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A true discourse of the three Voyages of discoverie, for the finding of a passage to Cathaya, by the Northwest, under the conduct of Martin Frobisher Generall: Before which, as a necessary Preface is prefixed a twofolde discourse, conteining certaine reasons to prove all partes of the World habitable. Penned by Master George Best, a Gentleman employed in the same voyages.

What commodities and instructions may be reaped by diligent reading this Discourse.

  1. 1 FIRST, by example may be gathered, how a Discoverer of new Countries is to proceede in his first attempt of any Discoverie.
  2. 2 Item, how he should be provided of shipping, victuals, munition, and choice of men.
  3. 3 How to proceede and deale with strange people, be they never so barbarous, cruell and fierce, either by lenitie or otherwise.
  4. 4 How trade of Merchandize may be made without money.
  5. 5 How a Pilot may deale, being invironed with mountaines of yce in the frozen Sea.
  6. 6 How length of dayes, change of seasons, Summers and Winters doe differ in sundry regions.
  7. 7 How dangerous it is to attempt new Discoveries, either for the length of the voyage, or the ignorance of the language, the want of Interpretors, new and unaccustomed Elements and ayres, strange and unsavoury meates, danger of theeves and robbers, fiercenesse of wilde beastes and fishes, hugenesse of woods, dangerousnesse of Seas, dread of tempestes, feare of hidden rockes, steepnesse of mountaines, darkenesse of sudden falling fogges, continuall paines taking without any rest, and infinite others.
  8. 8 How pleasant and profitable it is to attempt new Discoveries, either for the sundry sights and shapes of strange beastes and fishes, the wonderfull workes of nature, the different maners and fashions of divers. nations, the sundry sortes of government, the sight of strange trees, fruite, foules, and beastes, the infinite treasure of Pearle, Golde and Silver, the newes of newe found landes, the sundry positions of the Sphere, and many others.
  9. 9 How valiant Captaines use to deale upon extremitie, and otherwise.
  10. 10 How trustie souldiers dutifully use to serve.
  11. 11 Also here may bee seene a good example to be observed of any private person, in taking notes, and making observations of all such things as are requisite for a Discoverer of newe Countries.
  12. 12 Lastly, the Reader here may see a good paterne of a well governed service, sundry instructions of matters of Cosmographie, Geographie, and Navigation, as in reading more at large may be scene.

Experiences and reasons of the Sphere, to proove all partes of the worlde habitable, and thereby to confute the position of the five Zones.

FIRST, it may be gathered by experience of our Englishmen in Anno 1553. For Captaine Windam made a Voyage with Merchandise to Guinea, and entred so farre within the Torrida Zona, that he was within three or foure degrees of the Equinoctiall, and his company abiding there certaine Moneths, returned, with gaine.

