O-Brazile or the Enchanted Island
Being a Perfect Relation of the late Discovery and Wonderful Dis-Inchantment of an Island on the North of Ireland:
With an Account of the Riches and Commodities thereof.
Communicated by a Letter from London-derry, to a Friend in London.
London, Printed for William Crook, at the Green Dragon without Temple-Barr. 1675.
I Have received yours of the 12th of February, and the Printed Relation of the certain Death of that Arch-Pirate Captain Cusacke; of whose Death, all our Merchants here in Ireland, are very glad; especially my Cousin Matthew Calhoon, from whom, Cusacke took the last Vessel; which, it seems, brought him to his deserved fatal end. And in requital of your News concerning Cusacke, I shall acquaint you with a Story no less true; but I believe much more strange and wonderful, concerning the Discovery of that long-talk't-of Island O-Brazile, which (I believe) you have often heard of.
I know there are, in the World, many Stories, and Romances, concerning Inchanted Islands, Castles and Towers, &c. And that our King's Dominions may in nothing be inferiour to any other Nation, we have had an Inchanted Island, upon the North of Ireland, long talkt of. And, indeed, when I went first into the Kingdom of Ireland to live, and heard those many Stories, which were common in every Mans mouth, concerning the Island of O-Brazile, (as they call'd it) which multitudes reported often to be seen upon the Coast of Ʋlster in that Kingdom; yet I lookt upon it as a perfect Romance, and many times laught the Reporters to scorn: Though many Sober, and Religious persons, would constantly affirm, That in bright days, (especially in Summer-time) they could perfectly see a very large absolute Island; but, after long looking at it, it would disappear. And sometimes one Friend and Neighbor, would one call another to behold it, until there would be a considerable Number together; every of which, would not be persuaded but that they perfectly saw it: and some of them, have made towards it with Boats; but when they have come to the place where they thought it was, they have found nothing. And many old People in the Countrey, would tell many old probable Stories, how it came first to be Inchanted. I confess there were (in those days) two things made me a little to wonder:
1. How it came to be inserted into many of our both Ancient and Modern Maps, (as you, or any Man may find it is) by the name of O-Brazile.
2. The other is, What moved your Cousin, (that, you know, dyed but within these four or five years at Glass-lough) who was a wise Man, and a great Scholar, to put himself to the charges and trouble, (in the late King's time) to take out a Patent for it, whensoever it should be gained: Certainly he, and those that counselled him to it, lookt upon it, as some Inchanted (if any such thing there be) Kingdom or Island, that, in time, might be recovered. And since the Happy Restauration of His Majesty that now Reigns, many Reports have been, That it hath been Dis-inchanted, or Taken. Yea, in the time of the Sitting of the last Parliament in Dublin, (in the year 1663.) one coming out of Ʋlster, assured the House of Commons, (whereof he was a Member) That the Inchantment was broken, and it gained: but it proved not so. And about two years after, a certain Quaker pretended that he had a Revelation from Heaven, that he was the Man ordained to take it, with a new Ship built by his Inspiration, &c. And in order thereunto, he built a Vessel. But what became of him, or his Enterprize, I never heard; it seems the full time was not then come. I assure you (dear Cousin) I was not then so unwilling to believe it, as now I am certain of it, from very good hands. But whether (in the Original) it have been a Trick of Rome, one of the Works and Mysteries of Babylon, I cannot say, neither dare I dispute: But this I am sure of, That the Time, or Inchantment, (or what you please to call it) is now out, and the Island fully discovered, or taken, And the manner, briefly, thus:
There is one Captain John Nisbet, who lived formerly at Lisneskey in the County of Fermanagh; this Man left Lisneskey seven or eight years since, and came to live at Killebegs in the Barony of Boylagh and Bannagh, in the County of Dunnegall, in Ʋlster, (a Corporation you know right well.) This Man, Captain Nisbet, since he came to Killebegs, hath fraught out several Vessels to France and Holland, &c. with such Merchandize as that Countrey afforded. And in September last, he fraught out a Vessel of about 70 Tuns, laden with Butter, Tallow, and Hydes, for France, which was to bring back French Wines. Which Vessel being returning, and near the Coasts of Ireland (as they thought) upon the second of this instant March, 1674. after a most clear frosty Night, in the Morning about the time of Sun-rising, of a sudden, there fell a most terrible thick Mist or Fog, upon the Sea round about them; which continued the space of about three hours and then cleared up again, very bright. But when the Mist was vanisht, they found themselves upon a certain Coast, close by the shore; and of a sudden also, a very high wind, driving them still nearer to the Land. When the Master, and the rest with him (who were but eight persons in all, viz. James mac Donnel the Master, Alexander Johnson Skipper, James Ross Carpenter, and five Mariners) saw themselves so near an unknown shore, and could not imagine what place it should be; for though they knew most of the shores of Ireland and Scotland, yet they could not possibly give any guess where they then were. Finding themselves therefore so near Land, and some little Rocks not far off them, the Master gave orders to sound what Water they had; and finding it not three Fathoms, they thought it was the best course to strike Sail, and drop an Anchor, (which accordingly they did) until they might inform themselves where they were.
And having cast Anchor, they resolved to set four of their eight Men ashore, to see if they could learn where they were; and how to get off: which, after they had taken down their Boat, they did. The Persons that were to goe were the Carpenter James Ross, and three Marriners, who took with them Swords and Pistols. Presently after Landing, they past through a little Wood, and within less than an English mile, in a most pleasant green Valley (wherein were many Cattel, Horses and Sheep feeding) they saw a very strong-like Castle appearing, unto which they repaired, and called, thinking to find some that might direct them where they were, and what to do: but after they had long knockt, and saw, nor heard any creature, (not so much as a Dog) answer, they concluded it was some waste place, and therefore left it. And going farther up a most pleasant green Hill, they saw multitudes of black Rabbets, about a mile from the Castle: but when they came to the height thereof, look which way they pleased, they could see neither Man, Woman, Child, nor House. At last, having ranged 2 or 3 hours about the Countrey, and lighting of none to enquire of, they returned again to their Boat, and told their fellows aboard, what success they had had; whereupon their fellows calling for the Boat, resolved to come ashore also, all but one Mariner; which they did, and dividing themselves into two parts, one part took to the right-hand shore, the other to the left; both parties wandring up and down, until toward 4 of the clock in the afternoon, but neither of them saw any people to enquire of; but much Cattel, Dear, Rabbets, &c. But afar off in the Countrey, they saw great Woods, into which they durst not venture: so that both parties returned again to their Boat, At last the weather being very cold, and drawing towards night, finding abundance of old dry Wood, in the side of the above-named little Wood, near unto the shore, they resolved to make a great Fire, against a great old Oak, that was fallen down with age; and in order thereunto, some brought Wood, and some others struck fire: at last, having made a rowzing Fire, and sitting warming themselves, discoursing, and taking Tobacco; of a suddain they heard a most terrible, hideous noise, towards that place; especially where they saw the old Castle, and almost all over the Island, which did so terrify and amaze them, that they presently left their Fire, took their Boat, and went all aboard as fast as they could; where they continued in great fear all night: yet neither could, nor durst stir out to Sea; because when they sounded again, they had not two fathoms of Water, and the wind directly against them.
