|Letter No. II.
Concurrently with the preceding, William Adams addressed a letter to his wife, of which a fragment has been preserved by Purchas. It contains some interesting additional touches that contribute to the completion of the picture already given.
WILLIAM ADAMS TO HIS WIFE.
Louing wife, you shall vnderstand how all things haue passed with mee from the time of mine absence from you. We set saile with fiue ships from the Texel, in Holland, the foure and twentieth of Iune 1598. And departed from the coast of England the fift of Iuly. And the one and twentieth of August, we came to one of the isles of Capo Verde, called Sant' Iago, where we abode foure and twentie dayes. In which time many of our men fell sicke, through the vnwhol- somenesse of the aire, and our generall among the rest. Now the reason that we abode so long at these ilands was, that one of the captaines of our fleet made our generall beleeue that at these ilands we should find great store of refreshing, as goats and other things, which was vntrue. Here I and all the pilots of the fleet were called to a councell ; in which wee all shewed our iudgements of disliking the place ; which were by all the captaines taken so ill, that afterward it was agreed by them all, that the pilots should be no more in the councell, the which was executed. The fifteenth day of September we departed from the isle of Sant' Iago, and passed the equinoctiall line. And in the latitude of three degrees to the south, our generall dyed : where, with many contrarie windes and raine, the season of the yeare being very much past, wee were forced vpon the coast of Guiney, falling vpon an head-land called Cabo de Spirito Sancto. The new generall commanded to bear vp with Cape de Lopo Consalues, there to seeke refreshing for our men, the which we did. In which place we landed all our sicke men, where they did not much better, for wee could find no store of victuals. The nine and twentieth of December, wee set saile to goe on our voyage, and in our way we fell with an island called Illha da Nobon, where we landed all our sicke men, taking the iland by force. Their towne contayned some eightie houses. Hauing refreshed our men, we set saile againe. At which time our generall commanded, that a man for foure dayes should haue but one pound of bread, that was a quarter of a pound a day ; with a like proportion of wine and water. Which scarcitie of victuals brought such feeblenesse, that our men fell into so great weaknesse and sicknesse for hunger, that they did eate the calves' skinnes wherewith our ropes were couered.
The third of Aprill 1599, we fell in with the Port of Saint Iulian. And the sixt of Aprill we came into the Straight of Magellan to the first narrow. And the eighth day we passed the second narrow with a good wind, where we came to an anchor, and landed on Penguin Island, where we laded our boate ful of penguins, which are fowles greater then a ducke, wherewith we were greatly refreshed. The tenth, we weighed anchor, hauing much wind, which was good for vs to goe thorow. But our generall would water, and take in prouision of wood for all our fleet. In which straight there is enough in euery place, with anchor ground in all places, three or foure leagues one from another. In the meane time, the wind changed, and came southerly, so we sought a good harbour for our ship on the north-side, foure leagues off Elizabeth's Bay. All Aprill being out, wee had wonderfull much snow and ice, with great winds. For in April, May, Iune, Iuly, and August, is the winter there, being in fiftie-two degrees by south the equinoctiall. Many times in the winter we had the wind good to goe through the straights, but our generall would not. We abode in the straight till the foure and twentieth of August 1599. On the which day wee came into the South Sea ; where sixe or seuen dayes after, in a greater stonne, we lost the whole fleet one from another. The storme being long, we were driuen into the latitude of fiftie-foure degrees, by south the equinoctiall. The weather breaking vp, and hauing good wind againe, the ninth of October we saw the admirall, of which we were glad ; eight or ten dayes after, in the night, hauing very much wind, our fore-sayle flew away, and wee lost companie of the admirall. Then, according to wind and weather, we directed our course for the Coast of Chili, where the nine and twentieth of October we came to the place appointed of our generall in fortie-sixe degrees, where wee set vp a pinnesse, and stayed eight and twentie dayes. In this place we found people, with whom wee had friendship fiue or sixe dayes, who brought vs sheep ; for which we gaue them bels [? bills] and kniues, and it seemed to vs they were contented. But shortly after they went all away from the place where our ship was, and we saw them no more.
