/v/ FOR the past forty years I have endeavoured to gather, from every available source, all possible information bearing upon this subject. After a minute study of every detail obtainable, I have come to the conclusion that at this distance of time, with such meagre material as we possess, it would be utterly out of the question to attempt to write an accurate history of the aborigines of this island.
All that can be aimed at now is to gather together the various disjointed and disconnected references to those people that have appeared from time to time in print, arrange these in some sort of consecutive order, and relate the numerous traditions,.anecdotes, etc., current amongst the fisherfolk, that I have gathered, and which have been preserved and handed down from generation to generation.
From this chaotic mass of material, I shall endeavour to sift as much of the truth as possible, and finally make such corrections as are deemed necessary, or offer such solutions of points in the narrations as seem to require explanation. Modern research in ethnological studies affords much new light upon such subjects, which was entirely beyond the reach of the earlier writers.
I am fully aware that all my efforts must still fall very short in many respects, and that there are probably, numerous unrelated traditions which have not come under my notice. I can only claim that I have used my best endeavours to preserve from oblivion, the principal facts relating to this interesting but unfortunate section of the human family.
I had long since intended publishing the result of these enquiries but various circumstances interposed to prevent my doing so, not the least of which was the hope that at any moment some additional or important fact might come within my reach; furthermore, I had cherished the hope of being able to trace certain documents known to have been in existence, but in this I have been but partially successful.
Every individual who was supposed to possess any information whatever, bearing on the subject, has been either interviewed or written to, with the view of making the work as complete as possible. Needless to say, much that has been so acquired is of a very dubious character. Fully /vi/ half of it referred to the same events as occurring to different individuals, at different times and places. It was no easy task to sift all these divergent stories, eliminate what was useless or unreliable, and get at the actual facts in each case.
It was my good fortune in the beginning of these researches to meet with a few intelligent persons, who had come into actual contact with some of the aborigines during their lifetime, and from whom the most valuable information was obtained. It would be unimportant to enumerate all the persons, but I cannot refrain from mentioning the more reliable authorities, whose authenticity is beyond question.
My old friend, the late John Peyton, Magistrate of Twillingate, his wife, and his son Thomas, were, without exception, the best informed persons of modern times, in fact, they were a fund in themselves from whence was obtained the most direct and trustworthy references in my possession. It was John Peyton who captured the Red Indian woman, called Mary March, in 1819, and in whose house another female, called Nancy, lived for several years after her capture in 1823. The widow Jure, of Exploits Island, who also resided in Peyton's house at the same time as Nancy, was a valuable informant. She not only gave me most minute particulars of the appearance and characteristics of the Beothuck woman, but having acquired some knowledge of their language, was able to pronounce, faultlessly, several words for me, which gave a clue to its phonetics which could not be otherwise obtained.
The late Rev. Phillip Tocque, author of a book on Newfoundland, entitled Wandering Thoughts, in which appeared an engraving of Mary March, kindly furnished me with full particulars of the source from whence the picture originated, and which was in every way authentic.
Another Anglican clergyman, the Rev. Silas T. Rand, of Hansport, Nova Scotia, well versed in the Micmac language, and author of a Micmac dictionary, related some interesting traditions of that people about the Newfoundland Indians.
Prof. Latham, an eminent English Ethnologist, who made a careful study of the Beothuck vocabulary, furnished me with a copy of his notes and comments thereon.
The late Sir William Dawson, Principal of McGill University, Montreal, was another gentleman to whom I am indebted in this connection.
But perhaps, above all others, my thanks are due to Prof. Albert S. Gatschet, of the Ethnological Bureau of Washington, for the most minute study and analysis of all the Beothuck vocabularies that have come to light. A correspondence, extending over several years, was kept up with this last named gentleman, who became very much absorbed in this, to him, entirely /vii/ new dialect, and in the manners and customs of this strange people, so unlike in many respects, those of the inhabitants of the mainland of the N. American continent. It was a revelation to him to find so much new material to work upon, of which he was previously unaware. From the moment I sent him the first instalment of the vocabulary; his interest in the subject was unceasing, and he kept constantly urging me to hunt up further information, while he, himself, set to work in his own sphere, and succeeded in unearthing much that was inaccessible to me. I had the good fortune to meet this gentleman in Washington in 1885, and had a long and most interesting conversation with him. He subsequently published several pamphlets bearing upon the ethnological and linguistic relations of this most interesting tribe.
Altogether, several vocabularies were obtained from various sources, some of them being mere copies of each other, made at different times, and by different individuals, yet each one contained a few additional words, or gave a different rendering of many terms. As might be expected this was the cause of much perplexity, nevertheless, by a most careful comparison of all the vocabularies, Mr Gatschet was enabled, in most cases, to cull out the errors and rectify the mistakes.
Unfortunately none of these vocabularies were extensive or of sufficient range to prove entirely satisfactory. Owing to the numerous copyists' and typographical errors in all of them, the task of unravelling them must have been a very difficult one. As however, we can never hope to add to our knowledge on this head now, the elucidation at the hands of such an eminent authority as Mr. Gatschet can scarcely ever be looked for again. In its proper place I shall give, in full, the results of his investigations and the conclusions he arrived at.
More or less information was obtained from the Curators of the Bristol, Edinburgh, and British Museums, and from a host of private individuals too numerous to mention. In fact no possible or probable source that held out the remotest chance of affording any light on the subject was neglected.
There is one circumstance in connection with these researches I shall ever regret. I was not aware until the notice of his death appeared some thirty-eight years ago, that the philanthropic gentleman, Mr. W. E. Cormack, was, for many years previous, residing at New Westminster, British Columbia. Perhaps this noble-hearted individual possessed a more intimate knowledge of the Beothucks than any other person living in recent times. He threw himself heart and soul into the attempt to ameliorate their hapless condition in the early part of the last century. He made two daring excursions into the then unknown interior, in the hope of finding or communicating with them, but alas! it was too late! they had ceased to exist, and so far /viii/ as we know with certainty, the last survivor, Shanawdithit (Nancy), was then residing with the Peyton family at Exploits Island. Cormack had her brought to St. John's, after his return from his last expedition, and during the short remainder of her life, obtained from her many valuable and interesting facts relative to the history, etc., of her tribe. We have evidence of this from the few stray notes and references, in his handwriting, that have been preserved.
It would be inconceivable that an educated man like Cormack, who had evinced such a marked, aye, even enthusiastic interest in this unfortunate race, should have neglected the opportunity afforded him, during several months' close contact with Shanawdithit, to question her closely on all matters relating to the history and traditions of her people. He had then an opportunity such as never occurred before, as by this time the woman had acquired a very fair knowledge of the English language, in which she could make herself clearly understood. She was a full-grown woman when captured, and must have been well informed on all that pertained to her people. That Cormack published somewhere, the fullest particulars of all he learned from Shanawdithit, is several times hinted at in his manuscripts, but all my efforts to trace these have utterly failed.
Since then all chance of ascertaining anything further upon
this, to me, most
absorbing topic seems hopeless, it remains only to give the result
of my researches to the
public in as connected a form as possible, adding such comments or
explanations as my own
observations in the interior, during so many years, may enable me
JAMES P. HOWLEY.
|First Voyage of Gaspar de Cortereal, in 1500||4|
|Verazzano's voyage, 1523||8|
|Voyages of Jacques Cartier, 1534 -- 1535||9|
|John Guy's Narrative, 1612||15|
|Extracts from Captain Richard Whitbourne's Book, entitled A Discourse and Discovery of the Newe-founde-lannde||19|
|Notes from Various Sources between the date of Whitbourne's Book, 1622, and John Cartwright's Expedition up the Exploits River, in 1768||22|
|From the Journal of Sir Joseph Banks, 1766||27|
|Remarks on the situation of the Red Indians, natives of Newfoundland; with some account of their manner of living; together with such descriptions as are necessary to the explanation of the sketch of the country they inhabit: taken on the spot in the year 1768, by Lieutenant John Cartwright of H.M.S. Weymouth||29|
|Proclamation issued by His Excellency Capt. the Hon. John Byron in 1769||45|
|Notes on the Red Indians from A Journal of transactions and events during a residence of nearly sixteen years on the coast of Labrador, &c., by Capt. George Cartwright. (Newark, 1792.)||45|
|Letter of Mr. John Bland addressed to Governor's Secretary||56|
|Second Letter of Mr. Bland||58|
|Mr. Bland's third letter||60|
|Letter from William Cull to the Governor||64|
|Proclamation by His Excellency John Holloway, Esq., Vice-Admiral of the Red, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Island of Newfoundland, etc.||64|
|Mr. Bland's fourth letter||65|
|From Governor Holloway to John Bland, Esq.||66|
|Governor Holloway's letter to Viscount Castlereagh||66|
|Governor Holloway's reference to this expedition||67|
|Substance of the Narrative of Wm. Cull of Fogo||69|
|Narrative of Lieut. Buchan's Journey up the Exploits River in search of the Red Indians, in the winter of 1810-1811||72|
|Concluding Remarks by Lieut. Buchan||85|
|Capture of Mary March (Demasduit) on Red Indian Lake, in the month of March 1819||91|
|Tribe of Red Indians. Letter to the Editor of the Liverpool Mercury||96|
|Extract of a letter from St John's, dated Aug. 1, 1811||104|
|John Peyton's Narrative||105|
|Resolutions of a Town Meeting respecting the Indians||108|
|Letter to Rev. Mr. Leigh||108|
|Capt. Glascock H.M.S. Drake. Orders to proceed to the Northward to endeavour to return an Indian woman to her Tribe||110|
|Order to Capt. Glascock to search for Indians||111|
|List of Articles delivered to Capt. Glascock for the Indians||112|
|List of Presents intended for the Native Indians||113|
|Letter to the Chief Justice in reply respecting the intended communication with the Native Indians||113|
|Report of Capt. Glascock||113|
|Instructions to Commander Buchan, R. N.||116|
|Instructions to Capt. David Buchan in his 2nd Expedition during the winter of 1819-20||117|
|Colonial Correspondence||119, 120, 127|
|Captain Buchan's Report of 2nd Expedition||121|
|Further characteristics of Mary March (Waunathoake)||127|
|Training and preparation||130|
