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A letter written to M. Richard Hakluyt of the middle Temple, conteining a report of the true state and commodities of Newfoundland , by M. Anthonie Parkhurst Gentleman, 1578.

MASTER HAKLUYT,
after most heartie commendations, with like thankes for your manifold kindnesse to me shewed, not for any merits that hitherto have beene mine, but wholly proceeding, I must needs confesse, of your owne good nature, which is so ready prest to benefit your countrey and all such poore men as have any sparke in them of good desires, that you do not onely become their friend, but also humble your selfe as servant in their affaires: for which I would to God I were once in place where I might cause your burning zeale to bee knowen to those that have authoritie, power, and abilitie to recompense your travelling mind and pen, wherewith you cease not day nor night to labour and travell to bring your good and godly desires to some passe, though not possibly to that happy ende that you most thirst for: for such is the malice of wicked men the devils instruments in this our age, that they cannot suffer any thing (or at least few) to proceed and prosper that tendeth to the setting forth of Gods glory, and the amplifying of the Christian faith, wherein hitherto princes have not bene so diligent as their calling required. Alas, the labourers as yet are few, the harvest great, I trust God hath made you an instrument to increase the number, and to moove men of power, to redeeme the people of Newfoundland and those parts from out of the captivitie of that spirituall Pharao, the devill.

Now to answer some part of your letter touching the sundry navies that come to Newfoundland , or Terra nova, for fish: you shal understand that some fish not neere the other by 200. leagues, and therefore the certaintie is not knowen; and some yeres come many more then other some, as I see the like among us: who since my first travell being but 4. yeeres, are increased from 30. sayle to 50. which commeth to passe chiefly by the imagination of the Westerne men, who thinke their neighbours have had greater gaines then in very deed they have, for that they see me to take such paines yeerely to go in proper person: they also suppose that I find some secret commoditie by reason that I doe search the harbors, creekes and havens, and also the land much more then ever any Englishman hath done. Surely I am glad that it so increaseth, whereof soever it springeth. But to let this passe, you shall understand that I am informed that there are above 100. saile of Spaniards that come to take Cod (who make all wet, and do drie it when they come home) besides 20. or 30. more that come from Biskaie to kill Whale for Traine. These be better appoynted for shipping and furniture of munition, then any nation saving the Englishmen, who commonly are lords of the harbors where they fish, and do use all strangers helpe in fishing if need require, according to an old custome of the countrey, which thing they do willingly, so that you take nothing from them more then a boat or twaine of salt, in respect of your protection of them against rovers or other violent intruders, who do often put them from good harbor, &c. As touching their tunnage, I thinke it may be neere five or sixe thousand tunne. But of Portugals there are not lightly above 50. saile, and they make all wet in like sorte, whose tunnage may amount to three thousand tuns, and not upwarde. Of the French nation and Britons, are about one hundred and fiftie sailes, the most of their shipping is very small, not past fortie tunnes, among which some are great and reasonably well appointed, better then the Portugals, and not so well as the Spaniards, and the burden of them may be some 7000. tunne. Their shipping is from all parts of France and Britaine, and the Spaniards from most parts of Spaine, the Portugals from Aviero and Viana , and from 2. or 3. ports more. The trade that our nation hath to Island maketh, that the English are not there in such numbers as other nations.

