|A Book of Discovery|
|by M. B. Synge|
|A fascinating account of the world's famous explorers, including the early travelers in ancient times, the discovery of the New World, explorations in Africa and Australia, and the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Many of the explorers tell part of their story in their own words. Amply illustrated with reproductions of early maps and charts, as well as old woodcuts, drawings, paintings, and miniatures. Emphasis is placed on the explorers' 'record of splendid endurance, of hardships bravely borne, of silent toil, of courage and resolution unequalled in the annals of mankind, of self-sacrifice unrivalled and faithful lives laid ungrudgingly down.' Ages 12-18 |
MARTIN FROBISHER SEARCHES FOR A NORTH-WEST PASSAGE
 SO far the expeditions of Willoughby, Chancellor, and Jenkinson had all failed to reach the Far East. The Spanish
had a way thither by Magellan's Strait, the Portuguese by the Cape of Good Hope. England in the middle of the
sixteenth century had no way. What about a North-West Passage leading round Labrador from the Atlantic to the
Pacific? England was waking up to possibilities of future exploration. She was also ready and anxious to annoy
Spain for having monopolised the riches and wealth of the New World. And so it was that Queen Elizabeth turned
with interest to the suggestions of one of her subjects—Martin Frobisher—"a mariner of great
experience and ability," when he enthusiastically consulted her on the navigation of the North-West Passage.
For the last fifteen years he had been trying to collect ships and men for the enterprise. "It is the only
thing in the world left undone whereby a notable mind might be made famous and fortunate," he affirmed.
But it was not till the year 1576 that he got a chance of fitting out two small ships—two very small
ships—the Gabriel of twenty tons, the Michael of twenty-five tons, to explore
the icy regions of the north. A wave of the Queen's hand gladdened his heart as he sailed past the palace of
Greenwich, where the Court resided, and he was soon sailing northward harassed and battered by many storms.
 His little ten-ton pinnace was lost, and the same storm that overtook the little fleet to the north of
Scotland so terrified the captain of the Michael that he deserted and turned home with the news
that Frobisher had perished with all hands.
Meanwhile Frobisher, resolute in his undertaking, was nearing the coast of Greenland—alone in the little
Gabriel with a mere handful of men all inexperienced in the art of navigating the Polar seas.
"And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold "
as Frobisher sailed his storm-beaten ship across the wintry seas. But "I will sacrifice my
life to God rather than return home without discovering a north-west passage to Cathay," he told his eighteen
men with sublime courage. Passing Cape Farewell, he sailed north-west with the Greenland current, which
brought him to the icebound shores near Hudson's Bay. He did not see the straits afterwards discovered by
Hudson, but, finding an inlet farther north, he sailed some hundred miles, in the firm belief that this was
the passage for which he was searching, that America lay on his left and Asia on his right. Magellan had
discovered straits in the extreme south; Frobisher made sure that he had found corresponding straits to the
extreme north, and Frobisher's Straits they were accordingly named, and as such they appeared on the maps of
the day till they had to be renamed Lumley's Inlet. The snow and ice made further navigation impossible for
this year, and full of their great news they returned home accompanied by an Eskimo. These natives had been
taken for porpoises by our English explorers, but later they were reported to be "strange infidels whose like
was never seen, read, or heard of before."
 Martin Frobisher was received with enthusiasm and "highly commended of all men for his great and notable
attempt, but specially famous for the great hope he brought of the passage to Cathay." Besides the Eskimo the
explorers carried home a black stone, which, when thrown on the fire by one of the sailor's wives, glittered
like gold. The gold refiners of London were hastily called in, and they reported that it contained a quantity
GREENLANDERS AS SEEN BY MARTIN FROBISHER.
A new incentive was now given to Polar exploration. The Queen herself contributed a tall ship of some two
hundred tons to the new expedition that was eagerly fitted out, and the High Admiral of all seas and waters,
countries, lands, and isles, as Frobisher was now called, sailed away again for the icy north, more to search
for gold than to discover the North-West Passage. He added nothing
 more to the knowledge of the world, and though he sailed through the strait afterwards known as Hudson's he
never realised his discovery. His work was hampered by the quest for gold, for which England was eagerly
clamouring, and he disappears from our history of discovery.
The triumphant return of Francis Drake in 1580 laden with treasure from the Spice Islands put into the shade
all schemes for a north-west passage for the moment.
Nevertheless, this voyage of Martin Frobisher is important in the history of exploration. It was the first
attempt of an Englishman to make search amid the ice of the Arctic regions—a search in which so many
were yet to lay down their lives.
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