Home » Horizons » Italian texts » Dello scoprimento dell'Isole


This is The Discovery of the Islands of Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, and Icaria: Made by Two Brothers Zeno Family Viz: Messire Nicolò, the Chevalier, and Messire Antonio, Major's translation of Nicolò Zen the Younger's account of Nicolò the Elder & Antonio Zen's alleged exploits in the North Atlantic.


In the year of our Lord 1200, there was in the city of Venice a very famous gentleman named Messire Marino Zeno, who, for his great virtue and wisdom, was elected president over some of the republics of Italy; in the government of which he bore himself so discreetly, that his name was beloved and held in great respect, even by those who had never known him personally. Among other honourable actions of his, it is specially recorded that he set at rest some very serious civil disturbances which had arisen among the citizens of Verona, and from which were to be apprehended great provocations to war, had it not been for the interposition of his extreme activity and good advice.

This gentleman had a son named Messire Pietro, who was the father of the Doge Rinieri, who, dying without issue, left his property to Messire Andrea, the son of his brother Messire Marco. This Messire Andrea was Captain-General and Procurator, and held in the highest reputation for his many rare qualities. His son, Messire Rinieri, was an illustrious Senator, and several times Member of the Council. His son was Messire Pietro, Captain-General of the Christian Confederation against the Turks, and bore the name of Dragone because, on his shield, he bore a Dragon in lieu of a Manfrone, which he had borne previously.

He was father of the great Messire Carlo, the famous Procurator and Captain-General against the Genoese in those perilous wars which were organised amongst nearly all the leading princes of Europe against our liberty and empire, and in which, by his great prowess, as Furius Camillus delivered Rome, so he delivered his country from an imminent risk which it ran of falling into the hands of the enemy. On this account he obtained the name of the Lion, which he bore painted on his shield as an enduring memorial of his deeds of prowess. Messire Carlo had two brothers, Messire Nicolò the Chevalier and Messire Antonio, the father of Messire Dragone. This latter was the father of Messire Caterino, father of Messire Pietro, whose son was another Messire Caterino, who died last year, being the father of Nicolò, now living.


Now M. Nicolò, the Chevalier, being a man of great courage, after the aforesaid Genoese war of Chioggia, which gave our ancestors so much to do, conceived a very great desire to see the world and to travel and make himself acquainted with the different customs and languages of mankind, so that when occasion offered, he might be the better able to do service to his country and gain for himself reputation and honour. Wherefore having made and equipped a vessel from his own resources, of which he possessed an abundance, he set forth out of our seas, and passing the Strait of Gibraltar, sailed some days on the ocean, steering always to the north, with the object of seeing England and Flanders.


Nicolò Zen the Younger's map of the Northern Ocean

Being, however, attacked in those seas by a terrible storm, he was so tossed about for the space of many days with the sea and wind that he knew not where he was and at length when he discovered land, being quite unable to bear up against the violence of the storm, he was cast on the Island of Frislanda. The crew, however, were saved, and most of the goods that were in the ship. This was in the year 1380. The inhabitants of the island came running in great numbers with weapons to set upon Messire Nicolò and his men, who being sorely fatigued with their struggles against the storm, and not knowing in what part of the world they were, were not able to make any resistance at all, much less to defend themselves with the vigour necessary under such dangerous circumstances; and they would doubtless have been very badly dealt with, had it not fortunately happened that a certain chieftain was near the spot with an armed retinue. When he heard that a large vessel had just been wrecked upon the island, he hastened his steps in the direction of the noise and outcries that were being made against our poor sailors, and driving away the natives, addressed our people in Latin, and asked them who they were and whence they came; and when he learned that they came from Italy, and that they were men of the same country, he was exceedingly rejoiced. Wherefore promising them all that they should receive no discourtesy, and assuring them that they were come into a place where they should be well used and very welcome, he took them under his protection, and pledged his honour for their safety. He was a great lord, and possessed certain islands called Porlanda, lying not far from Frislanda to the south, being the richest and most populous of all those parts. His name was Zichmni, and besides the said small islands, he was Duke of Sorano, lying over against Scotland.

Of these north parts I have thought good to draw a copy of the sailing chart which I find that I have still amongst our family antiquities, and, although it is rotten with age, I have succeeded with it tolerably well; and to those who take pleasure in such things, it will serve to throw light on the comprehension of that which, without it, could not be so easily understood.