Now to certifie you of the fertilitie and goodnesse of the countrey, you shall understand that I have in sundry places sowen Wheate, Barlie, Rie, Oates, Beanes, Pease and seedes of herbes, kernels, Plumstones, nuts, all which have prospered as in England . The countrey yeeldeth many good trees of fruit, as Filberds in some places, but in all places Cherie trees, and a kind of Pearetree meet to graffe on. As for Roses, they are as common as brambles here: Strawberies, Dewberies, and Raspis, as common as grasse. The timber is most Firre, yet plentie of Pineapple trees: fewe of these two kinds meete to maste a ship of threescore and ten: But neere Cape Briton, and to the Southward, big and sufficient for any ship. There be also Okes & thornes, there is in all the countrey plentie of Birch and Alder, which be the meetest wood for cole, and also willow, which will serve for many other purposes. As touching the kindes of Fish beside Cod, there are Herrings, Salmons, Thornebacke, Plase, or rather wee should call them Flounders, Dog fish, and another most excellent of taste called of us a Cat, Oisters, and Muskles, in which I have found pearles above 40. in one Muskle, and generally all have some, great or small. I heard of a Portugall that found one woorth 300. duckets: There are also other kinds of Shel-fish, as limpets, cockles, wilkes, lobsters, and crabs: also a fish like a Smelt which commeth on shore, and another that hath the like propertie, called a Squid: these be the fishes, which (when I please to bee merie with my old companions) I say, doe come on shore when I commaund them in the name of the 5. ports, and conjure them by such like words: These also bee the fishes which I may sweepe with broomes on a heape, and never wet my foote, onely pronouncing two or three wordes whatsoever they be appoynted by any man, so they heare my voyce: the vertue of the wordes be small, but the nature of the fish great and strange. For the Squid, whose nature is to come by night as well as by day, I tell them, I set him a candle to see his way, with which he is much delighted, or els commeth to wonder at it as doe our fresh water fish, the other commeth also in the night, but chiefly in the day, being forced by the Cod that would devoure him, and therefore for feare comming so neere the shore, is driven drie by the surge of the Sea on the pibble and sands. Of these being as good as a Smelt you may take up with a shove-net as plentifully as you do Wheate in a shovell, sufficient in three or foure houres for a whole Citie. There be also other fishes which I tell those that are desirous of strange newes, that I take as fast as one would gather up stones, and them I take with a long pole and hooke. Yea marrie say they, wee beleeve so, and that you catch all the rest you bring home in that sort, from Portugals and Frenchmen. No surely, but thus I doe: with three hookes stretched foorth in the ende of a pole, I make as it were an Eele speare, with which I pricke those Flounders as fast as you would take up fritters with a sharpe pointed sticke, and with that toole I may take up in lesse then halfe a day Lobsters sufficient to finde three hundred men for a dayes meate. This pastime ended, I shewe them that for my pleasure I take a great Mastive I have, and say no more then thus: Goe fetch me this rebellious fish that obeyeth not this Gentleman that commeth from Kent and Christendome, bringing them to the high water marke, and when hee doubteth that any of those great Cods by reason of shelving ground bee like to tumble into the Sea againe, hee will warily take heede and carrie him up backe to the heape of his fellowes. This doeth cause my friendes to wonder, and at the first hearing to judge them notorious lies, but they laugh and are merrie when they heare the meanes howe each tale is true.

I tolde you once I doe remember how in my travaile into Africa and America , I found trees that bare Oisters, which was strange to you, till I tolde you that their boughes hung in the water, on which both Oisters and Muskles did sticke fast, as their propertie is, to stakes and timber.

Nowe to let these merrie tales passe, and to come to earnest matters againe, you shall understand, that Newfoundland is in a temperate Climate, and not so colde as foolish Mariners doe say, who finde it colde sometimes when plentie of Isles of yce lie neere the shore: but up in the land they shall finde it hotter then in England in many parts of the countrey toward the South. This colde commeth by an accidentall meanes, as by the yce that commeth fleeting from the North partes of the worlde, and not by the situation of the countrey, or nature of the Climate. The countrey is full of little small rivers all the yeere long proceeding from the mountaines, ingendred both of snow and raine: few springs that ever I could finde or heare of, except it bee towards the South: in some places or rather in most places great lakes with plentie of fish, the countrey most covered with woods of firre, yet in many places indifferent good grasse, and plentie of Beares every where, so that you may kill of them as oft as you list: their flesh is as good as yong beefe, and hardly you may know the one from the other if it be poudred but two dayes. Of Otters we may take like store. There are Sea Guls, Murres, Duckes, wild Geese, and many other kind of birdes store, too long to write, especially at one Island named Penguin, where wee may drive them on a planke into our ship as many as shall lade her. These birdes are also called Penguins, and cannot flie, there is more meate in one of these then in a goose: the Frenchmen that fish neere the grand baie, doe bring small store of flesh with them, but victuall themselves alwayes with these birdes. Nowe againe, for Venison plentie, especially to the North about the grand baie, and in the South neere Cape Race, and Plesance: there are many other kinds of beasts, as Luzarnes and other mighty beastes like to Camels in greatnesse, and their feete cloven, I did see them farre off not able to discerne them perfectly, but their steps shewed that their feete were cloven, and bigger then the feete of Camels, I suppose them to bee a kind of Buffes which I read to bee in the countreyes adjacent, and very many in the firme land. There bee also to the Northwards, Hares and Foxes in all parts so plentifully, that at noone dayes they take away our flesh before our faces within lesse then halfe a paire of buts length, where foure and twentie persons were turning of drie fish, and two dogs in sight, yet stoode they not in feare till wee gave shot and set the dogs upon them: the Beares also be as bold, which will not spare at midday to take your fish before your face, and I beleeve assuredly would not hurt any bodie unlesse they be forced.

