl, J. G., cited, 168, 295.

Kolosh Indians, massacre by, 307-310, 332; Baranof's encounter with, 330.

Konovalof, bandit, 327-328.

Korelin, companion of Drusenin, 90-91, 92, 94.

Korovin, Ivan, 88, 96; experiences of, at Oonalaska, 97-105.

Koshigin Bay, 319.

Kotches, Russian boats, 295-296, 297.

Kotzebue, dramatist, takes Benyowsky for a subject, 127.

Kotzebue, Otto von, works by, 295.

Kowrowa, Sandwich Islands, 197, 203.

Kracheninnikof, cited, 295.

Krusenstern, Lieutenant, 295, 311.

Kyacks, Eskimo boats, 68.

Kyak Island, Bering's landfall, 26-27, 47 n.; Cook at, 189; Baranof at,


_Lady Washington_, the, Gray sails on, to Pacific coast, 213-219; Captain
Kendrick in command of, 228; last mention of, 238.

Langsdorff, cited, 295.

La Salle, vii, 60.

Lauridsen, Peter, authority on Bering, 12 n., 61 n.

La Vérendrye, vii, 7, 19, 60, 177.

Ledyard, Dr., 243 n.

Ledyard, John, corporal of marines with Cook, 181-182, 195-196, 200, 203,
205, 247-252; authority for Cook's voyage, 209 n.; early career of,
242-244; authorities for life of, 243 n., 262 n.; student at Dartmouth
College, 245; works his way to England, 245-246; experiences of, in
London, 246-247; on return of Cook expedition sent to fight against
United States, 252; returns to Groton and deserts from British navy,
252-253; borrows money, goes to Paris, and meets Paul Jones and Thomas
Jefferson, 254-255; in England, 256; walks fourteen hundred miles from
Stockholm around Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, 257-258; accompanies Dr.
Brown three thousand miles into Siberia, 258-259; joins Joseph Billings'
expedition and reaches Lena River, 260; arrested as a French spy, carried
back to St. Petersburg, and expelled from the country, 260-261; reaches
London and is sent to discover source of Nile, 261-262; dies at Cairo,

Lewis and Clark expedition, 60-61; John Ledyard's influence on, 242, 255,

Lincoln, General, of Boston, 229.

Lisiansky, Captain, 295, 311, 313.

Lok, Michael, 275 n.

Lopez, Marcus, 216, 220; murder of, by Indians, 221.

Lynn Canal, Vancouver's survey of, 288.


Macao, Benyowsky in, 127, 128.

Macfie, _Vancouver Island_ by, 295 n.

Mackenzie, Alexander, 219.

Madagascar, Benyowsky's adventures and death in, 127.

Magellan, explorer, 134-135.

Magellan, Hyacinth de, 128 n.

Makushin Volcano, 86, 96-97, 105 n.

Maquinna, Indian chief, 276, 277-278.

Marquette, Père, vii, 7.

Martin, _Hudson's Bay Territories_ by, 295 n.

Martinez, Don Joseph, 227.

_Marygold_, Drake's vessel, 147, 148; loss of, 151-152.

Massacre, of Russians at Oonalaska and Oomnak, 100-105; the Sitka,
307-310, 332.

Mayne, cited, 290 n.

Meares, English sea-captain, 223-226, 227, 235, 254, 264, 267, 272, 273,

_Meares' Voyages_, cited, 290 n.

Medals, the Drake, 168; of Gray expedition, 215, 241.

Medvedeff, Denis, 88, 96, 97-98; murder of, 104.

Medvednikoff, commander at Sitka, 308.

Menzies, 235, 266, 269, 271.

_Mercury_, Cook on the, 180.

Michael, Kolosh chief, 308, 310.

Middleton, Captain, 174.

Morai, the, Hawaiian burying-place, 198, 201, 202.

Morris, Robert, and Ledyard, 254.

Motley, John Lothrop, cited, 4 n.

Mottley, John, cited, 4 n.

Mount Baker, 270.

Mount Edgecumbe, 46-47, 189, 331.

Mount Hood, 280.

Mount Olympus, 235.

Mount St. Elias, 26, 189.

Müller, S., scientist, 12 n., 14 n.; cited, 32, 61, 295.

Murderers' Harbor, 222.


Naplavkof, conspirator, 334-335.

New Albion, Drake's, 164, 173, 182, 183, 184; Gray expedition off, 218;
Vancouver's expedition sights, 267; Vancouver takes possession of, 271.

New Archangel, modern Sitka, 314, 333.

New Zealand, explored by Cook, 181.

Nicholson, William, edits Benyowsky's memoirs, 128 n.

Nilow, governor of Kamchatka, 116-120.

Nombre de Dios, storehouse of New Spain, 140; Drake's raid, 141-142.

Nootka, Cook's vessels at, 186-189, 248; Gray at, 223-227, 232, 238;
Vancouver's conference with Spanish at, 276-279.

Nootka Indians, Cook visits, 185-189.

Nordenskjöld, explorer, 209 n., 295 n.

Norfolk Sound.  _See_ Sitka Sound.