|Passage from St. John's to Trinity Bay||131|
|Depart from the sea coast||135|
|First view of the interior -- Our advance into it -- Its description -- Reach the central part of the island||139|
|Continue the journey into the western interior||147|
|Of the Red Indians and the other tribes||151|
|General features of the Western Interior, etc.||155|
|The West Coast||158|
|American portion of Newfoundland||165|
|South coast of Newfoundland -- Terminating||167|
|Capture of three Beothuck women||169|
|Extract of a disputation from R. A. Tucker, Esq., Administering to the Government of Newfoundland, to R. W. Horton, Esq.||174|
|Captain David Buchan, R. N.||176|
|Substance of Mr. Curtis's Story||179|
|Formation of the Beothuck Institution||182|
|Extracts from the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, Dec. 1827||187|
|Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Jan. 1828||188|
|Report of Mr. W. E. Cormack's Journey in search of the Red Indians of Newfoundland. Read before the Beothuck Institution at St. John's, Newfoundland. Communicated by Mr. Cormack.||189|
|Letters of W. E. Cormack, Esq., addressed to John Stark, Esq., Secretary of the Beothuck Institution, relative to affairs of the Institution, &c. Mr. Peyton's Exploits||197|
|Second Letter (in reply to Mr. Stark 21st December)||198|
|Third Letter written after his return from England 1828||199|
|Fourth Letter to Mr. Stark||199|
|Fifth Letter to Mr. Stark||199|
|Sixth Letter to Mr. Stark||200|
|Letters of John Stark, Esq., Secretary of the Beothuck Institution||200|
|First Letter (in reply to W. E. C.'s of 26th October)||200|
|Second Letter (in reply to W. E. C.'s 26th May)||201|
|Third Letter. (Reply to W. E. C. June 21st)||201|
|Letter from Prof. Jameson||203|
|Letters from Dr. Barrow to Prof. Jameson||204|
|Letter from Lord Bathurst to Dr. Barrow||204|
|Letter to Mr. Cormack relative to his journey across country and his reply thereto||205|
|Letter from Judge Des Barres||205|
|Letters from the Bishop of Nova Scotia, Dr. Englis, to W. E. Cormack and replies||205-210|
|Manuscript of W. E. Cormack's, apparently written after his last expedition in search of the Red Indians||210|
|Mamateek or Wigwam||211|
|Method of Interment||213|
|Proclamation to the Micmacs||214|
|Letter to French Commandant||218|
|Suggestions, Hints &c re Red Indians||220|
|History of the Red Indians of Newfoundland||222|
|Of the Aborigines of Newfoundland. (Cormack)||222|
|Notes relative to the Red Indians from the Records of the Beothuck Institution. (Loose papers in W. E. Cormack's handwriting)||229|
|Stray Notes in Cormack's handwriting. Dated June 24th, 1851||230|
|Death of Shanawdithit||231|
|William Epps Cormack||232|
|Death of W. E. Cormack||234|
|Theories as to the origin of the Beothucks||251|
|Physical Features of the Beothucks||257|
|Status of the Red Indian Women||261|
|The Custom of using Red Ochre||262|
|Report of the Bureau of Ethnology U.S. 1882-3||263|
|Traditions current among the fisher-folk and other residents about the Aborigines, or Red Indians||265|
|Notes on the Red Indians from Newfoundland and its Missionaries, by Rev. W. Wilson. Page 308||267|
|Inspector Grimes' stories||273|
|Joseph Young's story||277|
|Rev. Silas T. Rand's story||284|
|Description of a Beothuck Sepulchre on an island in the Bay of Exploits||288|
|Reconstructed Red Indian Grave, Hangman's Island, Placentia Bay||292|
|Rough sketch of Hangman's Island||292|
|Indian Hole, Tilt Island, Ragged Islands, Placentia Bay. Sketch plan||293|
|Linguistic Affinity of the Beothucks||297|
|First paper by Albert S. Gatschet, read before the American Philosophical Society, June 19th, 1885||302|
|Beothuck song preserved by Cormack||307|
|Second Paper by Albert S. Gatschet, read before American Philosophical Society, May 7th, 1886||307|
|Third paper by Albert S. Gatschet. (Read before the American Philosophical Society, Jan. 3, 1890)||317|
|The three Vocabularies combined||319|
|Remarks on Single Terms||321|
|Lloyd's description of the implements he found||323|
|Beothuck Implements found on Long Island, Placentia Bay||326|
|Finding of Beothuck Skeletons||330|
|Implements and Ornaments of the Beothucks||336|
|Concluding remarks on the Red Indians||341|
|Bibliography (from Gatschet's 1st Paper)||344|
|Naval Officers and men conciliating Indians. Imaginary picture||Frontispiece|
|I. Portrait of Major John Cartwright||To face 28|
|II. Cartwrights sketch of Exploits River,etc.||" 29|
|Imaginary Picture of Red Indian Camp||" 29|
|III. Section of Beothuck canoe, Cartwright||" 32|
|IV. Deer fence after Champlain||" 69|
|V. Bloody Point, Red Indian Lake, where Buchan's Marines were killed||" 80|
|Beothuck snow shoe as described by Buchan||" 87|
|Vl. Portrait of Mary March||" 91|
|Vll. Portrait of John Peyton||" 105|
|Vlll. Portrait of Capt. Buchan||" 176|
|XI. Portrait of Shawnawdithit||" 231|
|Sketch I. Red Indian Lake, Beothuck village||between pp. 238-39|
|II. Capture of Mary March on R. I. Lake, 1819||to face240|
|III. Captain Buchan conveying Mary March's corpse up Exploits||241|
|IV. Last resting place of Beothucks on Badger River||243|
|V. Murder of Indian woman on Exploits||245|
|Vl,VII. Summer and Winter mamateeks. Represents different kinds of food, etc.||246|
|VIII. A variety of subjects, cups, spears, etc.||248|
|IX, X. House in St John's in which Nancy lived. Mythological emblems||249|
|X. Beothuck sepulchre, Swan Island, Exploits Bay||288|
|Mode of burial shown by Mr. Dahl, M.E.||292|
|Mode of burial on Hangman's Island, Placentia Bay||292|
|Mode of burial on Tilt Island||294|
|Xl. Map of Newfoundland and Exploits River in 1912 showing where Indian villages were located and implements found||323|
|Xll. Mummified body of boy and Beothuck skulls||330|
|XIII. Skeleton of Beothuck||332|
|XlV. Beothuck skulls||334|
|XV, XVI. Rude stone implements||at end of book|
|XVII, XVIII, XIX. Celts, gouges, lance heads., etc.||"|
|XX, XXI, XXII. Turtle backs, arrow heads, scrapers||"|
|XXIII, XXIV. Rubbing stones, bone implements, etc.||"|
|XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX. Carved bone ornaments||"|
|XXX, XXXI. Implements of iron. Birch bark canoes, cups, etc.||"|
|XXXII. Soapstone pots, lamps, etc., and cliff from whence obtained||"|
|XXXIII. Fragments of bows and arrow shafts, etc.||"|
|XXXIV. Fragments of birch bark, canoes, cups, etc.||"|
|XXXV. Wampum necklace and other ornaments||"|
|XXXVI. Recent find of bone ornaments||"|
|XXXVII. Recent find of stone implements||"|
WITH the many theories that have been advanced from time to time to account for the peopling of this vast Western Continent, by learned persons of historical and ethnological celebrity, I shall not attempt to grapple. I shall confine myself merely to a general resume of such as bear the appearance of plausibility, and leave to others to draw their own conclusions therefrom.
The most generally accepted theory, and that which was held for a long time, is the supposition that the nomadic tribes of human beings found here by the first European explorers, must have originally crossed over from the Asiatic Continent, by way of Behring Strait, or the Aleutian Islands. Many circumstances seemed to lend colour to this theory. A great resemblance existed, both in customs and manners, between the inhabitants of the Asiatic Steppes and the American Indians; but subsequent investigations, and the light that modern ethnological science has brought to bear on this great question, seems to have considerably shaken this belief.
Others again hold, that as in comparatively recent geologic times, there is much evidence pointing to the existence of a continuous, or almost continuous, land barrier, extending across the northern region of the globe, connecting the eastern and western hemispheres, that possibly the immigration was in reality from Europe, and not from Asia.
That ingenuous writer, Ignatius Donnelly, in his story of the lost " Atlantis," has propounded the theory, that a great continent heretofore occupied the centre of the Atlantic Ocean, peopled by a numerous and advanced race of the human family, that during some great cataclysmic disturbance, this land entirely disappeared, becoming submerged in the bosom of Mother Ocean, leaving behind merely a few outlying fragments to show that it once existed(1). He holds that prior to its destruction emigration took place, both in an eastern and western direction, and that the inhabitants of at least central America and southern Europe had their origin from this source. Far-fetched as this theory may appear at first sight, there are circumstances surrounding it which would seem to give some colour to its probability. We know that a tradition long held place amongst certain European and African nations, notably amongst the Greeks, Egyptians and Phoenicians, of the existence of this mysterious continent. /xvi/ In two of Plato's dialogues, namely The Timaeus, and The Critias, he relates how Solon, a learned Athenian, travelling in Egypt, fell in with an Egyptian priest, a man of profound knowledge, who related to him that in times past, "All the western regions of Europe onward to Tyrrhenia, and of northern Africa including Lybia and Egypt, had been over-run and taken possession of by a people of redoubtable power, starting from the bosom of the Atlantic Sea. They came from a land facing the Herculaen Strait (Gibraltar), being a territory larger than Asia and Lybia in one?" Between this country and that strait," said the narrator, "there were several other but smaller islands. This Atlantean region was governed by a confederation of sovereigns. We, all of us," he said, " were enslaved by these Atlanteans, until the fleets of Athens defeated them and set us free. Yet," he continued, "a far greater evil befell them not long afterwards, for their land sank in the ocean, and thus a vast country, larger than all Europe and Asia together? disappeared in the twinkling of an eye.(2)"
Again it is related of Himilcon, a Carthaginian rover, about the year 356 of Rome, that having ventured outside the "Pillars of Hercules" (Straits of Gibraltar) he was driven far to sea, and fell upon the new continent of "Atlantis," where he found a people well advanced in the arts and of a high degree of civilization, etc. Hamilcar and his people described the land they visited as "spacious and fertile, having great resources and magnificent forests." "The attractions of the country tempted part of his crew to settle there, and the rest returning to Carthage, and its Senate being apprised confidentially, of the discovery, and dreading its effect upon the people of Carthage, whom they feared might emigrate thereto, decided to bury the event in oblivion, by causing all who knew of it to be secretly put to death."
These traditions so universally cherished, in Europe and Africa, seem to have been the foundation for many subsequent expeditions in search of the mythical "Islands of the Blest," the "Seven Cities," the island of "St. Brendan," etc., and the knowledge thereof may even have been the incentive which animated the breast of Columbus himself, in his search for new continents.
The latest theory, however, with regard to the peopling of America, and one that is gaining much ground amongst advanced thinkers, is that its inhabitants really originated on this continent, in fact, some would incline to the belief that it was the cradle of the human race itself.
What elements of truth may be contained in each or all of those theories, it is not my intention now to enquire into.
It is a pretty well established fact that the earliest European inhabitants, the so-called "Cave Men," bore a striking resemblance in anatomical structure, in the form of their rude implements of bone and stone, and in their skill in carving, to the Eskimos of the extreme northern regions of the globe. So much so, that Prof. Boyd Dawkins, in his valuable treatise on Early Man in Britain, believes them to be identical, or nearly so. This ancient race, known as the Mongolian type of man, includes some of the /xvii/ oldest civilized nations of the earth, especially the Chinese and Japanese. We have seen within recent times to what a height of advancement the latter people were capable of developing. Their struggle with the powerful Russian Empire has placed them in the van of modern nations in the arts of peace and war.