Zichmni then, being such as I have described him, was a warlike, valiant man, and specially famous in naval exploits. Having the year before gained a victory over the King of Norway, who was lord of the island, he, being anxious to win renown by deeds of arms, had come with his men to attempt the conquest of Frislanda, which is an island somewhat larger than Ireland. Whereupon, seeing that Messire Nicolò was a man of judgment, and very experienced in matters both naval and military, he gave him permission to go on board his fleet with all his men, and charged the captain to pay him all respect, and in all things to take advantage of his advice and experience.

This fleet of Zichmni consisted of thirteen vessels, whereof two only were rowed with oars; the rest were small barks and one ship. With these they sailed to the westwards, and with little trouble gained possession of Ledovo and Ilofe and other small islands in a gulf called Sudero, where in the harbour of the country called Sanestol they captured some small barks laden with salt fish. Here they found Zichmni, who came by land with his army, conquering all the country as he went. They stayed here but a little while, and making their course still westwards, they came to the other cape of the gulf, and then turning again they fell in: with certain islands and lands which they brought into possession of Zichmni. This sea through which they sailed, was in a manner full of shoals and rocks; so that had Messire Nicolò and the Venetian mariners not been their pilots, the whole fleet, in the opinion of all that were in it, would have been lost, so inexperienced were Zichmni's men in comparison with ours, who had been, one might say, born, trained up, and grown old in the art of navigation.

Now the fleet having done as described, the captain, by the advice of Messire Nicolò, determined to go ashore at a place called Bondendon, to learn what success Zichmni had had in his wars, and there to their great satisfaction they heard that he had fought a great battle and put to flight the army of the enemy in consequence of which victory, ambassadors were sent from all parts of the island to yield the country up into his hands, taking down their ensigns in every town and village. They decided therefore to stay in that place to await his coming, taking it for granted that he would be there very shortly. On his arrival there were great demonstrations of joy, as well for the victory by land as for that by sea; on account of which the Venetians received from all such great honour and praise that there was no talk but of them, and of the great valour of Messire Nicolò. Whereupon the chieftain, who was a great lover of valiant men, and especially of those that were skilled in nautical matters, caused Messire Nicolò to be brought before him, and after having honoured him with many words of commendation, and complimented his great zeal and skill, by which two things he acknowledged himself to have received a very great and inestimable benefit, viz. the preservation of his fleet and the winning of so many places without any trouble to himself, he conferred on him the honour of knighthood, and rewarded his men with very handsome presents. Departing thence they went in triumphant manner towards Frislanda, the chief city of that island, on the south-east of it, lying inside a bay in which there is such great abundance of fish that many ships are laden therewith to supply Flanders, Brittany, England, Scotland, Norway and Denmark, and by this trade they gather great wealth.


The description thus far is taken from a letter sent by Messire Nicolò to Messire Antonio, his brother, requesting that he would find some vessel to bring him out to him. Whereupon, he having as great a desire as his brother to see the world and make acquaintance with various nations, and thereby make himself a great name, bought a ship, and, directing his course that way, after a long voyage in which he encountered many dangers, at length joined Messire Nicolò in safety, and was received by him with great gladness, not only as being his brother by blood, but also in courage.


Messire Antonio remained in Frislanda and dwelt there fourteen years, four years with Messire Nicolò, and ten years alone. Here they won such grace and favour with the prince that, to gratify M. Nicolò, and still more because he knew full well his value, he made him captain of his navy, and with much warlike preparation they went out to attack Estlanda [ Shetland], which lies off the coast between Frislanda and Norway; here they did much damage, but hearing that the King of Norway was coming against them with a great fleet to draw them off from this attack, they departed under such a terrible gale of wind, that they were driven upon certain shoals and a good many of their ships were wrecked. The remainder took shelter in Grislanda, a large island but uninhabited. The king of Norway's fleet being caught in the same storm, was utterly wrecked and lost in those seas. When Zichmni received tidings of this from one of the enemy's ships that was driven by chance upon Grislanda, he repaired his fleet, and perceiving that the Shetlands lay not far off to the northward, determined to make an attack upon Islanda [or Shetland], which together with the rest was subject to the king of Norway.


Here, however, he found the country so well fortified and defended, that his fleet being but small and very ill-appointed both with weapons and men, he was fain to give up that enterprise without effecting anything, but removed his attack to the other islands in those channels which are called Islande, [or the Shetlands] which are seven in number, viz., Talas, Broas, Iscant, Trans, Mimant, Dambere, and Bres; and having taken them all he built a fort in Bres, where he left Messire Nicolò, with some small vessels and men and stores. For his own part, thinking that he had done enough for the present, he returned with those few ships that remained to him, in all safety to Frislanda. Messire Nicolò being left behind in Bres, determined the next season to make an excursion with the view of discovering land.