Eight and twentie dayes being expired, we set sayle, minding to goe for Baldivia. So wee came to the mouth of the bay of Baldivia. And being very much wind, our captaines minde changed, so that we directed our course for the isle of Mocha. The first of Nouember, we came to the ile of Mocha, lying in the latitude of eight and thirtie degrees. Hauing much wind, we durst not anchor, but directed our course for Cape Sancta Maria, two leagues by south the iland of Sancta Maria; where, hauing no knowledge of the people, the second of Nouember our men went on land, and the people of the land fought with our men, and hurt eight or nine ; but in the end, they made a false composition of friendship, which our men did beleeue. The next day, our captaine, and three and twentie of our chiefe men, went on land, meaning for marchandize to get victualls, hauing wonderfull hunger. Two or three of the people came straight to our boat in friendly manner, with a kind of wine and rootes, with making tokens to come on land, making signes that there were sheep and oxen. Our captaine with our men, hauing great desire to get refreshing for our men, went on land. The people of the countrey lay intrenched a thousand and aboue, and straight-way fell vpon our men, and slew them all ; among which was my brother Thomas Adams. By this losse, we had scarse so many men whole as could weigh our anchor. So the third day, in great distresse, we set our course for the Island of Santa Maria, where we found our admirall; whom when we saw, our hearts were some-what comforted : we went aboord them, and found them in as great distresse as we, hauing lost their Generall, with seuen and twentie of their men, slaine at the Island of Mocha, from whence they departed the day before we came by. Here we tooke counsell what we should doe to get victualls. To goe on land by force we had no men, for the most part were sicke. There came a Spaniard by composition to see our shippe. And so the next day he came againe, and we let him depart quietly. The third day came two Spaniards aboord vs without pawne, to see if they could betray vs. When they had seene our shippe, they would haue gone on land againe, but we would not let them, shewing that they came without leaue, and we would not let them goe on land againe without our leaue ; whereat they were greatly offended. We shewed them that we had extreame neede of victualls, and that if they would giue vs so many sheepe, and so many beeues, they should goe on land. So, against their wils, they made composition with vs, which, within the time appointed, they did accomplish. Hauing so much refreshing as we could get, we made all things well againe, our men beeing for the most part recouered of their sickenesse. There was a young man, one Hudcopee, which knew nothing, but had serued the admirall, who was made generall : and the master of our shippe was made vice-admirall, whose name was Iacob Quaternak of Roterdam. So the generall and vice-admirall called me and the other pilote, beeing an Englishman, called Timothy Shotten (which had been with M. Thomas Candish, in his voyage about the world), to take counsell what we should doe to make our voyage for the best profit of our marchants.
At last, it was resolued to goe for Iapon. For by report of one Dirrick Gerritson, which had been there with the Portugals, woollen cloth was in great estimation in that Iland. And we gathered by reason, that the Malucos, and the most part of the East Indies, were hot countreyes, where woolen cloth would not be much accepted : wherefore, we all agreed to goe for Iapon. So, leauing the coast of Chili from thirtie-sixe degrees of south-latitude, the seuen and twentieth of Nouember 1599, we tooke our course directly for Iapon, and passed the line equi-noctiall with a faire wind, which continued good for diuerse moneths. In our way, we fell with certain islands in sixeteene degrees of north latitude, the inhabitants whereof are men-eaters. Comming neere these islands, and hauing a great pinnesse with vs, eight of our men beeing in the pinnesse, ranne from vs with the pinnesse, and (as we suppose) were eaten of the wild men, of which people we tooke one : which afterward the generall sent for to come into his shippe. When wee came into the latitude of seuen and twentie and eight and twentie degrees, we found very variable winds and stormy weather. The foure and twentieth of February, we lost sight of our admirall, which afterward we saw no more : Neuerthelesse, we still did our best, directing our course for Iapon. The foure and twentieth of March, we saw an island called Vna Colonna : at which time many of our men were sicke againe, and diuers dead. Great was the miserie we were in, hauing no more but nine or tenne able men to goe or creepe vpon their knees : our captaine, and all the rest, looking euery houre to die.