As already stated, the geologic conditions of our globe during the latter stages of the Post-Pliocene period, when it was supposed man first made his appearance, were such, that the land comprising the two great continents of Europe and America must have approached, in their northern latitudes, much nearer than they do to-day, if indeed they did not actually unite. It is not unreasonable therefore to imagine that these nomadic wanderers, whose remains prove them to have roamed over vast areas, spread themselves eastward and westward, from whatever centre they originated, over the whole northern part of our hemisphere. They were apparently accompanied in their migrations by many inferior animals, some long extinct, others like the Mastodon, and the Elephant known to have existed on this continent only by their fossil remains being occasionally exhumed from the soil. That a people contemporary with these animals inhabited America is attested from the fact that the "Mound Builders," whoever they may have been? represented the elephant most perfectly in the form of a gigantic mound of earth found in Wisconsin, also on carved stone pipes from some of their tumuli. It was their congeners in Europe who so faithfully represented another huge extinct mammal, the Mammoth, in carvings on the tusk of the animal itself. To this day the Eskimos of Labrador are very expert carvers and fabricators of bone ornaments, being a most ingenious people in many other respects.
May we not suppose then that this same race of people who showed by their earliest efforts the possession of much innate genius would under favourable climatic and other conditions develop a degree of culture and civilization in America, akin to that attained by the Chinese and Japanese in Asia. Might not the "Mound Builders" of the Mississippi Valley, the temple builders of central and southern America, represent higher and higher forms of development of this same race? It is an established fact that the few skeletons and fragmentary remains, discovered in the altar and temple mounds of these earlier inhabitants of America, bear a strong resemblance to the Eskimo in structure.
The eminent American poet, and author, William Cullen Bryant, in his Popular History of the United States, says, "Man is older on other continents than was till quite recently supposed. If older elsewhere, he may, by parity of reasoning, be older here. We are permitted to go behind the Indians in looking for the earliest inhabitants of North America, where-ever they may have come from, or whenever they may have lived."
Again, he says, "But behind these Indians who were in possession of the country when it was discovered by Europeans, is dimly seen the shadowy form of another people who have left many remarkable evidences of their habits and customs, and of a singular degree of civilization, but who many centuries ago disappeared, either exterminated by pestilence, or /xviii/ by some powerful and pitiless enemy, or driven from the country to seek new homes south and west of the Gulf of Mexico."
Squier says, speaking of the "Mound Builders," "Their pottery far exceeded anything of which the existing Indian tribes are known to have been capable."
At some remote period, undefinable as to date, swarms of more savage and more warlike hordes seem to have come upon and overwhelmed the "Mound Builders." From whence these latter originated there is nothing known with certainty. If, as conjectured, they were an influx from the Asiatic continent, or otherwise, it is very clear they soon overran the northern portion of America. No doubt their numbers were augmented from time to time by fresh arrivals following in the footsteps of the first intruders. They quickly dispersed their less savage and more peace-loving predecessors, and pushing them back step by step, possessed themselves of the territory. The original inhabitants were driven to seek safety first towards the eastern sea-board, and when dislodged from there, finally retreated to the cold, inhospitable, northern regions, where they found rest and retirement for a time from their relentless foes. It is easy to suppose that during this long and harassing retreat, they were likely to relapse into much of their original barbarism, and lose all tradition of the height of civilization to which they once attained.
It must have taken a great series of years for the new-comers to have spread themselves over the entire continent, and occupy even the outlying islands in such numbers as we find them on the arrival of the first European explorers, but it is doubtful if their occupancy of our island dated much further back than Cabot's discovery. If we are to accept the Icelandic traditions of a pre-Columbian discovery of America, and there seems no adequate reason to doubt their genuineness, we find it recorded that those daring sea-rovers at first met with no sign of inhabitants on the coast, and when at length they did come in contact with human beings, they describe them as of diminutive stature (Skrealings or dwarfs), dark and swarthy in complexion, clad in (fishes) seal (?)-skin robes, paddling skin canoes, etc. Could these be other than Eskimos? The question of the actual site of the Norse discovery and attempt at settlement being still an open one, we can only conjecture either, that they were speaking of the people of Labrador, or at that time the Eskimos, if not a fixed inhabitant of more southern latitudes, must have ranged along the coast much further south than in latter times.
The traditional enmity which existed between the Beothucks and the Eskimo, or for that matter, between all the Indian tribes of the surrounding territories and the latter, proves pretty conclusively there could be no kinship between them. Every man's hand appears to have been raised against the unfortunate Eskimo; they were, and still are, the prey of all the neighbouring tribes. It is known that the Beothucks entertained a special dislike for them, and in derision, designated them "the four-paws," presumably owing to their animal-like appearance and propensities.
It is not at all likely that two peoples bearing such antipathy for each other could have co-existed on the sea-board for any length of time. We /xix/ may, therefore, assume that at the time of the Icelandic discovery, the so-called Red Indians of Newfoundland had not yet reached the eastern shores of the continent, or at least, had not come into possession of this island, their future home. We may conceive then that subsequent to the Norse discoveries, and preceding the arrival of Columbus and the Cabots, the nomadic savages from the north-western territories came upon the scene, and dislodged the Eskimos, only in turn to be driven out themselves by subsequent arrivals of still more powerful tribes who pressed upon them from the rear.
On the authority of the late Sir Wm. Dawson, Principal of McGill University, Montreal, a tradition existed amongst the Micmac tribe of Nova Scotia, that a previous people occupied that territory whom the Micmacs drove out, and who were, probably, allied to the Tinne or Chippewan stock(3). These, he thinks, may have passed over to Newfoundland, and become the progenitors of the Beothucks. This supposition appears to me to carry with it a considerable amount of probability. Here, isolated and undisturbed, for several centuries, untainted by intermixture with other tribes they could retain all their original traits of character, language, etc., which remained with them as distinctive features down to the last moments of their existence.
All this is, however, merely conjectural, and as there is now not the slightest probability of ever arriving at the real facts, it only remains for me to give, in consecutive order, the actual recorded history of this strange, mysterious race.
Following out Sir Wm. Dawson's hint as to their probable derivation from the Tinne tribe, a branch of the great Chippewan family, we will next enquire what other authorities have to say on this head.
Professor Latham, the distinguished English Ethnologist, who made a close study of the Beothuck vocabulary many years ago, affirms that the "Beothucks were Algonkin, as opposed to Eskimo, and as Algonkins, they were not a mere branch of the Micmacs, Scoffies, and the like, of the main continent. They were members of a division of their own, not a very distant one, -- but still a separate one." Prof. Gatschet, however, does not agree with this view. He says, "The language proves that they were entirely `sui generis'." "It is a mistaken idea," he adds, "that the Beothucks are a branch of the Algonkin family yet they certainly were not the autochthons of the island." There are some writers who advanced the theory that these people may have derived their origin from a remnant of the Norsemen who attempted colonization in the tenth century, but this latter supposition has been long since disposed of. They were Indians of the typical continental type, though undoubtedly distinct in many respects from any of their near neighbours. Under all the circumstances surrounding this mysterious tribe, we must only fall back upon the suggestion of Sir Wm. Dawson, as the most plausible theory to account for their presence here.
The real historic records of the Beothucks begin with the re-discovery of America in the latter part of the fifteenth century. When Columbus made his successful voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, thereby dispelling /xx/ all those gloomy terrors which this "Sea of Darkness" held for the ancient mariners, other venturesome spirits, seeking fame for themselves, and fired by a laudable desire to acquire some share in the rich spoils of this wonderful "El Dorado," for their own nations, were not long in following in his wake. Foremost among these were the Cabots, father and son, who, starting from England, and keeping a more northerly course, fell upon the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. It is not my intention to touch upon the much disputed question as to which of those lands Cabot first sighted. It will be sufficient to state, that he undoubtedly saw this Island, and also touched upon the main continent at least a year before Columbus sighted it.
The accounts of the Cabot discoveries are of such a meagre description, and are, moreover, so conflicting and unreliable in most respects, that we can cull very little from them that is really trustworthy, consequently, their references to the people met with on these shores, might apply to any of the inhabitants from Cape Chidley to Florida, all of which great extent of coastline the Cabots were known to have explored. We can only infer, then, from certain remarks attributed to them, by contemporary writers, and from other subsequently ascertained facts, how much may really refer to the Beothucks of Newfoundland.
It would appear that on the first voyage, curious as it may seem, they did not meet with any inhabitants at all, but had ample proof of their existence by finding, in several places, felled trees, snares for entrapping game, also some spear and arrow heads. It is highly probable that the Indians seeing Cabot's ships manned by pale-faced beings, and other indications of a supposed supernatural character, fled at their approach, and hid themselves in the woods and fastnesses.
But we will now leave it to the historians and biographers to
relate the subsequent
history of the poor benighted aborigines of this island. It is an
unique story, and has no exact
parallel in other parts of the American continent. The Beothucks
were found here by the
Cabots on the discovery of the island, and for nearly three and a
half centuries continued to
occupy this oldest British colony, living in their primitive
ignorance and barbarism, under
our vaunted civilization, not altogether unknown, but unheeded and
uncared for, until this
same civilization blotted them out of existence. It is a dark page
in the history of British
colonization in America, and contrasts very unfavourably with that
of the French nation in
Canada and the Acadian provinces, where the equally barbarous
savages were treated with
so much consideration, that they are still to be met with in no
inconsiderable numbers, and in
a very appreciable condition of civilization and advancement.
VOLUMES have been written on the subject of the actual land-fall of the Cabots; in their first voyage in 1497, and as to whether the kudos of this great event was due to John, the father, or Sebastian, his son. Many lengthy discussions, frequently not devoid of considerable heat, have taken place from time to time, on these points, but so far as the object of this enquiry is concerned, very little can be gleaned of a tangible nature. About all that may be relied upon with any degree of certainty, is the fact, that the voyage took place in the year 1497, and that John Cabot commanded the expedition.
It is to the very meagre details of this discovery given by contemporary writers, we must look for such information as is at all worthy of consideration, and even this is hopelessly mixed up.
The only real authentic contemporary references to the first Cabotian voyage of 1497, are contained in three letters still preserved, in the archives of the respective countries. They were all written from London, shortly after Cabot's return, and there can be no question of their authenticity. The first of these letters was from Lorenzo Pasqualigo, a Venetian gentleman, residing in London at the time, to his brother in Venice, and is dated August 23rd, 1497, only seventeen days after Cabot's return to Bristol. It reads as follows: --
"The Venetian, our countryman, who went with a ship from Bristol, in quest of new islands, is returned, and says that 700 leagues hence, he discovered land, the territory of the Grand Cham. He coasted for 300 leagues and landed: saw no human beings, but he has brought hither to the King certain snares which had been set to catch game, and a needle for making nets: he also found some felled trees, whereof he supposed there were inhabitants, and returned to his ship in alarm."
The second letter is from Raimondo Soncino to the Duke of Milan, dated Dec. 18th, 1497. The third is from Pedro de Ayala, Spanish ambassador to the English Court, and addressed to his sovereign in Spain, dated July 25th, 1498. Only the first named has any reference to the inhabitants of the countries discovered, and this informs us that Cabot did not see any of them.