Also the Englishmen made another Voyage very prosperous and gainefull, An. 1554. to the coasts of Guinea, within 3. degrees of the Equinoctiall. And yet it is reported of a trueth, that all the tract from Cape de las Palmas trending by C. de tres puntas alongst by Benin , unto the Ile of S. Thomas (which is perpendiculer under the Equinoctial) all that whole Bay is more subject to many blooming and smoothering heates, with infectious and contagious ayres, then any other place in all Torrida Zona: and the cause thereof is some accidents in the land. For it is most certaine, that mountains, Seas, woods and lakes &c. may cause through their sundry kinde of situation, sundry strange and extraordinary effects, which the reason of the clyme otherwise would not give. I mention these Voyages of our Englishmen, not so much to proove that Torrida Zona may bee, and is inhabited, as to shew their readinesse in attempting long and dangerous Navigations. Wee also among us in England have blacke Moores, Æthiopians, out of all partes of Torrida Zona, which after a small continuance, can well endure the colde of our Countrey, and why should not we as well abide the heate of their Countrey? But what should I name any more experiences, seeing that all the coastes of Guinea and Benin are inhabited of Portugals, Spanyardes, French, and some Englishmen, who there have built Castles and Townes. Onely this I will say to the Merchants of London, that trade yeerely to Marochus, it is very certaine, that the greatest part of the burning Zone is farre more temperate and coole in June, then the Countrey of Marochus, as shall appeare by these reasons and experiences following. For let us first consider the breadth and bignesse of this burning Zone (which as every man knoweth, is 47. degrees) each Tropicke, which are the bounders thereof, being 23. degrees and a halfe distant from the Equinoctiall. Imagine againe two other Parallels, on each side the Equinoctiall one, eyther of them distant from the Equinoctial about 20. degrees, which Paralels may be described either of them twice a yeere by the Sunne, being in the first degrees of Gemini the 11. of May, and in Leo the 13. of July, having North latitude. And againe, the Sunne being in the first degrees of Sagittarius, the 12. of November, and in Aquarius the 9. of January, having South latitude, I am to proove by experience and reason, that all that distance included betweene these two Paralels last named (conteyning 40. degrees in latitude, going round about the earth, according to longitude) is not onely habitable, but the same most fruitfull and delectable, and that if any extremitie of heate bee, the same not to be within the space of twenty degrees of the Equinoctiall on either side, but onely under and about the two Tropickes, and so proportionally the neerer you doe approch to eyther Tropicke, the more you are subject to extremitie of heate (if any such be) and so Marochus being situate but sixe or seven degrees from the Tropicke of Cancer, shall be more subject to heate, then any place under or neere the Equinoctiall line.

And first by the experience of sundry men, yea thousands, Travailers and Merchants, to the East and West Indies in many places both directly under, and hard by the Equinoctiall, they with one consent affirme, that it aboundeth in the middest of Torrida Zona with all manner of Graine, Hearbes, grasse, fruite, wood and cattell, that we have heere, and thousandes other sortes, farre more wholesome, delectable and precious, then any wee have in these Northerne climates, as very well shall appeare to him that will reade the Histories and Navigations of such as have travelled Arabia , India intra & extra Gangem, the Islands Moluccae, America , &c. which all lye about the middle of the burning Zone, where it is truely reported, that the great hearbes, as are Radish, Lettuce, Colewortes, Borage, and such like, doe waxe ripe, greater, more savourie and delectable in taste then ours, within sixteene dayes after the seede is sowen. Wheate being sowed the first of Februarie, was found ripe the first of May, and generally, where it is lesse fruitfull, the wheate will be ripe the fourth moneth after the seed is sowne, and in some places will bring foorth an eare as bigge as the wrist of a man's arme containing 1000. graines; Beanes, peace, &c. are there ripe twice a yeere. Also grasse being cut downe, will grow up in sixe dayes above one foote high. If our cattell be transported thither, within a small time their young ones become of bigger stature, and more fat then ever they would have bene in these countreys. There are found in every wood in great numbers, such timber trees as twelve men holding handes together are not able to fathome. And to be short, all they that have belle there with one consent affirme, that there are the goodliest greene medowes and plaines, the fairest mountaines covered with all sorts of trees and fruites, the fairest valleys, the goodliest pleasant fresh rivers, stored with infinite kinde of fishes, the thickest woods, greene and bearing fruite all the whole yeere, that are in all the world. And as for gold, silver, and all other kinde of Metals, all kinde of spices and delectable fruites, both for delicacie and health, are there in such abundance, as hitherto they have bene thought to have beene bred no where else but there. And in conclusion, it is nowe thought that no where else but under the Equinoctiall, or not farre from thence, is the earthly Paradise, and the onely place of perfection in this worlde. And that these things may seeme the lesse strange, because it hath bene accompted of the olde Philosophers, that there coulde nothing prosper for the extreme heat of the Sunne continually going over their heades in the Zodiacke, I thought good here to alleadge such naturall causes as to me seeme very substantiall and sure reasons.