Accordingly he fitted out three small barks in the month of July, and sailing towards the North arrived in Engroneland. Here he found a monastery of the order of Friars Preachers, and a church dedicated to St. Thomas, hard by a hill which vomited fire like Vesuvius and Etna. There is a spring of hot water there with which they heat both the church of the monastery and the chambers of the Friars, and the water comes up into the kitchen so boiling hot, that they use no other fire to dress their victuals. They also put their bread into brass pots without any water, and it is baked the same as if it were in a hot oven. They have also small gardens covered over in the winter time, which being watered with this water, are protected against the effect of the snow and cold, which in those parts, being situate far under the pole, are very severe, and by this means they produce flowers and fruits and herbs of different kinds, just as in other temperate countries in their seasons, so that the rude and savage people of those parts, seeing these supernatural effects, take those friars for Gods, and bring them many presents, such as chickens, meat, and other things, holding them as Lords in the greatest reverence and respect. When the frost and snow are very great, these friars heat their houses in the manner described, and by letting in the water or opening the windows, they can in an instant temper the heat and cold of an apartment at their pleasure. In the buildings of the monastery they use no other material than that which is supplied to them by the fire; for they take the burning stones that are cast out like cinders from the fiery mouth of the hill, and when they are at their hottest they throw water on them and dissolve them, so that they become an excellent white lime which is extremely tenacious, and when used in building never decays. These clinkers when cold are very serviceable in place of stones for making walls and arches; for when once chilled they will never yield or break unless they be cut with some iron tool, and the arches built of them are so light that they need no strong support, and are everlasting in their beauty and consistency. By means of these great advantages these good friars have constructed so many buildings and walls that it is a curiosity to witness. The roofs of their houses are for the most part made in the following manner: first, they raise up the wall to its full height; they then make it incline inwards, by little and little, in form of an arch, so that in the middle it forms an excellent passage for the rain. But in those parts they are not much threatened with rain, because the pole, as I have said, is extremely cold, and when the first snow is fallen, it does not thaw again for nine months, which is the duration of their winter. They live on wild fowl and fish; for, where the warm water falls into the sea, there is a large and wide harbour, which, from the heat of the boiling water, never freezes all the winter, and the consequence is, that there is such an attraction for sea-fowl and fish that they are caught in unlimited quantity, and prove the support of a large population in the neighbourhood, which thus finds abundant occupation in building and in catching birds and fish, and in a thousand other necessary occupations about the monastery.

Their houses are built about the hill on every side, round in form, and twenty-five feet broad, and narrower and narrower towards the top, having at the summit a little hole, through which the air and light come into the house; and the ground below is so warm, that those within feel no cold at all. Hither, in summer time, come many vessels from the islands thereabout, and from the Cape above Norway, and from Trondheim, and bring the Friars all sorts of comforts, taking in exchange fish, which they dry in the sun or by freezing, and skins of different kinds of animals. By this means they obtain wood for burning, and admirably carved timber, and corn, and cloth for clothes. For all the countries round about them are only too glad to traffic with them for the two articles just mentioned; and thus, without any trouble or expense, they have all that they want. To this monastery resort Friars from Norway, Sweden, and other countries, but the greater part come from the Shetland Islands. There are continually in the harbour a number of vessels detained by the sea being frozen, and waiting for the next season to melt the ice. The fishermen's boats are made like a weaver's shuttle. They take the skins of fish, and fashion them with the bones of the self-same fish, and, sewing them together and doubling them over, they make them so sound and substantial that it is wonderful to see how, in bad weather, they will shut themselves close inside and expose themselves to the sea and the wind without the slightest fear of coming to mischief. If they happen to be driven on any rocks, they can stand a good many bumps without receiving any injury. In the bottom of the boats they have a kind of sleeve, which is tied fast in the middle, and when any water comes into the boat, they put it into one half of the sleeve, then closing it above with two pieces of wood and opening the band underneath, they drive the water out and this they do as often as they have occasion, without any trouble or danger whatever.

Moreover, the water of the monastery being sulphureous, is conveyed into the apartments of the principal friars in vessels of brass, or tin, or stone, so hot that it heats the place like a stove, and without carrying with it any stench or offensive odour whatever.