We have a little more detail of the second voyage of the Cabots in 1498, but still of a very unreliable character. It is quite evident that /2/ the two voyages have been hopelessly mixed up and confused by almost all the historians and writers on the subject. All we can gather with certainty is that Sebastian Cabot drew a mappa mundi which was engraved by Clement Adams, in 1549, which map was hung up in the private gallery at Whitehall, and was also to be seen in many merchants' offices in London. This map, though apparently quite common at the time, has, for some unaccountable reason, disappeared, and were it not for the labours of the indefatigable chronicler, Hakluyt, we would to-day be ignorant of its ever having had an existence. Fortunately this same historian has preserved, and translated into English, a Latin inscription engraved on the map as follows:--
"In the year of our Lord 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian, and his son, Sebastian, discovered that country, which no one before his time had ventured to approach, on the 24th of June, about five o'clock in the morning. He called the land Terra Primum Visa, because, as I conjecture, this was the place that first met his eyes in looking from the sea. On the contrary, the island which lies opposite the land he called the Island of St. John, -- as I suppose, because it was discovered on the festival of St. John the Baptist. The inhabitants wear beasts' skins, and the intestines of animals for clothing, esteeming them as highly as we do our most precious garments. In war their weapons are the bow and arrow, spears, darts, slings, and wooden clubs. The country is sterile and uncultivated, producing no fruit from which circumstance it happens that it is crowded with white bears, and stags of an unusual height and size. It yields plenty of fish, and these very large; such as seals and salmon: there are soles also above an ell in length(4); but especially great abundance of that kind of fish called in the vulgar tongue, Baccalaos(5). In the same island also, breed hawks, so black in their color that they wonderfully resemble ravens; besides, there are partridges, and eagles of dark plumage."
Another industrious chronicler, Richard Edens, in his work
entitled Gatherings from
writers on the New World, printed in London, in 1555, gives a
somewhat similar version of
Cabot's discovery, but after relating the main fact, nearly as
above, he adds:--
"Th'inhabitauntes are men of good corporature, although tawny,
like the Indies, and
laborious. They paynte theyr bodyes, and weare braseletts and hoops
of sylver and copper. Theyr
apparel is made of the skynnes of martennes, and dyvers other
beastes, which they weare with the
heare inwards in wynter and outwarde in soommer. This apparel they
gyrde to theyre bodyes with
gyrdels made of cotton or the synewes of fysshes and beastes. They
eate fysshe more than any other
thynge, and especially salmons, although they have fowles and
fruit. They make theyre houses of
timber, whereof they have great plentie; and in the steade of
tyles, cover them with skynnes of
fysshes and beastes."
Again he says of these lands,
"Jacobus Bastaldus wryteth thus: -- The Newe land of Baccalaos
is a coulde region, whose
inhabytauntes are idolatours, and praye to the Soone and moone and
dyvers idols. They are whyte
people, and very rustical, for they eate fleshe and fysshe and all
other things rawe, Sumtymes also,
they eate man's flesshe privily, so that theyr cacique have no
knowledge thereof. The apparel of both
men and women is made of beares skynnes although they have sables
and martennes not greatly
esteemed, because they are little. Some of them go naked in the
soomer, and weare /3/ apparel only in
wynter. . . : Northward from the region of Baccalaos is the land
of Labrador, all full of mountaynes and
great woods, in which are manye beares and wilde boares? Th'
inhabitauntes are idolatours and
warlike people, apparelled as are they of Baccalaos. In all this
newe lande is neyther citie or castell
but they lyve in companies lyke heardes of beastes."
Fabian, another chronicler of contemporary date, mentions that Cabot brought away with him three of the natives, "which he presented to the King (Henry Vll), in the fourteenth year of his reign," i.e. 1499.
The following account of this circumstance is taken from
Kerr's Travels, Vol. VI.
"This year also were brought unto the King, three men taken in the Newfound-island, that before I spoke of in William Purchas' time. These were clothed with beasts' skins, and ate raw flesh and spoke a language that no man could understand them, in their demeanor like to brute beasts, whom the king kept a time after, of the which upon two years past after, I saw two apparelled after the manner of Englishmen in Westminster Palace, which at that time I could not discern from Englishmen, till I learned what they were. But as for speech, I heard none of them utter one word."
Peter Martyr, in his work, The Decades of the Ocean, which was partly written during the lifetime of Sebastian Cabot, with whom he says he was on intimate terms, gives pretty much the same account as the foregoing. Speaking of Cabot, he says, "He declared also, that in many places of these territories he saw plenty of latten(6) amongst the inhabitants."
The above extracts contain about all the really contemporary
narratives of the Cabot
voyages, in so far as they refer to the inhabitants of these
regions. Numerous writers of a
later date quote garbled versions of the same references,
intermixed with those of
subsequent explorers, all of which are attributed to the Cabots. As
an example, we find it
given in Anspach's History of Newfoundland, 1818, thus: --
"When Cabot first landed in the Bay of Bonavista (?), he saw
some people painted with
ochre and clothed with deer skins, formed into a sort of gown
without sleeves, that reach about half-way down the legs and arms,
and beaver skins about their necks. Their legs and feet were bare,
their heads uncovered. They wore their hair pretty long with a
great lock plaited before, their hair
was of different colors(7) and their
clothes as well as their bodies were painted red. Broughton adds
they had some knowledge of a supreme being; that they believed that
men and women were
originally created from a certain number of arrows stuck fast in
the around, and that the dead went
into a far country to make merry with their friends."
So soon as the Cabot discoveries became generally known, Spain immediately set up a claim to the new lands found, on the ground of their forming part of the Indies which that nation considered its exclusive territory. Ayala, the Spanish Ambassador in England, writing to his sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, says,
"I have seen the course and distance he (Cabot) takes; think
that the land they have found or
seek is that which your Highnesses possess, for it is the end /4/
of that which belongs to your
Highnesses, by the convention with Portugal. . . . I believe the
distance is not 400 leagues and I told
him that I thought they were the islands discovered by your
Highnesses, and I even gave him a
reason, but he would not hear it." . . . Speaking of the map drawn
by Cabot, he says -- "I have it here; and
to me it seems very false, to give out that they are not the same
The cartographical delineations of all these newly discovered regions soon began to assume a more definite form, but for a long time subsequently, the latitudes and longitudes, more especially the latter, were extremely erroneously laid down. The new lands, found towards the north, were placed fully twenty degrees too far east. In consequence of this error, Portugal now set up a claim, based upon the celebrated linea divisionis, agreed upon between it and the Spanish nation. It was found that by extending this line towards the north pole, it, apparently, included the whole of the Terra de Baccalaos of Cabot(9).
On the strength of this claim the Portuguese king equipped and dispatched two caravels under the command of Gaspar de Cortereal, a distinguished and enterprising gentleman, "who was filled with an ardent desire for exploration, and thirsted after glory(10)."
The expedition set out in the early part of the summer of 1500, from Lisbon, and returned in October.
For the fullest and clearest account of this voyage we are indebted to Pietro Pasqualigo, Venetian ambassador .at the court of Portugal, who wrote to his brother in Italy only eleven days after Cortereal's return. Fortunately this letter was preserved, and published at Vicenza, in 1501, in a work entitled: Paesi novamente retrovati et novo mondo da Alberico Vesputis Florentini Intitutado.
The letter runs as follows: --
"On the eighth (8th) of the present month (October), one of the two caravels which His Most Serene Majesty despatched last year on a voyage of discovery to the north, under the command of Gaspar Cortereal, arrived here (Lisbon), and reports the finding of a country distant hence west and north, 2000 miles, heretofore quite unknown. They proceeded along the coast between 600 and 700 miles without reaching its termination, from which circumstance they conclude it to be the mainland connected with another region, which last year was discovered in the north but which the caravel could not reach on account of the ice and the vast quantity of snow, and they are confirmed in their belief by the multitude of great rivers which they found, which certainly did not proceed from an island. They say that this country is very populous, and that the dwellings of the inhabitants are constructed with timber of great length and covered with the skins of fishes.
"They have brought hither of the inhabitants, seven in all, men, women, and children, and in the other caravel, which is looked for every hour, there are fifty more. They are of like colours, figure, stature, and respect, and bear the greatest /5/ resemblance to the Gypsies; are clothed with the skins of different animals but principally the otter. In summer, the hairy side is worn outside, in winter the reverse, and the skins are not in any-way sewed together or fastened to the body, but just as they come from the animal are wrapped about the shoulders and arms; over the parts which modesty directs to be concealed, is a covering made of the sinews or entrails of fishes(11). From this description they may appear mere savages, yet they are gentle, and have a strong sense of shame, and are better made in the legs, arms, and shoulders, than it is possible to describe. They puncture the face like the Indians, exhibiting six, eight and even more marks.
"The language they speak is not understood by anyone, though
every possible tongue has
been tried with them. In this country, there is no iron, but they
make swords of a kind of stone, and
point their arrows with the same material. There has been brought
hence a piece of a broken sword,
inlaid with gold, which we can pronounce undoubtedly to have been
made in Italy; and one of the
children had in his ears two pieces (todini) of silver, which as
certainly appear to have been made in
Venice, -- a circumstance which induces me to believe that their
country belongs to the continent,
since it is evident, that, if it had been an island where any
vessel had touched before this time, we
should have heard of it. They have great plenty of salmon, herring,
stock-fish, and similar kinds of
fish. They have also, abundance of timber, and principally of pine,
fitted for the masts and yards of
ships; on which account His Serene Majesty anticipates the greatest
advantage from this country,
both in furnishing timber for his shipping, of which he at present
stands in great need, and also from
the men who inhabit it, who appear admirably fitted to endure
labour, and will probably turn out the
best slaves that have been discovered up to this time. The arrival
appeared to me an event of which it
was right to inform you; and if on the arrival of the other
caravel, I receive any additional
information, it shall be transmitted to you in like manner."
From all the foregoing extracts, it will be seen that there is very little of a really reliable character, with regard to the aborigines of this island, and it appears very doubtful to me whether they refer at all to our Red Indians or Beothucks. Most certainly, the people who ate raw flesh were Eskimos, as their name implies(12); all other inhabitants of North America that I have ever read of cooked their food. No others but the Eskimos use the intestines of animals for clothing. It is the dress worn while hunting seals in their kayacks, and answers the same purpose as our fishermen's oil-clothing.
Those who are opposed to the theory that Cabot's landfall, on the first voyage, was on some part of the Labrador, will find their contention considerably strengthened by these contemporary extracts. It is quite conceivable why Cabot did not see any inhabitants on this cruise, if, as is supposed, he coasted along the Newfoundland shore. It is more than probable that he merely sighted or touched at the outlying points and headlands, and made no attempt to penetrate into, or explore the great bays and deep indentations of the coast. In that case, it would be very unlikely that he should meet with the Red Indians, who usually spent the summer season at the mouths of the rivers, fishing for salmon and sea-trout, or otherwise paddling about amongst the numerous archipelagoes in the northern bays in search of sea-birds and eggs.
No one doubts that the Labrador was visited on the second voyage, /6/ and, as we have seen, it was then Cabot took home the three natives. All the discussions that have arisen on these points might have been avoided, had not Sebastian Cabot, or some one for him, so mixed up the events of the two voyages as to leave a perpetual doubt on the minds of subsequent writers.
Possibly the people brought back by Cortereal may have been
description of the country, the abundance of timber, including
pine, appearance of the
natives, and mode of dressing themselves, with other particulars as
to their dwellings, stone
implements, etc., all seem to indicate the natives of this island.