First you are to understand that the Sunne doeth worke his more or lesse heat in these lower parts by two meanes, the one is by the kinde of Angle that the Sunne beames doe make with the earth, as in all Torrida Zona it maketh perpendicularly right Angles in some place or other at noone, and towards the two Poles very oblique and uneven Angles. And the other meane is the longer or shorter continuance of the Sunne above the Horizon. So that wheresoever these two causes do most concurre, there is most excesse of heat: and when the one is wanting, the rigor of the heat is lesse. For though the Sunne beames do beat perpendicularly upon any region subject unto it, if it hath no continuance or abode above the Horizon, to worke his operation in, there can no hote effect proceed. For nothing can be done in a moment. And this second cause mora Solis supra Horizontem, the time of the sunnes abiding above the Horizon, the old Philosophers never remembred, but regarded onely the maner of Angles that the Sunne beames made with the Horizon, which if they were equall and right, the heat was the greater, as in Torrida Zona: if they were unequall and oblique, the heat was the lesse, as towards both Poles, which reason is very good and substantiall: for the perpendicular beames reflect and reverberate in themselves, so that the heat is doubled, every beame striking twice, & by uniting are multiplied, and continue strong in forme of a Columne. But in our Latitude of 50. and 60. degrees, the Sunne beames descend oblique and slanting wise, and so strike but once and depart, and therefore our heat is the lesse for any effect that the Angle of the Sunne beames make. Yet because wee have a longer continuance of the Sunnes presence above our Horizon then they have under the Equinoctial; by this continuance the heat is increased, for it shineth to us 16. or 18. houres sometime, when it continueth with them but twelve houres alwayes.

And againe, our night is very short wherein cold vapours use to abound, being but sixe or eight houres long, whereas theirs is alwayes twelve houres long, by which two advantages of long dayes and short nights, though we want the equalitie of Angle, it commeth to passe that in Sommer our heat here is as great as theirs is there, as hath bene proved by experience, and is nothing dissonant from good reason. Therefore whosoever will rightly way the force of colde and heat in any region, must not onely consider the Angle that the Sunne beames make, but also the continuance of the same above the Horizon. As first to them under the Equinoctiall the Sunne is twice a yeere at noone in their Zenith perpendicular over their heads, and therefore during the two houres of those two dayes the heat is very urgent, and so perhaps it will be in foure or five dayes more an houre every day, untill the Sunne in his proper motion have crossed the Equinoctiall; so that this extreme heat caused by the perpendicular Angle of the Sunne beames, endureth but two houres of two dayes in a yeere. But if any man say the Sunne may scalde a good while before and after it come to the Meridian, so farre foorth as reason leadeth, I am content to allow it, and therefore I will measure and proportion the Sunnes heat, by comparing the Angles there, with the Angles made here in England , because this temperature is best knowen unto us. As for example, the 11. day of March, when under the Equinoctiall it is halfe houre past eight of the clocke in the morning, the Sunne will be in the East about 38. degrees above the Horizon, because there it riseth alwayes at sixe of the clocke, and mooveth every houre 15. degrees, and so high very neere will it be with us at London the said eleventh day of March at noone. And therefore looke what force the Sunne hath with us at noone, the eleventh of March, the same force it seemeth to have under the Equinoctial at half an houre past eight in the morning, or rather lesse force under the Equinoctiall.. For with us the Sunne had bene already sixe houres above the horizon, and so had purified and clensed all the vapours, and thereby his force encreased at noone; but under the Equinoctiall, the Sunne having bene up but two houres and an halfe, had sufficient to doe, to purge and consume the cold and moyst vapours of the long night past, and as yet had wrought no effect of heate. And therefore I may boldly pronounce, that there is much lesse heate at halfe an houre past eight under the Equinoctiall, then is with us at noone: a fortiori. But in March we are not onely contented to have the Sunne shining, but we greatly desire the same. Likewise the 11 of June, the Sunne in our Meridian is 62 degrees high at London : and under the Equinoctiall it is so high after 10 of the clocke, and seeing then it is beneficial with us; a fortiori it is beneficiall to them after 10 of the clocke.