Nowe to shew you my fancie what places I suppose meetest to inhabite in those parts discovered of late by our nation: There is neere about the mouth of the grand Bay, an excellent harbour called of the Frenchmen Chasteaux, and one Island in the very entrie of the streight called Bell Isle, which places if they be peopled and well fortified (as there are stones and things meete for it throughout all Newfound land) wee shall bee lordes of the whole fishing in small time, if it doe so please the Queenes Majestie, and from thence send wood and cole with all necessaries to Labrador lately discovered: but I am of opinion, and doe most stedfastly beleeve that we shall finde as rich Mines in more temperate places and Climates, and more profitable for fishing then any yet we have used, where wee shall have not farre from thence plentie of salt made by fire undoubtedly, and very likely by the heate of the Sunne, by reason I finde salt kerned on the rockes in nine and fortie and better: these places may bee found for salte in three and fortie. I know more touching these two commodities last remembred then any man of our nation doeth; for that I have some knowledge in such matters, and have most desired the finding of them by painefull travaile, and most diligent inquirie. Now to be short, for I have bene over long by Master Butlers means, who cryed on mee to write at large, and of as many things as I call to minde woorthy of remembrance: wherefore this one thing more. I could wish the Island in the mouth of the river of Canada should bee inhabited, and the river searched, for that there are many things which may rise thereof, as I will shew you hereafter. I could find in my heart to make proofe whether it be true or no that I have read and heard of Frenchmen and Portugals to bee in that river, and about Cape Briton. I had almost forgot to speake of the plentie of wolves, and to shew you that there be foxes, blacke, white & gray: other beasts I know none save those before remembred. I found also certain Mines of yron and copper in S. Johns, and in the Island of Yron, which things might turne to our great benefite, if our men had desire to plant thereabout, for proofe whereof I have brought home some of the oare of both sortes. And thus I ende, assuring you on my faith, that if I had not beene deceived by the vile Portugals descending of the Jewes and Judas kinde, I had not failed to have searched this river, and all the coast of Cape Briton, what might have bene found to have benefited our countrey: but they breaking their bands, and falsifying their faith and promise, disappointed me of the salte they should have brought me in part of recompense of my good service in defending them two yeeres against French Rovers, that had spoyled them, if I had not defended them.

By meanes whereof they made me lose not onely the searching of the countrey, but also forced mee to come home with great losse above 600. li. For recompence whereof I have sent my man into Portugall to demaund justice at the Kings hand, if not, I must put up my supplication to the Queenes Majesty & her honourable councell, to grant me leave to stay here so much of their goods as they have damnified mee, or else that I may take of them in Newfound land, as much fish as shall be woorth 600. li. or as much as the salte might have made. I pray you advertise mee what way I were best to take, and what hope there will bee of a recompence if I follow the suite: many there are that doe comfort me, and doe bid me proceede, for that her Majestie and the councell doe tender poore fisher men, who with me have susteined three hundred pound losse in that voyage. And to conclude, if you and your friend shall thinke me a man sufficient and of credite, to seeke the Isle of S. John, or the river of Canada , with any part of the firme land of Cape Briton, I shall give my diligence for the true and perfect discoverie, and leave some part of mine owne businesse to further the same: and thus I end, committing you to God.

From Bristow the 13. of November, 1578. Yours to use and command
ANTHONY PARCKHURST.

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