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Barentsz's Third Arctic Voyage: January - April 1597

Nevertheless as this discovery is contrary to the opinions of all writers both ancient and modern, and that some may pretend that it is against the course of nature, and that it destroys the rotundity ascribed to the heavens and earth, they conceived there would be persons inclined to believe they were mistaken; that they would say it was so long since they had beheld the day, that it was impossible to keep an exact account of the number of the days; that probably they had passed some days in bed and sleep without being conscious of it; and that in fine, from whatever accident it might arise, they must necessarily have made some error in their calculation.

But as for them who did not doubt of what they had seen, and who were unwilling to give occasion to think that they might have some doubts, as they might have done if they had spoken less positively, and had not related the circumstances and the reasons, they have minutely written all these things, in order to show that their computation was exact: they then saw, for the first time, the sun in the sign of Aquarius, in 50 25'; and according to their former calculation, he should have been in 160 27' before he could appear in the latitude of 760, where they found themselves to be.

These circumstances, so contrary to one another, occasioned much astonishment, the more as they did not think it possible to be mistaken in their computation of the time: they had marked day by day, without omitting any one, whatever happened: they had continually paid attention to their watches, and when they were frozen they had recourse to the twelve-hour-glass.

Their occupation at that time was to make different reflections, in order to conciliate what appeared so opposite, and to discover the truth with respect to the time. They consulted the Ephemerides of Joseph Scala, printed at Venice, which reached from 1589 to 1600; and they thereby found that on the twenty-fourth of January , which was the same day the sun had appeared to them, the moon and Jupiter were in conjunction at one hour after midnight with respect to Venice.

On this remark they were attentive to observe that same night at what hour those two planets should be in conjunction, with regard to the place they were in, and they were five hours later than at Venice, that is to say, about six in the morning. During this observation they saw that they approached each other at times till six in the morning, when they were exactly the one above the other, both in the sign of Taurus. Their conjunction took place by the compass exactly at N. and by E., and the south of the compass, or of the needle, was S.S.W., where was the true south, the moon being eight days old; whence it appeared that the moon and sun were at the distance of eight rumbs from each other.

This difference therefore between the place where they were and Venice was five hours in longitude, and that being supposed, we may compute how much farther they were to the east than the city of Venice, that is to say, five hours, each hour being of fifteen degrees, which makes seventy-five degrees; from which it is easy to conclude that they were not mistaken in their computation, but that by the means of these two planets they had found the true longitude; for the city of Venice is in long. 370 25', and the declination being 460 5': it follows that the hut which was in Novaya Zemlia was in long. 1120 25', and lat. 760. All which circumstances are here related to show that there was no error in their computation of time.

As to what regards the difference of time, which was about fifteen days, that they had seen the sun at Novaya Zemlia sooner than it should have appeared, it is left to the learned to argue and to determine as well as they can.

On the same day, the twenty-sixth of January, the sick man of the company fell into a great swoon, and continued very bad till past midnight, when he died. On the twenty-seventh they dug a grave in the snow near the hut in order to bury him, though with no small difficulty, on account of the cold which obliged them to work by turns. In fine, the pit being seven feet deep, they buried the dead man. The thirty-first was a very fine day, and they were able to enjoy the brightness of the sun with pleasure.

The first seven days of February were bad and stormy, which nearly occasioned them to despair; for in the hopes of finer weather they had not taken the usual precaution of providing themselves with wood. The hut was again surrounded with high ramparts of snow: the fog was greater than it had been in the midst of winter, and the snow fell as thick as ever. But they did not as before give themselves the trouble of disengaging their door each time; and when any thing occurred which obliged them to go out, they passed through the chimney, and those who were not able were constrained to perform their necessities within.

On the eighth the weather became finer: they saw the sun rise in the S.S.E. and set in the S.S.W., that is to say, with respect to the dial of lead they had constructed near their hut, and fixed exactly south of that place; for otherwise there was a difference at least of two rumbs from their other ordinary compasses.

On the thirteenth they cleaned their traps: while they were thus occupied they saw a large bear coming directly towards the hut, to which they all retired in great haste. One of them having taken aim, the ball struck the bear on the breast, passed quite through the body, and went out by the tail, so that it became as flat as a halfpenny. The bear being wounded, made a great leap, and retired for twenty or thirty feet from the hut, where he fell. Those who pursued him found him still living, and he raised his head as if to see who had wounded him.