Had Pasqualigo only
mentioned the custom of smearing themselves with red ochre, I would
have considered it
proof positive. All we can now look upon with any degree of
certainty is the fact that this
explorer undoubtedly visited the island, to which he gave his own
name, -- "Tiera de
Cortereal," as it appears upon Ribero's and many other of the
CORTEREAL set out on a second voyage of discovery on the 15th of May, 1501; from which he never returned. It has been variously conjectured that either his ships were lost at sea with all their crews, or cast away on the far off rugged coasts; while some historians, with considerable show of reason, believe that the friends of those poor natives whom the so ruthlessly kidnapped, set upon, and murdered the Portuguese. His brother, Miguel, now besought the king to allow him to go in search of his lost relative, which request being granted, he sailed with two ships the following year. He also disappeared, and was never heard of again. In the following year, 1503, the king at his own expense, sent two armed ships in search of the brothers Cortereal, but did not succeed in learning anything of their fate.
A contemporary Portuguese writer, Damiano Goes, in his
Chronica do felicissimo
Rey Dom Emanuel, in relating the account of these voyages,
gives some additional
particulars about the inhabitants of the region, he says: --
"The people of the country, are very barbarous and
uncivilized, almost equally so with the
natives of Santa Cruz, except that they are white, and so tanned by
cold that the white color is lost as they grow older, and they
become blackish. They are of the middle
size,(13), very lightly made, and
great archers. Instead of javelins they employ sticks, burnt in the
which they use as missiles, to as good purpose as if they were
pointed with fine steel! They clothe
themselves in the skins of beasts, of which there are great plenty
in the country. They live in caverns
of rocks, and in houses shaped like nests (choupanas). They have no
laws, believe much in auguries,
live in matrimony, and are very jealous of their wives, -- in which
thing they much resemble the
Laplanders, who also inhabit a northern latitude under 70 degrees
to 80 degrees subject to the King
of Norway and Sweden(14)."
Bancroft, quoting from Stow's Annals, says, "It is granted natives of North America in their wild attire, were exhibited to the public wonder of England, in 1502." Probably those brought by Cabot(?).
Extract from the Chronicle of Eusebius, published in Paris in
the year 1512, by Henri
Estienne; translated from Harrisse: -- Decouverte et evolution
cartographique de Terre
Neuve et des pays circonvoisins.
"Some savages have been brought from that island which is
called Newfoundland, to Rouen,
(in 1509, by the French ship, Bonaventure, -- six in all)
with their /8/ canoes,
their clothes and their arms. They are of the colour of soot
(fulginei)(15), have thick lips,
are tatooed on
the face with a small blue vein from the ear to the middle of the
chin, across the jaws(16) The hair
thick and coarse, like a horse's mane. They have no beards nor
hair on any part of the body, except
the hair of the head and eyelids. They wear a belt on which is a
kind of little bag to hide their private
parts. They speak with their lips, have no religion, and their
canoes are made of the bark of a tree.
With one hand a man can place it on his shoulders. Their arms are
large bows with strings of gut or
sinews of animals, their arrows are of reeds pointed with a stone,
or fish-bone. Their food is of
cooked meat, and their drink, water. They have no kind of money,
bread, or wine. They go naked or
else in the skins of animals, bears, deer, sea-calves, or the
According to Charlevoix, savages from the north-east coast were brought to France in 1508. He says, "There is no profit at all to be obtained from the natives, who are the most intractable of men, and one despairs of taming them."
From the Miller map 1520, "Corte Real brought from this region savage men of the same colour as ourselves, living in the fashion of ancient forms and satyrs."
According to Anspach, quoting from Dr. Foster, "One Thomas Hubert, or Aubert, sailed from Dieppe in this year, to Newfoundland and brought home some natives."
The spirit of enterprise and thirst for maritime discovery
does not appear to have
taken hold of the French, as a nation, till the reign of Francis I.
This monarch, being imbued
with the love of glory, caught the enthusiasm, and became eager to
cope with his rivals of
Spain, Portugal, and England. In the year 1523 he fitted out four
ships under the command
of a Florentine, one Giovanni Verazzano, to explore the new region.
After a short while at
sea three of the ships were disabled in a storm and put back. The
prosecuted the voyage alone in his ship the Dauphin.
The accounts of this voyage are rather obscure. It would
appear, however, that on
reaching the shores of this continent, Verazzano coasted along
northward some six or seven
hundred leagues, till he reached somewhere about the latitude of 50
degrees N., when he
returned to France. He speaks well of the savages, with whom he
traded all along. At one
place in particular, supposed to be about the position of Newport,
he remained fifteen days.
Here he says,
"The natives were the goodliest people that he had found on
the whole voyage. They were
liberal and friendly; yet so ignorant, that though instruments of
steel and iron were often exhibited,
they did not form a conception of their use, nor learn to covet
their possession." (Hakluyt.)
/9/ But when he approached his northern limits he found the savages much more hostile and jealous, for, says he, "They had learned the use of iron; but in their exchanges, they demanded knives and weapons of steel."
James Stanier Clarke, F.R.S.,.in his book entitled The Progress of Maritime Discovery, 1803, says, "He (Verazzano) entered between a great island and the mainland, and sailed to 50 degrees N. latitude, trading with the natives all along."
Other accounts assert that he did not proceed beyond Cape Breton Island, where, finding the Basque fishermen already in advance of him, he gave up the voyage, and returned home. It is very uncertain whether he fell in with the natives of this island or not, but if he really passed into the Gulf of St Lawrence, or sailed as far as 50 degrees north latitude, it is most probable that he did so. It may be inferred that the people who were so "hostile and jealous, and so eager to procure knives and weapons of steel," were those who had already been visited by the Cabots and Cortereal, i.e. either the Beothucks or Eskimo.
Some historians think that Verazzano made a second voyage to these parts, but if so, there is no authentic record of it extant.
Extract from Antonio Galvano, taken from Purchas'
Pilgrims: "In the year 1525,
Stephen Gomez sailed from the Garonne to Cuba, then coasted North
by Florida. It is
reported that he came to Cape Razo in 46 degrees to the North, from
whence he came back
again laden with slaves. The news hereof ranne by and by through
Spain, that he was come
home laden with cloves (clavos) as mistaking the word, but when the
truth was known, it
turned out to be a pleasant jest."
Voyages of Jacques Cartier, 1534 -- 1535.
On April 20th, 1534, Cartier set out from St. Malo, and arrived on the Newfoundland coast, May l0th. He put into the harbour of St. Catherine (now Catalina). Here he spent ten days, refitting, when he proceeded northward, touching at the Isle des Ouaiseaux (the Funks?), presumably to procure a supply of fresh food, eggs, and sea-birds. The island was one of the principal habitats of the Great Auk, or Penguin, commonly so-called, and it was resorted to by the fishermen on the coast, from an early date, for this purpose. Even to this day, though the Auk has long been extinct, our fishermen proceeding to Labrador, still continue the practice, other sea-birds, such as the Guillemot or Murre, the Puffin, Sea-Pigeon, etc., having usurped the place of the Great Auk, breed there in great numbers.
Cartier then proceeded to the northern extremity of the Newfoundland, and put into the Harbour of Rapont (Quirpon). Here he appeared to have first met with the aborigines, with whom he traded, as well as along all the shore on the back of the island, which he explored as he sailed up /10/ the Gulf of St. Lawrence. His description of the natives, taken from Hakluyt, is beyond question the first really reliable account of the Beothucks in existence.
"These are men," he says, "of indifferente good stature and bigness, but wild and unruly. They wear their hair tied on the top like a wreath of bay, and put a wooden pin in it, or other such thing instead of a nail, and with them they bind certain bird's feathers. They are clothed with wild beasts' skins, as well the men as the women, but the women go somewhat straighter and closer in their garments than the men do, with their waists girded. They paint themselves with certain roan colours. Their boats are made of the bark of birch trees, with the which they fish, and take great store of seals, and as far as we could understand, since coming hither, that is not their habitation, but they come from the mainland out of hotter countries, to catch the said seals and all necessaries for their living."
On his second outward voyage, in 1535, Cartier does not appear to have landed anywhere on the Newfoundland coast, though he touched again at the Funk Island. He then proceeded to Blanc Sablon, on the Labrador side of the Strait of Belle Isle, from whence he cruised up the mainland side of the Gulf. Later on he is supposed to have run across from the Magdalen Islands, and sighted Cape Ray, which he called Cap. Lorraine (?), and may have harboured on some part of our southern coast. After this he sailed across the gulf, and up the river St. Lawrence, where he wintered. On his return journey, in 1536, he touched at St. Pierre Island, and also at Renews Harbour, on the east coast of this island (Newfoundland). but there is no further reference to our native Indians. Cartier made two other voyages to Canada, or New France, in 1541 and 1543, but there is nothing to be learnt from them with reference to the Beothucks.
In the month of April, 1536, a Mr. Hore, with a party of
gentlemen, sailed from
Gravesend with two ships, the Trinity and Minion,
towards the New-founde-launde ; they
arrived at Cape Breton (?) Island, after being two months at sea.
"They then sailed towards Newfoundland, where they landed at
Penguin Island(17), and found a
prodigious quantity of white and grey birds, as large as geese(18), which they cooked and ate. . .
and white bears were likewise numerous; some of them were killed,
and proved to be eatable food.
From this small island, they proceeded to the coast of
Newfoundland, where they remained several
days at anchor, without seeing any natives. At last some of them
were observed rowing towards the
ships: a boat was manned and sent after them, but they immediately
retreated, and gaining the shore,
fled to an island in the bay. This also, they left on the approach
of the men who found there a fire at
which the side of a bear was roasting on a wooden spit."
A more circumstantial account of the meeting with the
aborigines by Mr. Hore's
party, was related to Richard Hakluyt by Oliver Dawbeney, a
merchant of London, who
accompanied the expedition, and is extracted from Barrow's
Northern Voyages, as
/11/ "After their arrival in Newfoundland, and having bene there certaine days at ancre, and not having yet scene any of the Natural people of the country, the same Dawbeney, walking one day on the hatches, spied a boat with sauages of those parts, rowing down the Bay towards them, to gaze upon the ship and our people, and takinge viewe of their coming aloofe, he called to such as were under hatches, and willed them to come up if they would see the Naturall people of the countrey, that they had so long and so much desired to see: whereupon they came up and took viewe of the sauages rowing towards them and their ship, and upon the viewe they manned out a ship-boat to meet them and to take them. But they, spying our ship-boat making towarde them, returned with main force and fled into an island that lay up in the bay or river there, and our men pursued them into the island, and the sauages fledde and escaped; but our men found a fire and the side of a beare, on a wooden spit left at the same, by the sauages that were fled.
"There, in the same place, they found a boot of leather
garnished on the outside of the calf
with certaine brave trails, as it were of raw silk(19), and founde a certaine great
warme mitten, and these
they carried with them; they returned to their ship, not finding
the sauages, nor seeing anything else
besides the soyle, and the things growing in the same, which
chiefly were stores of firre and pine
This ill-starred expedition afterwards came to grief, some of the people starved to death, others, it is said, even resorted to cannibalism to sustain life. Hakluyt, who had the relation thereof from one of the survivors, Mr. Butts, says, " He rode 200 miles to see this gentleman."