The next morning, as soon as the Sun was risen, they saw a very antient grave Gentleman, and ten Men following him bare-headed (as if his servants) coming towards the shore where the Ship lay, and being come close to the water side, the old Gentleman calling to the Master (in the old Scotch Language) who with the rest stood upon the Deck, askt him, from whence they came? whither they were bound? and with what they were laden? The Master answered, They came from France, were laden with French Wines, with which they were bound to Killy-beggs, in the County of Dunegall in Ireland, if it pleased God to give them leave; then the old Gentleman askt them, how they came thither? and whether they knew where they were? or how to get forth? The Master told him, that before the great Fogg fell upon them yesterday, they thought they were near the coast of Ireland: but where they now were, or how to get off, he knew not in the least, Then the grave Gentleman told them, if they would please to come ashore again, they should be courteously entertained, told where they were, well rewarded, and guided to their own coast. Then the Master askt whether they should have no wrong or harm done to themselves, nor Vessel, if they came ashore? the old man promised they should not: whereupon, the Master and the rest, seeing no Arms with them, resolved, six of them should come ashore, well armed.
Assoon as they were landed, the old Gentleman embraced them one by one; telling them, they were the most happy sight that Island had seen some hundred of years; that the Island was called O Brazile; that his Ancestors were sometimes Princes of it; telling them also, that he and several other persons of quality, by the malicious, diabolical Art, of a great Negromancer, had been tyrannically shut up in the Castle they knockt at yesterday, in which, several of their Progenitors had ended their miserable days; and the whole Island, a Receptacle of Furies, made (to Mortals) unserviceable, and invisible, until now, that the cursed time was expired; which (saith he) continued until the last day of the last month, but 3 or 4 days since. Being asked, why none answered in the Castle yesterday, when the Marriners knockt so long? he answered, that though the wicked time was expired, and that now the Island was visible, and any might come upon it; yet he and the rest had neither power to answer any that spoke to them, nor free themselves from imprisonment, until Fire was kindled upon the Island by some good Christians. Being askt, whether it was now absolutely free, and would never be inchanted again? he told them, it was now absolutely free; and should never be troubled again: but all the powers of darkness, when they heard that hideous noise, were finally departed.
After which words, he led them towards the said Castle; (the chief Tower being, as it were demolished) where met them several other grave persons, both Men and Women: who all embraced the Master, and the rest, giving them many thanks; then the other two were fetcht out of the Vessel, and all nobly Feasted, and Richly rewarded, and shewed the Glory and Riches of the said Island, which they say is above 60 miles in length, and above 30 in breadth; abounding with Horses, Cows, Sheep, Staggs, Rabbets, but no Swine, and all sorts of Fowls; and rich Mines of Silver and Gold, but few People, and little or no Corn: there have been Cities and great Towns, but all consumed.
The Men being richly rewarded, were conducted to their Vessel; and shewed the way out of the Harbor, and directed the way to their own Coast; and came the next day at night to Killy-beggs, where they acquainted the Minister of the Town, and many other persons of quality in the Countrey, who gave no extraordinary credit to their words at first, until the Master and the rest shewed them many of the pieces of Gold and Silver, which were given them there, which were large, and of a most antient stamp, somewhat rusty, yet pure Gold; the Master also offering immediately, to carry any Gentlemen to the said Island, that desired to know the further truth. Whereupon some Gentlemen of the Countrey, within three days after, sent out another Vessel, and the above named Alexander Johnson, Skipper, and some of the former Marriners to guide her, to prove whether it were true or no; who brought them to the said Island; where they were nobly entertained, and returned in safety, with several Gifts, which were bestowed upon them: as also some further Relation of the nature of the Countrey. Since then, several Godly Ministers and others, are gone to visit, and discourse them (but at the writing hereof, I heard nothing of their return) who, doubtless, will bring a more perfect relation. Dear Cousen, you need not be afraid to relate this, for I assure you, beside the general discourse of the Gentlemen in the Countrey, I had it from Captain Nisbet his own mouth, (whose the Vessel, &c. was) since which, several Gentlemen have sent an express, with the true Relation of it, under their Hands and Seals, to some eminent persons in Dublin. Thus not troubling you any further at present, I rest,
Londonderry, March 14.1674.
Your Most affectionate Cousen and Servant, William Hamilton.
I think your young Cousen Lesly is still in London, if you can enquire him out, pray shew him this Relation; it may be it may concern him, because his Father had a Patent for it.