As they had already too fatally experienced the strength of these animals, they did not stop there, but fired two other musket-shots at him and killed him: they ripped up his belly, and having taken away more than a hundred pounds of fat and lard, they melted it; and by this means they had wherewithal to feed their lamp every night, which they had not done for some time, being in want of material; but now they had the pleasure of having each a lighted lamp by his bedside when they chose. The skin of the bear was nine feet long and seven wide.

On the twenty-first they had no more wood remaining to warm themselves, and the weather was very severe as well on account of the wind and snow as of the cold. It was necessary therefore to collect together what wood they could, both from without and from within, and use even the small sticks under their feet. The weather was finer on the twenty-second: they prepared a sledge to fetch some wood, but found it too covered with snow that it was impossible to disengage it; thus they were obliged to proceed much farther, whence nevertheless they brought but little, and with such great labour, that returning they all lost their spirits, as the severity of the cold was great, the labour of dragging the wood fatiguing, and the strength of the labourers exhausted by their exertions, and the inconveniences they then experienced; but, in short, it was however indispensable either to bring wood or perish with cold.

When they approached the hut they perceived the waters open in different places of the sea, which afforded them some consolation, and awakened the hopes of a speedy departure.

On the twenty-eighth they again went to the number of ten to fetch a sledge of wood, the eleventh of their company not being able to assist them, because he had lost his great toe by the severity of the cold; and this labour was not less painful than the other.

On the eighth of March they saw no more ice on the N.E. side of the sea, from which they concluded that there was a great sea to the N.E. of them.

On the ninth they were able to see still farther, and perceived all the sea to the N.E. open; but on the side of Tartary there yet remained ice, whence they concluded that the sea was of no great breadth on that side, even when the weather was perfectly serene: they imagined they discovered lands, and they shewed to one another to the S. and S.E. of their hut, a land which appeared to them like little mountains, and in the same manner as prospects do when they first present themselves.

On the fourteenth there arose a wind from the E.N.E., so violent and cold, that the sea was again frozen as hard as ever. This severe weather occasioned those to relapse, who having been ill, and growing better, had been a little too much exposed during the milder weather. From this day the cold continually increased, and was even still greater and more insupportable than ever. This contrary weather, so little expected, dispirited the whole crew in such a manner, that they could scarcely console themselves with the hopes of a speedy thaw, which the season seemed to promise.

During the night of the sixth of April a bear approached the hut: not withstanding their endeavours to kill him with musket and firelock shots, they were not able to take aim on account of the fog; and besides the powder was so damp that it would not take fire, and their guns almost always failed to fire. The bear descended by the steps in the snow to the door, and attempted to enter; but the master placing himself behind it, kept it so well closed that the bear retired.

Nevertheless he returned two hours after and climbed to the top of the hut, where he made so dreadful a roaring that they were all alarmed: he advanced towards the chimney, and made such great exertions to overturn it, that they feared he would accomplish it: he tore the sail with which it was surrounded, and having made an extraordinary ravage he at length departed.

On the eighth and ninth the wind blew from the S.W. and the ice disappeared; but on the tenth a violent wind from the N.E. brought it back again, and filled the sea, heaping the flakes upon one another, so that about the coast where were yet more and higher heaps than before.

This severe weather continued till the fifteenth, when they visited their vessel: they found it in the same condition they had left it. Returning they saw a bear who approached them: they immediately placed themselves in a state of defence, and the bear as if conscious of his danger retired. They advanced to the place from which they had seen him proceed, in order to discover if he had no lurking hole: they found a large cavity in the snow, nearly as deep as the height of a man, narrow at the entrance, and very wide within: they thrust their pikes into it, and not meeting with any thing, one of the company even entered it.

After this they went together to the sea shore, from which they viewed the mountains of ice which covered the sea, and which were nearly disposed like the houses of a great city, intersected with towers, steeples, bastions, and ramparts. On the seventeenth seven of them returned to their vessel: they there perceived that the water was free, which induced them to mount those heaps of ice, and pass as well as they could from one to the other till they reached the water, which they had not approached for six or seven months. Arriving there they beheld a little bird which dived into the water and concealed itself; and this induced them to think that the water was more open than it had been to that time.

On the eighteenth they observed the altitude, and found themselves in lat. 750 58'.

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