And thus have wee measured the force of the Sunnes greatest heate, the hottest dayes in the yeere, under the Equinoctiall, that is in March and September, from sixe till after tenne of the clocke in the morning, and from two untill Sunne set. And this is concluded, by respecting onely the first cause of heate, which is the consideration of the Angle of the Sunne beames, by a certaine similitude, that whereas the Sunne shineth never above twelve houres, more then eight of them would bee coole and pleasant even to us, much more to them that are acquainted alwayes with such warme places. So there remaineth lesse then foure houres of any excessive heate, and that onely in the two Sommer dayes of the yeere, that is the eleventh day of March, and the foureteenth of September: for under the Equinoctiall they have two Sommers, the one in March, and the other in September, which are our Spring and Autumne: and likewise two Winters, in June and December, which are our Sommer and Winter, as may well appeare to him that hath onely tasted the principles of the Sphere. But if the Sunne bee in either Tropicke, or approching neere thereunto, then may wee more easily measure the force of his Meridian altitude, that it striketh upon the Equinoctiall. As for example, the twelfth of June the Sunne will be in the first degree of Cancer. Then looke what force the heate of the Sunne hath under the Equinoctiall, the same force and greater it hath in all that Parallel, where the Pole is elevated betweene fourtie and seven, and fourtie and eight degrees. And therefore Paris in France the twelfth day of June sustaineth more heate of the Sunne, then Saint Thomas Iland lying neere the same Meridian doeth likewise at noone, or the Ilands Taprobana, Moluccae, or the firme lande of Peru in America , which all lye underneath the Equinoctiall. For upon the twelfth day of June aforesaide, the Sunne beames at noone doe make an Isoscheles Triangle, whose Vertex is the Center of the Sunne, the Basis a line extended from Saint Thomas Iland under the Equinoctiall, unto Paris in France neere the same Meridian: therefore the two Angles of the Base must needs be equal per 5. primi, Ergo the force of the heat equal, if there were no other cause then the reason of the Angle, as the olde Philosophers have appointed. But because at Paris the Sunne riseth two houres before it riseth to them under the Equinoctiall, and setteth likewise two houres after them, by meanes of the obliquitie of the Horizon, in which time of the Sunnes presence foure houres in one place more then the other, it worketh some effect more in one place then in the other, and being of equall height at noone, it must then needs follow to be more hote in the Parallel of Paris, then it is under the Equinoctiall.

Also this is an other reason, that when the Sunne setteth to them under the Equinoctiall, it goeth very deepe and lowe under their Horizon, almost even to their Antipodes, whereby their twilights are very short, and their nights are made very extreeme darke and long, and so the moysture and coldnesse of the long nights wonderfully encreaseth, so that at length the Sunne rising can hardly in many houres consume and drive away the colde humours and moyst vapours of the night past, which is cleane contrary in the Parallel of Paris: for the Sunne goeth under their Horizon but very little, after a sloping sort, whereby their nights are not very darke, but lightsome, as looking into the North in a cleare night without cloudes it doeth manifestly appeare, their twilights are long: for the Parallel of Cancer cutteth not the Horizon of Paris at right Angles, but at Angles very uneven, and unlike as it doeth the Horizon of the Equinoctiall. Also the Sommer day at Paris is sixteene houres long, and the night but eight: where contrarywise under the Equinoctiall the day is but twelve houres long, and so long is also the night, in whatsoever Parallel the Sunne be: and therefore looke what oddes and difference of proportion there is betweene the Sunnes abode above the Horizon in Paris , and the abode it hath under the Equinoctiall, (it being in Cancer) the same proportion would seeme to be betweene the heate of the one place, and heate of the other: for other things (as the Angle of the whole arke of the Sunnes progresse that day in both places) are equall.

