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A letter of M. Henrie Lane to the worshipfull M. William Sanderson, conteining a briefe discourse of that which passed in the Northeast discovery for the space of three and thirtie yeres.

MASTER SANDERSON, as you lately requested mee, so have I sought, and though I cannot finde things that heretofore I kept in writing, and lent out to others, yet perusing at London copies of mine old letters to content one that meaneth to pleasure many, I have briefly and as truly as I may, drawen out as followeth: The rough hewing may be planed at your leasure, or as pleaseth him that shall take the paines.

First the honourable attempt to discover by sea Northeast and Northwest named for Cathay, being chiefly procured by priviledge from king Edward the sixt, and other his nobilitie, by and at the cost and sute of M. Sebastian Cabota, then governor for discoveries with sir Andrew Judde, sir George Barnes, sir William Garrard, M. Anthony Hussie, and a companie of merchants, was in the last yeere of his Majesties reigne 1553. The generall charge whereof was committed to one sir Hugh Willoughbie knight, a goodly Gentleman, accompanied with sufficient number of Pilots, Maisters, Merchants and Mariners, having three shippes well furnished, to wit, The Bona Speranca, the Edward Bonaventure, and the Confidentia. The Edward Bonadventure, Richard Chanceller being Pilot, and Steven Burrough Maister, having discovered Wardhouse upon the coast of Finmark, by storme or fogge departed from the rest, found the bay of S. Nicholas now the chiefe port for Russia , there wintred in safetie, and had ayde of the people at a village called Newnox.

The other two shippes attempting further Northwards (as appeared by pamphlets found after written by sir Hugh Willoughbie) were in September encountred with such extreame colde, that they put backe to seeke a wintring place: and missing the saide baye fell upon a desert coast in Lappia, entring into a River immediately frozen up, since discovered, named Arzina Reca, distant East from a Russian Monastery of Monkes called Pechingho, from whence they never returned, but all to the number of 70. persons perished, which was for want of experience to have made caves and stoves. These were found with the shippes the next Summer Anno 1554. by Russe fishermen: and in Anno 1555. the place sent unto by English Merchants as hereafter appeareth.

Anno 1554. the sayd shippe Edward Bonadventure (although robbed homewardes by Flemings) returned with her company to London, shewing and setting foorth their entertainments and discovery of the countreys even to the citie of Mosco, from whence they brought a privilege written in Russe with the Kings or great Dukes seale, the other two shippes looked for and unknowen to them where they were.

An. 1555. the said company of Merchants for discoverie upon a new supply, sent thither againe with two ships, to wit, the Edward Bonadventure, & another bearing the name of the King and Queene, Philip and Marie, whose Majesties by their letters to the said Moscovite, recommended sundry their subjects then passing, wherof certaine, to wit, Richard Chanceller, George Killingworth, Henry Lane, and Arthur Edwards, after their arrivall at the Bay, and passing up Dwina to Vologda, went first up to Mosco, where, upon knowledge of the said letters, they with their traine had speciall entertainment, with houses and diet appointed, and shortly permitted to the princes presence, they were with gentlemen brought through the citie of Mosco, to the castle and palace, replenished with numbers of people, and some gunners. They entred sundry roomes, furnished in shew with ancient grave personages, all in long garments of sundry colours, golde, tissue, baldekin, and violet, as our vestments and copes have bene in England, sutable with caps, jewels, and chaines. These were found to be no courtiers, but ancient Moscovites, inhabitants, and other their merchants of credite, as the maner is, furnished thus from the Wardrobe and Treasurie, waiting and wearing this apparell for the time, and so to restore it.

Then entring into the presence, being a large roome floored with carpets, were men of more estate, and richer shew, in number above an hundred set square: who after the said English men came in, doing reverence, they all stood up, the prince onely sitting, and yet rising at any occasion, when our King and Queenes names were read or spoken. Then after speeches by interpretation, our men kissing his hande, and bidden to dinner, were stayed in another roome, and at dinner brought through, where might be seene massie silver and gilt plate, some like and as bigge as kilderkins, and washbowles, and entring the dining place, being the greater roome, the prince was set bare headed, his crowne and rich cappe standing upon a pinnacle by. Not farre distant sate his Metropolitane, with divers other of his kindred, and chiefe Tartarian Captaines: none sate over against him, or any, at other tables, their backes towards him: which tables all furnished with ghests set, there was for the Englishmen, named by the Russes, Ghosti Carabelski, to wit, strangers or merchants by ship, a table in the middest of the roome, where they were set direct against the prince: and then began the service, brought in by a number of his yoong Lordes and Gentlemen, in such rich attire, as is above specified: and still from the Princes table (notwithstanding their owne furniture) they had his whole messes set over all in massie fine golde, delivered every time from him by name to them, by their severall Christian names, as they sate, viz. Richard, George, Henry, Arthur. Likewise bread and sundry drinkes of purified mead, made of fine white and clarified honie. At their rising, the prince called them to his table, to receive each one a cup from his hand to drinke, and tooke into his hand Master George Killingworths beard, which reached over the table, & pleasantly delivered it the Metropolitane, who seeming to blesse it, sayd in Russe , this is Gods gift. As in deede at that time it was not onely thicke, broad, and yellow coloured, but in length five foot and two inches of assize. Then taking leave, being night, they were accompanied and followed with a number, carying pots of drinke, and dishes of meat dressed, to our lodging.