Besides this they have another means of conveying hot water by a conduit under the ground, so that it should not freeze. It is thus conducted into the middle of the court, where it falls into a large vessel of brass that stands in the middle of a boiling fountain. This is to heat their water for drinking and for watering their gardens. In this manner they derive from the hill every comfort that can be desired. These good friars devote the greatest attention to the cultivation of their gardens, and to the erection of handsome, but, above all, commodious buildings, nor are they wanting in ingenious and painstaking workmen for this purpose; for they are very liberal in their payments, and in their gifts to those who bring them fruits and seeds they are unlimited in their generosity. The consequence is that workmen and masters in different handicrafts resort there in plenty, attracted by the handsome pay and good living.

Most of them speak the Latin language, and specially the superiors and principals of the monastery. This is all that is known of Greenland as described by Messire Nicolò, who gives also a special description of a river that he discovered, as may be seen in the map that I have drawn.


At length Messire Nicolò, not being accustomed to such severe cold, fell ill, and a little while after returned to Frislanda, where he died. Messire Antonio succeeded him in his wealth and honours; but although he strove hard in various ways, and begged and prayed most earnestly, he could never obtain permission to return to his own country. For Zichmni, being a man of great enterprise and daring, had determined to make himself master of the sea. Accordingly, he proposed to avail himself of the services of Messire Antonio by sending him out with a few small vessels to the westwards, because in that direction some of his fishermen had discovered certain very rich and populous islands. This discovery Messire Antonio, in a letter to his brother Messire Carlo, relates in detail in the following manner, saving that we have changed some old words and the antiquated style, but have left the substance entire as it was.


Six and twenty years ago four fishing boats put out to sea, and, encountering a heavy storm, were driven over the sea in utter helplessness for many days; when at length, the tempest abating, they discovered an island called Estotiland, lying to the westwards above one thousand miles from Frislanda. One of the boats was wrecked, and six men that were in it were taken by the inhabitants, and brought into a fair and populous city, where the king of the place sent for many interpreters, but there were none could be found that understood the language of the fishermen, except one that spoke Latin, and who had also been cast by chance upon the same island. On behalf of the king he asked them who they were and where they came from; and when he reported their answer, the king desired that they should remain in the country. Accordingly, as they could do no otherwise, they obeyed his commandment, and remained five years on the island, and learned the language. One of them in particular visited different parts of the island, and reports that it is a very rich country, abounding in all good things. It is a little smaller than Iceland, but more fertile; in the middle of it is a very high mountain, in which rise four rivers which water the whole country.

The inhabitants are very intelligent people, and possess all the arts like ourselves; and it is believed that in time past they have had intercourse with our people, for he said that he saw Latin books in the king's library, which they at this present time do not understand. They have their own language and letters. They have all kinds of metals, but especially they abound with gold. Their foreign intercourse is with Greenland, whence they import furs, brimstone and pitch. He says that towards the south there is a great and populous country, very rich in gold. They sow corn and make beer, which is a kind of drink that northern people take as we do wine. They have woods of immense extent. They make their buildings with walls, and there are many towns and villages. They make small boats and sail them, but they have not the loadstone, nor do they know the north by the compass.


For this reason these fishermen were held in great estimation, insomuch that the king sent them with twelve boats to the southwards to a country which they call Drogio; but in their voyage they had such contrary weather that they were in fear for their lives. Although, however, they escaped the one cruel death, they fell into another of the cruellest; for they were taken into the country and the greater number of them were eaten by the savages, who are cannibals and consider human flesh very savoury meat.

But as that fisherman and his remaining companions were able to shew them the way of taking fish with nets, their lives were saved. Every day he would go fishing in the sea and in the fresh waters, and take great abundance of fish, which he gave to the chiefs, and thereby grew into such favour that he was very much liked and held in great consideration by everybody.

As this man's fame spread through the surrounding tribes, there was a neighbouring chief who was very anxious to have him with him, and to see how he practised his wonderful art of catching fish. With this object in view, he made war on the other chief with whom the fisherman then was, and being more powerful and a better warrior, he at length overcame him, and so the fisherman was sent over to him with the rest of his company. During the space of thirteen years that he dwelt in those parts, he says that he was sent in this manner to more than five-and-twenty chiefs, for they were continually fighting amongst themselves, this chief with that, and solely with the purpose of having the fisherman to dwell with them; so that wandering up and down the country without any fixed abode in one place, he became acquainted with almost all those parts.