The eleuenth of Aprill 1600, we saw the land of Iapon, neere vnto Bungo : at which time there were no more but fiue men of vs able to goe. The twelfth of Aprill, we came hard to Bungo, where many barkes came aboord vs, the people whereof wee willingly let come, hauing no force to resist them ; at which place we came to an anchor. The people offered vs no hurt, but stole all things they could steale ; for which some paid deare afterward. The next day, the king of that land sent souldiers aboord to see that none of the marchants goods were stolen. Two or three dayes after, our shippe was brought into a good harbour, there to abide till the principall king of the whole island had newes of vs, and vntill it was knowne what his will was to doe with vs. In the meane time we got fauour of the king of that place, to get our captaine and sicke men on land, which was granted. And wee had an house appointed vs, in which all our men were laid, and had refreshing giuen them. After wee had beene there fiue or sixe dayes, came a Portugall Iesuite, with other Portugals, who reported of vs, that we were pirats, and were not in the way of marchandizing. Which report caused the gouernours and common-peeple to thinke euill of vs: In such manner, that we looked alwayes when we should be set vpon crosses ; which is the execution in this land for theeuery and some other crimes. Thus daily more and more the Portugalls incensed the justices and people against vs. And two of our men, as traytors, gaue themselues in seruice to the king, beeing all in all with the Portugals, hauing by them their liues warranted. The one was called Gilbert de Conning, whose mother dwelleth at Middleborough, who gaue himselfe out to be marchant of all the goods in the shippe. The other was called Iohn Abelson Van Owater. These traitours sought all manner of wayes to get the goods into their hands, and made knowne vnto them all things that had passed in our voyage. Nine dayes after our arriuall, the great king of the land sent for me to come vnto him. So, taking one man with me, I went to him, taking my leaue of our captaine, and all the others that were sicke, commending my selfe into His hands that had preserued me from so many perils on the sea.
I was carried in one of the king's gallies to the court at Osaca, where the king lay, about eightie leagues from the place where the shippe was. The twelfth of May 1600, I came to the great king's citie, who caused me to be brought into the court, beeing a wonderfull costly house guilded with gold in abundance. Comming before the king, he viewed me well, and seemed to be wonderfull fauourable. He made many signes vnto me, some of which I vnderstood, and some I did not. In the end, there came one that could speake Portuges. By him, the king demanded of me, of what land I was, and what mooued vs to come to his land, beeing so farre off. I shewed vnto him the name of our countrey, and that our land had long sought out the East Indies, and desired friendship with all kings and potentates in way of marchandize, hauing in our land diuerse commodities, which these lands had not : and also to buy such marchandizes in this land, which our countrey had not. Then he asked whether our countrey had warres ? I answered him yea, with the Spaniards and Portugals, beeing in peace with all other nations. Further, he asked me, in what I did beleeue? I said, in God, that made heauen and earth. He asked me diverse other questions of things of religion, and many other things : As what way we came to the country. Hauing a chart of the whole world, I shewed him, through the Straight of Magellan. At which he wondred, and thought me to lie. Thus, from one thing to another, I abode with him till mid-night. And hauing asked mee, what marchandize we had in our shippe, I shewed him all. In the end, he beeing ready to depart, I desired that we might haue trade of marchandize, as the Portugals and Spanyards had. To which he made me an answer : but what it was, I did not vnderstand. So he commanded me to be carried to prison. But two dayes after, he sent for me againe, and enquired of the qualities and conditions of our countreys, of warres and peace, of beasts and cattell of all sorts; and of the heauens. It seemed that he was well content with all mine answers vnto his demands. Neuerthelesse, I was commanded to prison againe : but my lodging was bettered in another place.