The following description is from the map of Sebastian Cabot, and was written by Dr. Grajalis, of Port Saint Martin, in 1542:
"The inhabitants of this land are clothed with the skins of animals. In their wars they used bows and arrows, lances and darts, a kind of club, and slings."
From Johan Alphonse. According to Hakluyt:
"They are a people of goodly stature, and well made; they are
very white, but they are all
naked, and if they were apparelled, as the French are, they would
be as white and as fair. Instead of
apparell they wear skins upon them like mantles, and they have a
small pair of breeches with which
they cover their privates, men as well as women. They have hose and
shoes of leather excellently
made, and they have no shirts, neither cover their heads, but their
hair is trussed above the crown of
their heads, and plaited or braided. Touching their victuals, they
eate good meat, but all unsalted; but
they dry it and afterward they broil it as well fish as flesh. They
have no certain dwelling place, but
they go from place to place as they think they can best find food,
and they live very well for they take
care for nothing else. They drink seal oil, but this is at their
great feasts. The women nurse their
children with the breast, and they sit continually, and are wrapped
about the bellies with skins of fur."
Account taken from the map of Terra Nova, in Ptolemy,
published at Venice, in
1547-8, by Pietro Andrea Mattioli: --
"Terra Nova of the Codfish, is a cold place. The inhabitants are idolators, some worship the sun, others the moon and many other kinds of idols. -- It is a fair (blanche) race, but savage (rustique). They eat all their food raw, meat as well /12/ as fish(20). There are some who eat human flesh, but hide the fact from their chief (cacique). In this province of Baccalaos the men and the women are clothed in bear skins. During the summer they are naked, but in winter they clothe themselves with skins on account of the great cold, in the fashion of the inhabitants of Flanders (?), for they have the same climate. The coasts of this country have been discovered by the Bretons, that is to say the French of Brittany, who go there to fish and catch certain fish which they call Baccalaos."
In the year 1576, Sir Martin Frobisher "having been driven by
ice to the coast of
Newfoundland, found some of the natives to whom he made presents.
He encouraged them to come
on board his ship. The next day, five of his sailors, contrary to
orders, went ashore with the natives in
the ship's boat, but neither the boat or men were seen afterwards.
Upon this, Frobisher seized,
forcibly, one of the natives whom he carried home with him, but who
died soon after his arrival in
Sir Humphrey Gilbert arrived in the Harbour of St John's, in 1583, and took possession of the island for the Crown of England. He sent expeditions along the coast, north and south, to explore the country. The result of their observations (according to Hakluyt) was, "that the southern parts seemed destitute of any inhabitants, a circumstance which was probably owing to the frequent appearance of Europeans, whose presence might have intimidated the natives, and induced them to retire into the interior. Towards the north they met with some of them who approached without dread and appeared to be of gentle disposition."
Captain Haies, second in command to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and the only surviving commander of that ill-fated expedition, writing about Newfoundland, says of the natives, "In the South parts, we found no inhabitants, which by all likely-hood, have abandoned these coasts, the same being so much frequented by Christians; but in the North are savages altogether harmless."
Sir Humphrey's fleet "consisted of five vessels, and 250 men. (22)They were of all trades, etc.; Hobby-horses, Morris-dancers, and many like conceits were provided, to win the savage people by all fair means possible." (From Prowse's History of Newfoundiand.)
Voyage of Rice Jones, 1594, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, etc.: ``Went into St George's Bay, saw wreck of two Biskaine ships. Here we found the houses of the savages made of firre trees bound together at the top and set round like a Dobe-house, and covered with the barkes of firre trees. We found also some part of their victuals, which were deeres flesh roasted upon wooden spits at the fire, and a dish made of the ryne of a tree sowed together with the sinews of the Deere, wherein was oil of the Deere. There were also foules called Cormorants, which they had pluckt and made ready to have dressed, and then we found a wooden spoon of /13/ their making, -- and we discovered the tracks of some fortie or fiftie men, women, and children". . . .
"Went into Placentia Bay, 10 leagues up, found 60 odd sail of
fishermen of St. John
de Luz, Siburno, and Biskay, -- 8 Spaniards only. Went to other
side of Bay, place called
Pesmarck (?), made stages, and fished until savages came and cut
both their boats
loose, -- left and went to Farillon(23), where were 22 sail of
"Leigh's voyage to Ramea, -- attacked by French and Spanish
vessels and about 300
IN this century we at length come upon an era replete with information about the Beothucks in every respect trustworthy. It is not second hand as has been most of the preceding, but comes direct from the authors themselves, and might almost be looked upon as the beginning of the true relation of their sad history.
In the early part of this century, England began to awaken in reality to the value of this goodly heritage of Newfoundland, especially to the abundant resources of the fisheries. A company of nobles and gentlemen formed a great colonization scheme, and under the title of the "Council and Company of the New-found-land Plantation," obtained a charter from King James I, which conferred upon them very ample territory and no less ample powers. One clause of this charter reads as follows: "We being well assured that the same country adjoining to the aforesaid coastes, where our subjects use to fishe, remaineth so destitute and so desolate of inhabitants, that scarce any one salvage person hath in many years beene scene in the most parts thereof."
Again, in reference to commodities, the Company are allowed to
carry thither free,
the charter goes on to state:
"And all other things necessary and for the use and desoine and trade with the people there, if any be inhabiting in that country or shall come out of other parts, there, to trade with the `Plantation,' and passing, and returning to and froe, all such commodities or merchandize as shall from thence be brought without paying customs, &c."
"And lastly, because the principal1 effects which one can
desire of. this action, is the
conversion of the people in those partes, if any there be,
inhabiting, unto the true worship of God, and
Christian religion, &c.,
In 1609, Mr. John Guy, one of the company, published a pamphlet urging the settling of a colony in the island. The following year he was sent out by the company, and fitted out with everything requisite to establish the same. Guy selected "Cuper's Cove" (now Cupid's), in Conception Bay, for his plantation, and was appointed by the company, Governor of the new Colony. He spent the winter of 1610-11 at that place, erecting houses, stores; building boats, etc., and otherwise preparing for the permanent establishment of the settlement of the colony(24).
/15/ On the 16th of May, 1611, Guy wrote a long letter to the
Treasurer of the Company,
Master John Slaney, giving a full account of his proceedings. He
(Guy) returned to England
that same year, leaving one, Master William Colston, in charge
during his absence. He
arrived back in Cuper's Cove, June 7th, 1612, and shortly after
proceeded on a voyage of
exploration to the northward. During this trip, they fell in with
the natives, and succeeded in
establishing, apparently, friendly relations with them. His account
of this meeting is
contained in a second letter, in which he graphically describes all
that took place.
Fortunately, both these letters are preserved in Purchas'
Pilgrims, and a copy of them was
obtained from the Curator of the Bristol Museum some years ago.
"In October, John Guy, with thirteen others, in the 'Indeavour,' and five in the 'Shallop,' went upon discovery. At Mount Eagle Bay(25), they found store of scurvey-grasse, on an island. In the south bottom of Trinitie Bay -- which they called `Savage Harbor,' they found sauages' houses, no people in them; in one they found a copper kettle, very bright (you shall have it, adds Purchas, as one of them writ it in his own tearms), a furre goune of Elke-skin(26), some seale skins, an old saile, and a fishing reele. Order was taken that nothing should be diminished, and, because the Sauages should know that some had been there, euery thing was remoued out of his place, and brought into one of the cabins, and laid orderly one upon the other, and the kettle hanged ouer them, wherein there was put some bisket, and three or four amber beads. This was done to begin to win them by faire meanes. This time of the yeare they live by hunting; for wee founde twelve Elk's hoofes, that were lately killed. A little peece of flesh was brought away, which was found to be Beaver Cod, which is forth-comming to be seene. There houses were nothing but poles set in round forme, meeting altogether aloft, which they couer with Deere skins; they are about ten foot broad, and in the middle they make their fire: one of them was couered with a saile, which they had gotten from some Christian.
"All things in this manner left, eueryone returned by the moone-light, going by the brinke of the lake, into the entrance of the made-way: and a little before they came thither, they passed by a new sauage house, almost finished, which was made in a square form with a small roofe, and so came to the bark. They haue two kinds of oars, -- one is about fower foot long, of one piece of firre, -- the other is about ten foot long, made of two pieces, one being as long, big, and round as a halfe pike, made of beeche wood, the which by likelihood, they make of a Biskaine oare; the other is the blade of the oare, which is let into the end of the long one, slit, and whipped very strongly. The short one, they use as a paddle, and the other as an oare. The thirtieth, without any further /16/ businesse, with the sauages, we departed hence to the northern side of Trinity Bay, and anchored all the night under an island. The one and thirtieth, we rowed into an harbour, which now is called, `Allhallowes'; which hath adjoining unto it, very high land.
"November the sixth, two canoes appeared, and one man alone, coming towards us with a flag in his hand, of a wolfe skin, shaking it, and making a loud noise, which we took to be for a parley; where-upon a white flag was put out, and the barke and shallop rowed towards them, which the sauages did not like of, and so took them to their canoes againe, and were going away: where upon the barke wheazed unto them, and then they staied: presently after the shallop landed Master Whittington with the flag of truce who went towards them. Then they rowed into the shoare with one canoe, the other standing aloofe off, and landed two men, one of them hauing the white skin in his hand, and coming towards Master Whittington, the sauage made a loud speech, and shaked the skin which was answered by Master Whittington in like manner, and as the sauage drew neare, he threw downe the white skin on the ground the like was done by Master Whittington; whereupon both the sauages passed ouer a little water streame towards Master Whittington, dancing, leaping, and singing, and coming together, the foremost of them presented unto him a chaine of leather full of small periwinkles shels, a splitting knife, and a feather that stake in his eare; the other gaue him an arrow without a head, and the former was requited with a linnen cap, and a hand towell, who put presently the linnen cap upon his head: and to the other he gave a knife: and after hand in hand, they all three did sing and dance: upon this, one of our company, called Francis Tipton, went ashore, unto whom one of the sauages came running and gaue him a chaine, such as is before spoken of, who was gratified by Francis Tipton with a knife and a small peece of brasse. Then all four together, danced laughing and making signs of joy and gladnesse, sometimes striking the breasts of our company, and sometimes their owne. When signs were made that they should be willing to suffer two of our company more to come on shore for two of theirs more to be landed, and that bread and drink should be brought ashore, they made likewise signs that they had in their canoes meate also to eate: upon this the shallop rowed aboard and brought John Guy and Master Teage ashoare, who presented them with a shirt, two table napkins, and a hand towell, giuing them bread, butter, and reasons of the sunne to eate, and beere, and aqua-vitae to drinke: and one of them, blowing in the aqua-vitae bottle, that made a sound, which they fell all into laughing at. After, Master Croote and John Crouther came ashore, whom they went to salute giuing them shell chains, who bestowed gloves upon them. One of the sauages who came last ashore, came walking with his oare in his hand, and seemed to have some command ouer the rest, and behaued himself ciully: For when meate was offered him, he drew off his mitten from his hand before he would receiue it, and gaue an arrow for a present without a head: who was requited with a dozen of points. After they had all eaten and drunke one of them went to their canoe, and brought us deeres flesh, dried in the /17/ smoke or winde, and drawing his knife from out of his necke, he cut euery man a peece, and that sauoured very well. At the first meeting, when signs were made of meate to eate, one of the sauages presently ran to the bank side, and pulled up a roote, and gaue it to Master Whittington, which the other sauage perceiuing to be durtie, took it out of his hand, and went to the water to wash it, and after diuiding it among the foure, it tasted very well: hee that came ashore with the oare in his hand, went and tooke the white skin that they hailed us with, and gaue it to Master Whittington; and presently after they did take our white flagge with them in the canoe, and made signs unto us that we should repaire to our barke, and so they put off, for it was almost night.
