1577-1580


A second and larger expedition sailed in 1577. The Queen gave 1,000 pounds and lent the royal ship Aid, of two hundred tons. The Gabriel and the Michael of the former year were again made ready, besides smaller craft. This voyage was to seek gold rather than to discover the northwest passage. The fleet set sail May 27th, and on July 18th arrived off North Foreland, or Hall's Island, so named for the man who had brought away the piece of black earth. Search was made for this metal, supposed to be so valuable, and large quantities were found. The fleet sailed back to England with a heavy cargo of it.
In 1578 a third and the last voyage was made to this region, to which the name meta incognita was given. Two large ships were furnished by the Queen, and these were accompanied by thirteen smaller ones.
It was now the purpose to found a colony. The expedition set sail May 31st, going through the English Channel, and reaching the coast of Greenland June 21st. Frobisher and a few of his sailors landed where, perhaps, white men had never trodden before. As he came near the bay he was driven south by stormy weather, and entered, not knowing his whereabouts, the waters of Hudson's Straits, which he traversed a distance of sixty miles. He succeeded at length in retracing his course, and anchored on the southern shore of Frobisher's Bay, in the Countess of Warwick's Sound. But the desire for gold, the bleak winds, barren shores, and drifting icebergs, all combined to dispel the hopes of making a successful settlement, and the adventurers turned their faces homeward, carrying once more a cargo of ore, which proved, like the first, to be of no value whatever.
Almost three hundred years later Captain Hall, the American explorer, visited the Countess's Island and Sound. Among the Eskimos, from 1860 to 1862, he learned the tradition of Frobisher's visits, which had been preserved and handed down. They knew the number of ships; they spoke of the three times that white men had come; how five of these strangers had been taken captive, and how, after remaining through the winter, they had been allowed to build a boat, and to launch themselves upon the icy seas, never to be heard of more. Captain Hall was shown many relics of Frobisher's voyages, some of which he sent to the Royal Geographical Society of London, a part to the Smithsonian Institute at Washington.
The small English house of lime and stone on this island was still standing in good condition, and there was also a trench where they had built their ill-fated boat.
A contemporary of Frobisher, Sir Francis Drake, also entertained the idea of making the northwest passage. While engaged in privateering or piratical expeditions against the Spanish, Drake landed on the Isthmus of Panama, saw the Pacific for the first time, and determined to enter it by the Straits of Magellan. In 1577 he made his way through the straits, plundered the Spanish along the coast of Chili and Peru, and sailed as far north as the 48th parallel, or Oregon, calling the country New Albion. Steering homeward by the Cape of Good Hope, he arrived at Plymouth, his starting-point, in 1580, having been absent about two years and ten months.
Thomas Cavendish had been with Grenville in the voyage of 1585 to Virginia. Frobisher's attempts inspired him with the ambition of the age. In 1586 he, too, sailed through the Straits of Magellan, burning and plundering Spanish ships, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and reached Plymouth in 1588, having been gone about two years and fifty days.
See also: 1570 1576

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