Northeast Passage, the, 158-159, 172; Drake's conclusions regarding, 161;
Parliament offers reward for discovery of, 174; English agitation over,
174-175, 181; Cook's efforts to discover, 182-196; Captain Clerke decides
there is no, 209; Vancouver's attitude on question of, 265-266; Vancouver
proves the non-existence of, 275, 286-290; the Fuca legend concerning,
275 n.

_Northwest-America_, launching  of, 223; seized by Spanish, 228.

Norton, Moses, 175.

Norton Sound, Cook explores, 195.

Nuchek Island, Baranof at, 322-324.

Nutting, Gray's astronomer, 214.


Ochotyn, Saxon exile, 123-124.

Ofzyn, Bering's lieutenant, 36, 38, 40.

Okhotsk, Bering's expedition at, 16.

Olympus, Mount, 235.

Olympus Range, 222-223, 268.

Oomnak Island, 84-85; sulphur at, 92; sea-otter on, 98; Korovin's
adventures at, 102-103; Medvedeff and crew massacred at, 104.

Oonalaska, otter-hunting headquarters, 69, 79, 82, 98; sulphur at, 92,
103; Korovin's experiences at, 98-101; Cook at, 195-196; Ledyard's visit
to, with Cook, 250-253.

_Oregon and California_, Greenhow's, 241.

_Oregon and Eldorado_, Bulfinch's, 241.

Oxenham, with Drake, 142.


_Pacha_, Drake's vessel, 141.

Pacific Company, 212.  _See_ Astor.

Pallas, _Northern Settlements_ by, 295 n.

Palliser, Sir Hugh, 179.

Pareea, Hawaiian chief, 198, 203.

_Pelican_, Drake's vessel, 147, 148; renamed _Golden Hind_, 150.

Perpheela, Ledyard's guide, 249.

"Peso," defined, 154 n.

Peter the Great, 4-10; analogy between Cook and, 176.

Petroff, Ivan, cited, 105 n., 295.

Philippine Islands, Benyowsky's visit to, 126; Drake passes by, 165.

Phillips, marine with Cook, 204-205.

_Phoenix_, Baranof builds, 326.

Pickersgill, explorer, 175.

Pilcher, sailor with Drake, 152 n.

Pintard, John Marden, 211, 229.

Pissarjeff, Major-General, 16.

Pizarro, Francisco, 134.

Pleneser, artist, 41.

Point Breakers, 185.

Point Possession, 271.

Point Turn-Again, 192.

Porter, Rev. E. G., lecture by, 241.

Portland Canal, 228; Gray sails up, 230; Vancouver's exploration of, 286.

Portlock, J. E., 78, 209 n., 254, 290 n.

Port St. Julian, Doughty executed at, 147-149.

Prince of Wales, Cape, 193, 208.

Prince of Wales Island, 228.

Prince William Sound, sea-otter in, 66; named by Cook, 191; Russian
settlements on, 287, 306, 322-329.

Prybiloff Islands, otter and seal found on, 79.

Puget, Peter, 235, 266, 269, 271, 273, 277, 282.

Puget Sound, explored, 270-271, 273.

_Purchas' Pilgrims_, cited, 152, 167, 275.

Pushkareff, Sergeant, 84-88.


Quadra, Don, 238, 240, 273, 322; Vancouver's conference with, 277-279.

Quebec, Cook with Wolfe at, 180.

Queen Charlotte Island, discovered, 227; Captain Kendrick at, 230-232.


Radisson, vii, 7, 239.

_Resolution_, Cook's ship, 181-209.

Reward offered by Parliament for discovery of Northeast Passage, 174.

Rezanoff, Nikolai, 306, 311, 314-315.

_Robert Anne_, Benyowsky's vessel, 127.

Roberts, Gray's surgeon, 214, 216.

Ross, Russian California colony, 315.

Russian American Fur Company, 67, 128 n.; chartered, 306; early
vicissitudes of, 307-314; at New Archangel (Sitka), 314; in California,
315.  _See_ Baranof.

Ryumin, Ivan, Russian account of Benyowsky by, 129.


Saanach coast, sea-otter on, 69.

St. Lawrence Island, 11, 12.

_St. Paul_, Bering's vessel, 17; Chirikoff in command of, 20, 22, 24 ff.,
60; voyage of, 45-53.

_St. Peter_, Bering's vessel, 17, 20, 23 ff.; wreck of, 44-45.

_St. Peter_, the second, 58-59.

_St. Peter and Paul_, the, 113, 117; Benyowsky's cruise in, 122-126.

Sands, Mr., of New York, 254.

Sandwich Islands, Cook's visit to and death at, 196-205; Gray stops at,
228-229; conduct of fur traders who visited, 283-284; Vancouver's actions
at, 284-285.

San Francisco, Vancouver at, 281-282.

Sauer, cited, 27, 260, 295.

Savelief, Sidor, 48.

Sea cows, 41, 53.

Seals, 42, 56-57, 67.