"In the two canoes there were eight men, if none were women, (for commonly in euery canoe there is one woman) they are of reasonable stature, of an ordinary middle size, they goe bare-headed, wearing their hair somewhat long but round: they have no beards; behind they haue a great locke of haire platted with feathers, like a hawke's lure, with a feather in it standing upright by the crowne of the head and a small locke platted before, a short gown made of stags' skins, the furre innermost, that raune down to the middle of their legges, with sleeues to the middle of their arme, and a beuer skin about their necke, was all their apparell, saue that one of them had shooes and mittens, so that all went bare-legged and most bare-foote. They are full-eyed, of a blacke colour; the colour of their hair was divers, some blacke, some browne, and some yellow, and their faces something flat and broad, red with oker, as all their apparell is, and the rest of their body: they are broad brested, and bould, and stand very upright. Their canoes are about twenty-foote long, and foure foot and a half broad in the middle aloft, and for their keele and timbers, they haul thin light peeces of dry firre, rended as it were lathes: and instead of boards, they use the outer burch barke, which is thin and hath many folds, sowed together with a thred made of a small root quartered. They are made in form of a new moone, stem and sterne alike, and equally distant from the greatest breadth: from the stem and sterne here riseth a yard high, a light thin staffe whipped about with small rootes, which they take hold by to bring the canoa ashore, that serueth instead of ropes, and a harbour, for euery place is to them a harborough: where they can goe ashore themselues, they take aland with them their canoa: and will neuer put to sea but in a calm, or very faire weather: in the middle of the canoa is higher a great deale than in the bowe and quarter, they be all bearing from the keele to the portlesse not with any circular line but with a right line. They had made a tilt with a saile that they got from some christian, and pitched a dozen poles in the ground neere, on which were hanged diuers furs, and chains made of shels, which at that instant we fell not into the reckoning to what intent it was done, but after it came to our minde, as hereafter you shall perceiue. The seventh day we spent in washing, and in beginning a house to shelter us when we should come hither hereafter, upon a small iland of about fiue acres of ground, which is joined to the maine with /18/ a small beech: for any bartering with the sauages there cannot be a fitter place.
"The eighth day it began to freeze, and there was thin ice ouer the sound; and because we heard nothing more of the sauages we began to return out of the sound, and coming to the place which the sauages had made two days before fire in, wee found all things remaining there, as it was when we parted, viz. an old boat saile, three or foure shell chains, about twelve furres of beauers most, a fox skin, a sable skin, a bird skin, and an old mitten, set euery one upon a seuerale pole: whereby we remained satisfied fully, that they were brought thither of purpose to barter with us, and that they would stand to our courtesie to leaue for it what wee should thinke good, because we were not furnished with fit things for to trucke, we tooke onely a beauer skin, a sable skin, and a bird skin, leauing for them a hatchet, a knife, and foure needles threaded. Master Whittington had a pair of cizzars which he left there for a small beauer skin, all the rest we left there untouched, and came that night to the harbour that we were in at our entering, which we call Flag-Staffe Harbour, because we found there the flag staffe throwne by the sauages away. These sauages by all likelihood, were animated to come unto us, by reason that wee tooke nothing from them at Sauage Bay, and some of them may be of those which dwell there. For in no other place where we were, could we perceiue any tokens of any abode of them, etc."
Unfortunately this most favourable opening of friendly relations with the aborigines was doomed to be frustrated, for in the following year when it was agreed upon by signs between the Whites and Indians that they should again meet at the same place for traffic, there came instead another fishing ship. The master of this ship knowing nothing of Guy's arrangement with the natives, and seeing so many of them assembled on the shore, concluded that they were about to attack his company. Thereupon he fired a charge amongst them from a cannon on board his ship, which caused them to retire immediately into the woods. It is presumed that they mistook this new comer for the same parties they had previously met, and owing to the supposed treachery they would never after hold any intercourse with the settlers.
There are some points in the above extract worthy of special
comment. The bold,
fearless confidence which the Indians displayed, proved that they
had not been tampered
with before and that their natural disposition, when fairly
treated, was one of trust and
friendliness, by no means the blood-thirsty vindictive
characteristics attributed to them by
later writers. That they were a child-like innocent race is well
exemplified by the reference
to the bottle incident. Their exuberant mirth at the strange sound
produced by blowing into
the mouth of the bottle is very characteristic of Indians. I have
seen some of our Micmacs
equally affected by some trivial occurrence of that kind.
Guy, who went out with his colony in 1610, made friends with the Red Indians. He wrote a letter to a friend of his in England, a Mr. Slaney. He returned to his colony in 1612, and re-arranged matters there. He undertook a survey of the coast, and met with two canoes of the Red Indians.
"Captain John Mason, Governor of Guy's plantation here, in
1618, wrote a tract
entitled, A Brief Discourse of the Newfoundland. In 1617
he wrote to the Right Worshipful
Mr. John Scott, of Scottisterbatt(?), in Scotland, Director of His
Majesty's Court of
Chancery, then at his house on the cawsy of Edinburgh." Amongst
other things he says,
"I am now setting my foote into that path where I ended last, to discover to the Westward of this land, and for two months absence, I have fitted myself with fourteen oares (having lost one former). We shall visit the Naturalls (Indians) of the country, with whom I propose to trade and hereafter shall give you a taste of the event hoping that with all Terra Nova will produce Dona Nova, to manifest our gratificacion until which tyme, I rest and shall remayne,
Tuus dum suus,
In another place Mason says, "There are few savages in the North, none in the South by whom the planter as yet never suffered damage."
"I might here further discourse of our discoveries, conference with the savages by Master John Guye, their manner of life, etc."
He then goes on to describe the situation of the "plantations, strange forms of fishes, projects for various industries, Hope of trade with savages." (Prowse's History.)
Joann de Laet (1633) writes of them as follows: "Statura corporis sunt mediocri, capillis nigris, late facie, simis naribus, grandibus oculis; mares omnes sunt imberbes; uterque sexus non modo cutem sed et vestimenta rubrica quadam tingit. . . . Mapalia (lodges) quae dam atqua humiles casas incolunt e lignis in orbem dispositis et in fastigio conjunctis. . . . Vagi sae pius habitationes mutant."
Preface: -- My first voyage thither, was about 40 years since (1582). . . We were bound to the Grand Bay (which lieth on the north side of that land)(27) -- purposing there to trade then with the savage people (for whom we carried sundry commodities) and to kill whales, etc.
/20/ Relation of the Newfoundland page 2: " The natural inhabitants of the country, as they are but few in number, so are they something rude and savage people; having neither knowledge of God, nor living under any kind of civil government. In their habits, customs and manners, they resemble the Indians of the continent, from whence (I suppose) they come; they live together in the north and west part of the country, which is seldom frequented by the English; but the French and Biscaines (who resort thither yearly for the whale-fishing and also for the codfish) report them to be an ingenious and tractable people (being well used); they are ready to assist them with great labour and patience, in killing, cutting, and boiling of whales; and making the traine oyle, without expectation of other reward than a little bread or some such small hire."
Speaking of the Bay of Flowers (Bonavista Bay ?), page 4, he says, "No shippers repaire to fish to this place; partly in regard of sundry rocks, and ledges lying even with the water, and full of danger; but chiefly (as I conjecture) because the savage people of that country doe there inhabite; many of them come secretly every yeare, into Trinity Bay and Harbour, in the night time, purposely to steale sailes, lines, hatchets, knives and such like, and this bay is not three English miles overland from Trinity Bay in some places; which people, if they might be reduced to the knowledge of the true Trinity indeed, no doubt but it would be a most sweet and acceptable sacrifice to God, an everlasting honor to your Majesty, and the heavenliest blessing to these poore creatures, who are buried in their own superstitious ignorance. The taske thereof would prove easie, if it were but well begun and constantly seconded by industrious spirits; and no doubt but God Himself would set his hands to reare up and advance so noble, so pious, and so Christian a building."
He then urges on the establishment of a settlement at Trinity, and trade with the natives, etc., "and that a speedy and more certaine knowledge might be had of the country, by reason those savage people are so near; who being politically and gently handled, much good might be wrought upon them; for I have had apparent proofes, of their ingenious and subtile dispositions, and that they are a people full of quicke and lively apprehensions."
Page 14. -- "For it is most certaine, that by a plantation there, and by that means only, the poor misbelieving inhabitants of that country may be reduced from barbarism to the knowledge of God, and the light of His truth, and to a civil and regular kind of life and government."
Page 46. -- In advocating settlement, and speaking of the employment of the settlers during winter time in trapping and furring, he adds, "They may also settle a traffic with the savages for their furs of beaver, martins, seale, otter, and what else is of worth amongst them."
Page 49. -- "Neither are there in that part of the country any savages to oppose and resist our men's planting, as it falls out in many other places. Those that are there, live in the North and West parts of the country (as hath been said), where our nation trade not; but on the East and South side of the land, where the English do fish, and which is the fittest place for a plantation, there is not the least sign or appearance that /21/ ever there was any habitation of the savages or that they ever came into these parts southward of Trinity Bay; of which I could also give some reasons, if it were not a thing to trouble this discourse withall(28)."
Page 56. -- In speaking of the cold which he endeavours to make light of, he says, "The savage people of the country live there naked both winter and summer."