But under the Equinoctiall the presence and abode of the Sunne above the Horizon is equall to his absence, and abode under the Horizon, eche being twelve houres. And at Paris the continuance and abode of the Sunne is above the Horizon sixteene houres long, and but eight houres absence, which proportion is double, from which if the proportion of the equalitie be subtracted to finde the difference, there will remaine still a double proportion, whereby it seemeth to follow, that in June the heate at Paris were double to the heate under the equinoctiall. For (as I have said) the Angles of the Sunne beames are in all points equall, and the cause of difference is, Mora Solis supra Horizontem, the stay of the Sunne in the one Horizon more then in the other. Therefore, whosoever could finde out in what proportion the Angle of the Sunne beames heateth, and what encrease the Sunnes continuance doeth adde thereunto, it might expresly be set downe, what force of heat and cold is in all regions.

Thus you partly see by comparing a Climate to us well knowen, and familiarly acquainted by like height of the Sunne in both places, that under the Equinoctiall in June is no excessive heat, but a temperate aire rather tending to cold. For as they have there for the most part a continuall moderate heat, so yet sometime they are a little pinched with colde, and use the benefite of fire as well as we, especially in the evening when they goe to bed, for as they lye in hanging beds tied fast in the upper part of the house, so will they have fires made on both sides their bed, of which two fires, the one they devise superstitiously to drive away spirits, and the other to keepe away from them the coldnesse of the nights.

Also in many places of Torrida Zona, especially in the higher landes somewhat mountainous, the people a litle shrincke at the cold, and are often forced to provide themselves clothing, so that the Spaniards have found in the West Indies many people clothed, especially in Winter, whereby appeareth, that with their heat there is colde intermingled, else would they never provide this remedy of clothing, which to them is rather a griefe and trouble then otherwise. For when they goe to warres, they will put off all their apparell, thinking it to be combersome, and will always goe naked, that they thereby might be more nimble in their fight.

Some there be that thinke the middle Zone extreme hot, because the people of the countrey can, and doe live without clothing, wherein they childishly are deceived: for our Clime rather tendeth to extremitie of colde, because wee cannot live without clothing: for this our double lining, furring, and wearing so many clothes, is a remedy against extremitie, and argueth not the goodnesse of the habitation, but inconvenience and injury of colde: and that is rather the moderate, temperate, and delectable habitation, where none of these troublesome things are required, but that we may live naked and bare, as nature bringeth us foorth.

Others againe imagine the middle Zone to be extreme hot, because the people of Africa , especially the Ethiopians, are so cole blacke, and their haire like wooll curled short, which blacknesse and curled haire they suppose to come onely by the parching heat of the Sunne, which how it should be possible I cannot see: for even under the Equinoctiall in America , and in the East Indies, and in the Ilands Moluccae the people are not blacke, but tauney and white, with long haire uncurled as wee have, so that if the Ethiopians blacknesse came by the heat of the Sunne, why should not those Americans and Indians also be as blacke as they, seeing the Sunne is equally distant from them both, they abiding in one Parallel: for the concave and convexe Superficies of the Orbe of the Sunne is concentrike, and equidistant to the earth; except any man should imagine somewhat of Aux Solis, and Oppositum, which indifferently may be applied aswel to the one place as to the other. But the Sunne is thought to give no otherwise heat, but by way of Angle in reflection, and not by his neerenesse to the earth: for throughout all Africa , yea in the middest of the middle Zone, and in all other places upon the tops of mountaines there lyeth continuall snow, which is neerer to the Orbe of the Sunne, then the people are in the valley, by so much as the height of these mountaines amount unto, and yet the Sunne notwithstanding his neerenesse, can not melt the snow for want of convenient place of reflections. Also the middle region of the aire where all the haile, frost, and snow is engendred, is neerer unto the Sunne then the earth is, and yet there continueth perpetuall cold, because there is nothing that the Sunne beames may reflect against, whereby appeareth that the neerenesse of the body of the Sunne worketh nothing.

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