This yeere the two shippes, with the dead bodies of Sir Hugh Willoughbie, and his people, were sent unto by Master Killingworth, (which remained there in Mosco Agent almost two yeeres) and much of the goods and victuals were recovered and saved.

Anno 1556. The company sent two ships for Russia , with extraordinary masters and saylers to bring home the two ships, which were frozen in Lappia, in the river of Arzina aforesaid. The two ships sent this yeere from England sailing from Lapland to the Bay of S. Nicholas, tooke in lading with passengers, to wit, a Russe ambassador, named Joseph Napea, and some of his men shipped with Richard Chanceller in the Edward. But so it fel out that the two which came from Lappia, with all their new Masters and Mariners, never were heard of, but in foule weather, and wrought seas, after their two yeeres wintring in Lapland , became, as is supposed, unstanch, and sunke, wherein were drowned also divers Russes merchants, and servants of the ambassadour. A third shippe the Edward aforesayd, falling on the North part of Scotland , upon a rocke was also lost, and Master Chanceller, with divers other, drowned. The sayd Russe ambassadour hardly escaping, with other his men, mariners, & some goods saved, were sent for into Scotland , from the King, Queene, and Merchants (the messenger being M. Doctor Laurence Hussie, and others :) And then, as in the chronicles appeareth, honorably enterteined and received at London.

This yeere also the company furnished and sent out a pinnesse, named the Serchthrift, to discover the harborowes in the North coast from Norway to Wardhouse, and so to the Bay of S. Nicholas. There was in her Master and Pilot, Stephen Burrough, with his brother William, and eight other. Their discovery was beyond the Bay, towarde the Samoeds, people dwelling neare the river of Ob, and found a sound or sea with an Island called Vaigats, first by them put into the Carde or Mappe. In that place they threw snowe out of their said pinnesse, with shovels in August, by which extremitie, and lacke of time, they came backe to Russia , and wintred at Colmogro.

Anno 1557. The company with foure good ships, sent backe the said Russe ambassadour, and in company with him, sent as an Agent, for further discovery, Master Anthony Jenkinson, who afterward anno 1558, with great favour of the prince of Moscovia, and his letters passed the river Volga to Cazan, and meaning to seeke Cathay by land, was by many troupes and companies of uncivil Tartarians encountred, and in danger: but keeping company with merchants of Bactria , or Boghar, and Urgeme, travelling with camels, he with his company, went to Boghar, and no further: whose entertainment of the king is to be had of master Jenkinson, which returned anno 1559. to Moscovie. And in anno 1560. he, with Henry Lane, came home into England: which yeere was the first safe returne, without losse or shipwracke, or dead fraight, & burnings. And at this time was the first traffike to the Narve in Livonia , which confines with Lituania , & all the dominions of Russia : and the markets, faires, commodities, great townes & rivers, were sent unto by divers servants: the reports were taken by Henry Lane, Agent, and delivered to the companie, 1561. The trade to Rie, and Revel, of old time hath bene long since frequented by our English nation, but this trade to the Narve was hitherto concealed from us by the Danskers and Lubeckers.

Anno 1561. the said Master Anthony Jenkinson went Agent into Russia, who the next yeere after, passing all the river of Volga to Astracan, and over the Caspian sea, arrived in Persia, and opened the trade thither.

Also betweene the yeeres of 1568. and 1573. sundry voyages after Master Jenkinsons, were made by Thomas Alcock, Arthur Edwards, Master Thomas Bannister, and Master Geffrey Ducket, whose returne (if spoyle neere Volga had not prevented by roving theeves) had altogether salved and recovered the companies (called the olde companies) great losse, charges, and damages: but the saying is true, By unitie small things grow great, & by contention great things become small. This may be understood best by the company. The frowardnesse of some few, and evill doing of some unjust factors, was cause of much of the evill successe.

Arthur Edwards was sent againe 1579. and died in the voyage at Astracan. About which matters, are to be remembred the voyages of Master Thomas Randolph Esquire, Ambassador, anno 1567. And late of Sir Jerome Bowes, anno 1583. both tending and treating for further discoveries, freedomes, and privileges, wherewith I meddle not. But in conclusion, for their paines and adventures this way (as divers do now adayes other wayes) as worthy Gentlemen sent from princes, to doe their countrey good, I put them in your memorie, with my hearty farewell. From S. Magarets neere Dartforth in Kent .

Yours Henry Lane.

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