In his conclusion, speaking of various trades which might be established there, he says, "and also with the natives there not only with those who live in the north and westward parts of Newfoundland, but also with those which border on the main continent of America, near thereunto. For it is well known that they are a very ongenious and subtile kind of people (as it hath often appeared in divers things), so likewise are they tractable, as hath been well approved, when they have been gently and politically dealt withall; also they are a people who will seek to revenge any wrongs done unto them, or their wolves(29), as hath often appeared. For they mark their wolves in the ears, with several marks, as is used here in England on sheep, and other beasts, which hath been likewise well approved; for the wolves in these parts are not so violent and devouring as those in other countries, for no man that I ever heard of, could say that any wolf. . . did set upon any man or boy. . . for it is well known that the natives of those parts have a great store of red ochre, wherewith they used to cover their bodies, bows, arrows and canoes in a painting manner; which canoes are their boats that they use to go to sea in, which are built like the `wherries' on the river Thames, with small timbers, no thicker nor broader than hoops; and instead of boards they use the barkes of birch trees, which they sew very artificially and close together, and then overlay the seams with terpentine, as pitch is used on the seams of ships and boats; and in like manner they used to sew the barkes of spruce and fir trees, round and deep in proportion, like a brass kettle, to boil their meat in, as it hath been well approved by divers men; but most especially to my certaine knowledge, by three mariners of a ship of Tapson, in the county of Devon; which ship riding at anchor by me, at the Harbor called Heart's Ease, on the north side of Trinity Bay, and being robbed in the night by the savages, of their apparel and divers other provisions, did the next day, seek after them, and happened to come suddenly where they had set up three tents and were feasting, having three such canoes by them, and three pots made of such kinds of trees, standing each of them on three stones boiling, with twelve fowls in each of them, every fowl as big as a widgeon, and some so big as a duck; they had also many such pots so sewn and fashioned like leather buckets, that are used for quenching of fire, and those are full of the yolks of eggs, that they had taken and boiled hard, and so dried small as it had been powdered sugar which the savages used in their broth, as sugar is used in some meats. They had great store of skins of deer, beavers, bears, seals, otters, and divers other /22/ fine skins which were excellent well dressed; as also great store of several sorts of fish dried, and by shooting off a musket towards them they all ran away naked, without any apparel, but only some of them had their hats on their heads, which were made of seal-skins, in fashion like our hats, sewed handsomely with narrow bands about them, set round with fine white shells, such as are carried from Portugall to Brasseile; where they passe to the Indians as ready money. All their three canoes, their flesh, skins, yolkes of eggs, targets, bows and arrows, and much fine ochre and divers other things they took and brought away, and shared it amongst those that took it; and they brought to me the best canoe, bows and arrows, and divers of their skins, and many other artificial things worth the noting, which may seem much to invite us to endeavour to find out some other good trades with them."
Whitbourne's first voyage thither was in 1582, in order to trade with the natives, etc. He says, "The natives in it are ingenious, and apt, by discreet and moderate government, to be brought to obedience. . . . "
"There is another motive also which amongst our ancestors, was wont to find good respect, namely, the honor of the action, by the enlarging of dominions, and that which will crown the work, will be the advancement of the honor of God, in bringing poor infidels (the natives of that country) to his worship and their own salvation."
Speaking of the friendship of their wolves and his Mastiff dog, he adds, "Surely much rather the people by our discreet and gentle usage, may be brought to society, being already naturally inclined thereunto." Talking of the fishermen destroying the trees, by rinding, -- "For no other nation doth the like, neither do the savage people after such time as our countrymen come from thence, either hurt or harm anything of theirs which they leave behind."
"For I am ready with my life, and means whereby, to find out some other new trade with the natives of the country, for they have great store of red ochre which they use to colour their bodies, bows, arrows and canoes with, etc."
Extract from Harrisse.
On October l0th, 1610. -- The Procureur of St. Malo made
complaint that in the preceding year many masters and sailors of
vessels fishing in Newfoundland, had been killed by the savages,
and presented a request to Court that the inhabitants of St.
Malo be allowed to arm two vessels to make war upon the savages"(30) so that they might be able to
fish in safety. Permission
was obtained, and St. Malo fishermen fitted out every year, one or
more vessels for this purpose. These vessels were stationed
at the Northern Peninsula, or Petit Nord, which the St. Malo
fishermen frequented. The custom was continued at least until
Speaking of Guy's attempt at colonization, he says, "He also established a means of trading with the Indians to their mutual advantage." In an account of Newfoundland, which Sir David Kirke sent to the English merchants about twenty years later (1640), he gives some curious information relative to Guy's transactions with the Indians. He says, in answer to an objection, that there was no trade with the natives, "First, say you, if there be a trade there must be somebody supposed with whom to trade, and there be noe natives, upon the island. How noe natives upon the island of Newfoundland? Have you left your eyesight in the fogges againe, and so blinded do you know at whom you strike? How comes it to pass, I pray you, that His Majesty, in the beginning of his patent makes it one of the principal reasons, for which he granted it, the hope of the conversion of these heathens to the Christian faith. And that you may be assured there are such creatures upon Newfoundland if your wisdoms consult but with our poore fisherman, that use to fish in Trinity Bay and more northerly, they wille assure you by their own continuall and sad experience, that they have found too many bad neighbors of the natives almost every fishing season. And wee ourselves can assure you that there traded so many of them with the French, even this present yeare, that if you had been amongst them you had been confuted to the purpose with the hardest bargain that ever you concluded since you were men of business. The accident was thus: -- In the harbor of Les Oyes (?), (St Julien) about eighty Indians assaulted a companie of French whilst they were pylinge up their fishinge, and slew seven of them; proceedinge a little further, killed nine more in the same manner, and clothinge sixteen of their company in the apparell of the slayne French, they went on the next day to the harbor of Petty Masters (Croc Harbor), and not being suspected by the French that were there, by reason of their habit, they surprised them at their work and killed twenty-one more(32). Soe, in two dayes having barbarously maymed thirty-seven, they returned home, as is their manner, in great triumph, with the heads of the slayne Frenchmen. Thus, it is too apparent there are Indians upon Newfoundland, by the mischief that they have done. But that you might be further informed of what good hath and might have been done amongst them, take notice of those which follows: -- It is very well known that in times past many French and Biscaners have traded with the natives of the country for furs and deere skins. For some yeares they continued their traffique every fishing season, and it was sometimes intermitted as quarrells arose betwixt them. About twenty years since, Alderman Guy, of Bristoll, that had continued with his family two years in Newfoundland, and amongst his other designs aymed at a trade with the Indians, employed for that purpose, one Capt. Whittington, into the bottom of Trinity Baye, a place always frequented with the natives, and which the captaine havinge discovered a company ashore, commanded his /24/ men to land him alone, upon a place where there was a fordable river betwixt him and them. After some signs made betwixt them on either side, one of the Indians waded through the water, and when he came near the captaine he threwe up his bow and arrows in token of peace, and upon that they mett and embraced, but the Indian feelinge a short fancion, which the captaine wore under a close coat, he retired, expressing signs of dislike and feare. And the captaine understanding his meaninge, threwe aside his sword alsoe, as the other had done before his bow and arrowes. Upon that more Indians upon the other side of the river were called over, and the captaine caused his servante aboarde the boat to bring ashore provisions of meate and drinke to entertayne them. They did eate and drinke together for the space of three or foure houres, and exchange furs and deere skins for hatchets and knives, and appointed a meeting the next year by a signe (as is their manner in other parts of America) when the grass should be of such a height, to bring downe all their furs and skinnes for traffique with the English. Upon these terms they parted. And it soe fell out the next yeare, that at the time appointed for their meetinge in the same place, instead of Captaine Whittington or other agents for the Alderman, there came a fisherman to the place to make a voyage, and seeing a companie of Indians together, not knowing the cause of their coming, let fly his shots from aboard amongst them. And they, imagininge these to be the men in all likelyhood which agreed upon the meetinge the yeare before retyred presently into the woode, and from that daye to this have sought all occasion every fishinge season, to do all the mischief they can, amongst the fishermen. Yet are we not of hope, but if it be our fortune to light upon them, they may be brought by faire intreatie, to trade again, which we assure ourselves may be very profitable to the lorde, and other adventurers, when it shall be our good happ to make the natives acquainted with our good intentions towards them."
Sir David Kirke came to Newfoundland in 1638, and settled at Ferryland, taking possession of Lord Baltimore's deserted house. Here he remained till his death in 1656(?), after which Lord Baltimore's son, Cecil, renewed his claim to the place.
In 1640, John Downing was sent out by the company to replace Kirke(?) at Ferryland. In the instructions to Downing is the following-: "We would have you inform yourself in the best manner you can conferring with Sir David Kirke and other wise, what course is best to be taken for planting of people in ye country, and for the reducing the Indians that live in Newfoundland into civility, that soe they may be brot, in time to know God."
Captain Wheeler, Commander of an English Convoy, in 1684,
says, "The French
begin to fish eighteen leagues north of Bonavista for forty (40)
leagues along the N.E. coast,
and are at utter variance with the Indians, who are numerous, and
so the French never reside
in winter, and always have their arms by them."
1. On one of the islands of the Azores, supposed to be a remnant of this "Atlantis", a life sized equestrian statue, in bronze, was found on the top of a mountain. -- James Stanier Clarke.
2. This latter statement refutes itself in as much, that the Atlantic Ocean could not hold so great a land area, unless, indeed, "Atlantis" were joined to the American Continent.
3. Mr. Albert S. Gatschet does not agree with this conclusion.
4. Most probably Halibut which is quite abundant on these shores.
5. Spanish name for Cod.
6. Webster defines this term "latten" to mean thin sheets of burnished brass, or tin-plate, but it is so improbable the natives should possess such things. I conclude it may have been sheets of mica (?).
7. This is not correct. The hair was always black; presumably it was smeared with red ochre, which explains the mistake (?).
8. Prowse's History of Newfoundland.
9. It was the same line extended southward, which gave Brazil to Portugal.
10. Damiano Goes, Chronica do felicissimo Rey Dom Emanuel.
11. Intestines of seals (?).
12. "Esquimaio" is the Algonquin term for raw flesh eaters.
13. Cantino, who examined closely the natives brought from this place in 1501, adds that "they were of a stature higher than ours with limbs in proportion, and well formed."
14. This would seem to imply that he was writing of the Eskimos.
15. Hence our word, fuliginous, sooty, smoky, dusky.
16. This is the only reference I know of as to the Beothucks tatooing themselves. I think it doubtful. Yet otherwise the reference seems to point clearly to the inhabitants of Newfoundland.
17. There are two groups of Penguin Islands on our coast, one off the southern side, near Cape La Hune, the other at the entrance to Sir Chas. Hamilton's Sound.
18. The Great Auk (?) (Alca Impennis).
19. No doubt an ornamented moccasin.
20. This again refers to the Eskimos, "Raw flesh-eaters."
21. Some authors contend that Frobisher did not visit Newfoundland at all and that the people he refers to were inhabitants of the Labrador.
22. From Barrow's Voyages, 1818, Haies says, "For the solace of our people, and allurement of the savages, we were provided of music in good varietie; not omitting the least toyes, as Morris-dancers, hobby-horses, and many like conceits, to delight the savage people whom we intended to winne by all faire means possible. And to that end we were indifferently furnished of all petty haberdasherie wares to barter with the people."
23. Now Ferryland, site of Lord Baltimore's Colony.
24. In the instructions to John Guy, from the Association, amongst other items appears the following: "And we would have you to assay by all good means to capture one of the savages, of the country and to intreate him well, and to keep him and teach him our language, that you may after obtayne a safe and free commerce with them, which are strong there." (Prowse's History, p.96).
25. Spread Eagle (?).
26. Caribou; no Elk in Newfoundland.
27. The Gulf of St. Lawrence, inside Belle Isle Straits.
28. In this, Whitbourne is entirely astray. They certainly did frequent the southern parts of the island. Their stone implements have been found in many places in Conception and Placentia Bays, and over the Peninsula of Avalon, even in the immediate vicinity of St. John's city.
29. Esquimaux dogs (?).
30. I have a suspicion that the savages here referred to were not Beothucks, but mountaineers from Labrador, who frequently came across the strait to hunt in Newfoundland. In 1630, Charles I issued a proclamation prohibiting disorderly trading with the natives (presumably against supplying them with liquor).
31. By Henry Kirke, M.A., B.C.L., Oxon.
32. I think it most probable Kirke is here referring to the same event as mentioned by Harrisse, but must have mistaken the date.