The sixth of May (1644), we sailed1 at ten o'clock at night. Our captain was drunk, and knew not what he did; we had lost our passage two or three times by his fault, for in the mornings the wind being contrary, he used to go to the public-house, and when the wind would chop round, he was then incapable of giving orders to the pilots. This drunkard set sail on a sudden and left many respectable passengers ashore, without giving them any notice, who having lost all hope of his weighing anchor so late, were asleep at their inns.
The next morning we met two French vessels from Kinseelle (Kinsale) 2 in Ireland bound to Bristol. About noon we were chased by a vessel of the Parliament
p.2of forty guns,3 and experienced much apprehension, for it was rumoured that the Parliamentarians threw into the sea all the Irish and those of their party, owing to the massacre the Irish had made in their country of the English Protestants, by a zeal for religion, and of which the list registered is, according to the calculation of the Protestants, 145,000 persons.4
We escaped from them under cover of the night.
On the 14th of the month, a sailor being aloft, cried, chore, chore, (shore, shore)5 we discovered the Coast of Wachefort, in the 53rd degree of latitude,6 and bearing away north, we saw to the west a small castle called Wiclos (Wicklow),7 in the latitude 55 degrees 40 minutes.8 The captain of
p.3the vessel, instead of consulting the compass to avoid the head of a sand bank, the most dangerous on this coast of Ireland, kept in conversation with the pilot uselessly, and after half an hour's sail perceived his error, and began to cry, Lord God have pity on us, we are lost!have the anchors ready;furl the sails; we are on the head of the bank.We are only six feet from it.The skiff! the skiff!To the long boat.The oars!O God be merciful to us;by the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord!
We all put our hands to work; and the sailors having taken a rope from the bow of the vessel, fastened it to the skiff and the long boat, and drew us from this danger with much labour and by force of oars.
In the evening, certain vapours rising from the sea, made me believe that it was the land which I saw at the distance of one, two, or three miles. I imagined that I could distinguish trees in great numbers, and even cattle. Looking at this land and wishing to learn its name and what towns it contained, I addressed myself to a Dutch pilot, married in Doublin, who undeceived me, and made the following remarks to me. You are not the first who has erred in the supposition of these things; the most expert navigators are often deceived by them. That which to us appears land is only a dense vapour which cannot be raised higher in consequence of the season and the absence of the sun. Those apparent trees and animals are a part of that miasma which
p.4collects in some places more than in others. When very young, I was on board a Dutch vessel off the coast of Greenland, in 61 degrees of latitude, when we perceived an island of this sort. We sounded without touching the bottom. Finding sufficient water, our captain wished to approach nearer; but we were astonished that all at once it disappeared. Having a different direction we met the same appearance again. The captain desiring to know what it was, ordered them to turn half a mile backwards and forwards to observe it, and after having traversed many times without finding any real land, there arose so furious a tempest, that we expected to perish. And a calm afterwards coming on, we asked the captain why he had surveyed this island. He told us that he had heard say, that near the Pole, there are many islands, some floating, some not, that are seen from a distance, and are hard to be approached, which they say is owing to the witches who inhabit them, and destroy by storms the vessels of those who obstinately seek to land upon them;9 that all he had heard reported and read were but fables, and that he now knew that these floating islands proceeded from the vapours raised, and afterwards attracted by the planets, which vapours the wind dispersed on approaching nearer, and that tempests usually followed these phenomena.10
I thanked him for having explained to me this imaginary land, and as I finished speaking, I saw pass a flock of black birds of the size of a thrush, of which one went at the head and another at the tail. These birds formed a kind of battalion, and went against the wind. This same Dutchman told me that when these birds passed during a calm they augured future wind.11
The 15th of the month we perceived the coast of Doublin, embellished with small castles. We anchored near the city, leaving two large casks on the left hand, which served as marks to avoid the rocks and banks which may be in this place.
The city of Deulin, or Doublin, is the capital of Ireland. It is on the east of the Island; its size equal to that of Angers.12 The quay of the harbour is very fine, but receives only small craft; large vessels remain in the roads, two miles from the city. There is no curiosity except a well which is two or three miles from the city, on the northern coast, which works miracles for the lame and the blind. So say the natives.13 There are fine buildings in Doublin; a college and many churches, amongst which is that of St. Patrick, the apostle of the country.
In the choir are displayed the arms of the old English knights, with their devices. I went there on Sunday to witness the ceremonial attending on the Viceroy. I saw much that was really magnificent. On leaving the church there marched before him a company of footmen, beating the drum, and with match-locks ready for action. Then followed a company of halberdiers, his body-guards, and sixty gentlemen on foot, with four noblemen well mounted, and the Viceroy in the midst upon a white Barbary horse. I followed the train in order to enter more freely into the castle; but at the door they ordered me to lay down my sword, which I would not do, saying, that being born of a condition to carry it before the king, I would rather not see the castle than part with my arms.14 A gentleman in the suite of the Viceroy seeing from my gallant bearing that I was a Frenchman, took me by the hand, saying, Strangers shall on this occasion be more favoured than residents. And he brought me in. I replied to him that his civility equalled that of the French towards his nation, when they met them in France. Being within, I found this castle indifferently strong, without any outworks, and pretty well furnished with guns of cast metal.