Sea-otter, 42, 53, 56; habitat of, on Aleutian Islands, 63, 66-67, 82-83;
Bering's men reap a fortune from, 63-64, 79; influence of, on exploration
of North Pacific, 65; description of, 65-66; methods of hunting the,
67-78; prices commanded for fur of, 76; figures of numbers killed, 79;
the early hunters of, 80-105; Cook's trade in, 187; Gray's bargain, 228.

Selkirk, Lord, 303.

Serdze Kamen, 12 n., 195.

Seymour, Henry, 243.

Shelikoff, Gregory Ivanovich, 303-306, 315.

Shelikoff, Natalie, 304.

Shevyrin, with Drusenin, 92-97.

Shields, English shipbuilder with Baranof, 325-326, 328.

Shumagin Islands, 30, 192.

Silva, Nuno, Drake's pilot, 159, 167 n.

Silver Map of the World, 168.

Simpson, _Voyage Round World_ by, 295 n.

Sitka, Indians massacre Russians at, 50 n., 307-310, 332; as capital of
Russian America, called Archangel Michael, 306; Russian American Fur
Company founds New Archangel on site of, 314, 333; Baranof's career at,

Sitka Sound, Chirikoff in, 46-52; sea-otter in, 66, 79; Vancouver ends
his explorations at, 289.

Snug Cove, 186, 276.

Society Islands, Cook's first visit to, 180-181; second visit, 182.

Solovieff, Cossack hunter, 105.

South Seas, Cook's voyage to, 180-181.

Spanberg, Martin, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 21.

Sparks, Jared, _Life of Ledyard_ by, 243 n., 262 n.

Staduchin, explorer, 296.

Stejneger, Dr. Leo, x, 41 n., 72 n., 295 n.

Steller, George William, 14 n., 20, 23, 25, 26-27, 30, 33, 38-40, 41, 42,
53-55, 60.

Steller's Arch, 39.

Stephanow, Hippolite, 108, 110, 125, 127.

Straits of Fuca, Cook's conclusion as to non-existence of, 185, 222, 264;
Gray sails near, 223; Gray explores, 227, 235, 269; Vancouver's arrival
at and exploration of, 268-270, 273-275.

Straits of Magellan, 135; Drake's passage of, 150.

Sulphur at Oonalaska, 92, 103.

Sunday Harbor, 325.

_Swan_, Drake's vessel, 140, 141, 147.


_Taboo_, the, 198.

Tarapaca, Drake calls at, 154-155.

Terreeoboo, King, 197-206.

Texeira, map-maker, 6 n.

Three Saints, Kadiak, Baranof's arrival at, 321-322.

Tillamook Bay, _Lady Washington_ in, 219-222.

Toledo, Don Francisco de, 155-156.

Treat, fur trader in Gray's expedition, 214.

Tribute collectors, Cossack, 5, 107, 114, 294-296, 299.


Ukamok (Foggy Island), 29.


Valdes, Don, 272-273.

Valparaiso, Drake's raid on, 153-154.

Vancouver, George, vii, 105, 161; midshipman with Cook, 181, 198;
authority on Cook's voyage, 209 n.; meeting with Gray, 235, 268-270; Gray
contrasted with, 239-240; as captain in British navy, sent to explore
Pacific coast of America, 265; ideas on Northeast Passage question,
265-266; sights Drake's "New Albion," 267; misses Columbia River,
267-268, 235; explores Puget Sound, 270-272; misses Fraser River, 272;
explores Straits of Fuca, 272-275; arrives at Nootka, 276; confers with
Spanish representative, 277-279; sails to Columbia River, 279-280; visits
California, 281-282; winters at Sandwich Islands (1792-1793), 283-285;
acts of injustice and justice at, 284-285; returns to American coast and
surveys Portland Canal, 286-287; in 1794 surveys Cook's Inlet, 287-289;
work of, results in explosion of theory of Northeast Passage, 289-290;
authorities for, 290 n.

Vancouver Island, 228, 278.

_Vega_, the, 209 n., 295 n.

Veniaminof, _Letters on Aleutians_ by, 295 n.

Venta Cruz, Drake at, 141-145.

Vera Cruz, Hawkins and Drake _vs_. the Spanish at, 135-138.

Vérendrye.  _See_ La Vérendrye.

_Voyage to the Pacific Ocean_, Cook's, 209 n.


Walrus, the Pacific, 73; Cook's men hunt, 194-195.

Waters, Abraham, 230.

Waxel, Lieutenant, 20, 24-25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35-36, 37-38, 41, 42,
57-58, 60.

Williams, Orlando, cited, 4 n.

Woodruff, mate in Gray's expedition, 214, 216.

_World Encompassed, The_, by Francis Fletcher, 167 n.-171 n.


Yakutat Bay, sea-otter in, 66, 79.

Yakutsk, Bering's second expedition winters at, 15; fur traders'
rendezvous near, 107, 259; Ledyard's arrival at, 259.

Yelagin, Chirikoff's pilot, 52.

Yendell, Samuel, 230.

Yermac, Cossack robber, 294.

Yukon, Russian traders on the, 314, 315.


Zarate, Don Francisco de, quoted regarding Drake, 150 n.

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