He says that it is a very great country, and, as it, were, a new world; the people are very rude and uncultivated, for they all go naked, and suffer cruelly from the cold, nor have they the sense to clothe themselves with the skins of the animals which they take in hunting. They have no kind of metal. They live by hunting, and carry lances of wood, sharpened at the point. They have bows, the strings of which are made of beasts' skins. They are very fierce, and have deadly fights amongst each other, and eat one another's flesh. They have chieftains and certain laws among themselves, but differing in the different tribes. The farther you go south-westwards, however, the more refinement you meet with, because the climate is more temperate, and accordingly there they have cities and temples dedicated to their idols, in which they sacrifice men and afterwards eat them. In those parts they have some knowledge and use of gold and silver.


Now this fisherman, after having dwelt so many years in these parts, made up his mind, if possible, to return home to his own country; but his companions despairing of ever seeing it again, gave him God's speed, and remained themselves where they were. Accordingly he bade them farewell, and made his escape through the woods in the direction of Drogio, where he was welcomed and very kindly received by the chief of the place, who knew him and was a great enemy of the neighbouring chieftain; and so passing from one chief to another, being the same with whom he had been before, after a long time and with much toil he at length reached Drogio, where he spent three years. Here by good luck he heard from the natives that some boats had arrived off the coast; and full of hope of being able to carry out his intention, he went down to the seaside, and to his great delight found that they had come from Estotiland. He forthwith requested that they would take him with them, which they did very willingly, and as he knew the language of the country, which none of them could speak, they employed him as their interpreter.

He afterwards traded in their company to such good purpose, that he became very rich, and fitting out a vessel of his own, returned to Frislanda, and gave an account of that most wealthy country to this nobleman [Zichmni]. The sailors, from having had much experience in strange novelties, give full credence to his statements. This nobleman is therefore resolved to send me forth with a fleet towards those parts, and there are so many that desire to join in the expedition on account of the novelty and strangeness of the thing, that I think we shall be very strongly appointed, without any public expense at all. Such is the tenor of the letter I referred to, which I [i.e. Nicolò Zeno, Junior] have here detailed in order to throw light upon another voyage which was made by Messire Antonio.


He set sail with a considerable number of vessels and men, but had not the chief command, as he had expected to have, for Zichmni went in his own person and I have a letter describing that enterprise, which is to the following effect: -

Our great preparations for the voyage to Estotiland were begun in an unlucky hour, for exactly three days before our departure the fisherman died who was to have been our guide; nevertheless Zichmni would not give up the enterprise, but in lieu of the deceased fisherman, took some sailors that had come out with him from the island. Steering westwards, we discovered some islands subject to Frislanda, and passing certain shoals, came to Ledovo, where we stayed seven days to refresh ourselves and to furnish the fleet with necessaries. Departing thence we arrived on the first of July at the Island of Ilofe; and as the wind was full in our favour, we pushed on; but not long after, when we were on the open sea, there arose so great a storm that for eight days we were continuously kept in toil, and driven we knew not where, and a considerable number of the boats were lost.


At length, when the storm abated, we gathered together the scattered boats, and sailing with a prosperous wind, we discovered land on the west. Steering straight for it, we reached a quiet and safe harbour, in which we saw an infinite number of armed people, who came running furiously down to the water side, prepared to defend the island. Zichmni now caused his men to make signs of peace to them, and they sent ten men to us who could speak ten languages, but we could understand none of them, except one that was from Shetland.

He, being brought before our prince, and asked what was the name of the island, and what people inhabited it, and who was the governor, answered that the island was called Icaria, and that all the kings that reigned there were called Icari, after the first king, who as they said, was the son of Daedalus, King of Scotland, who conquered that island, left his son there for king, and gave them those laws that they retain to the present time that after this, when going to sail further, he was drowned in a great tempest; and in memory of his death that sea was called to this day the Icarian Sea, and the kings of the island were called Icari; that they were contented with the state which God hath given them, and would neither alter their laws nor admit any stranger.

They therefore requested our prince not to attempt to interfere with their laws, which they had received from that king of worthy memory, and observed up to the present time: that the attempt would lead to his own destruction, for they were all prepared to die rather than relax in any way the use of those laws. Nevertheless, that we might not think that they altogether refused intercourse with other men, they ended by saying that they would willingly receive one of our people, and give him an honourable position amongst them, if only for the sake of learning my language and gaining information as to our customs, in the same way as they had already received those other ten persons from ten different countries, who had come into their island.

To all this our prince made no reply, beyond enquiring where there was a good harbour, and making signs that he intended to depart. Accordingly, sailing round about the island, he put in with all his fleet in full sail, into a harbour which he found on the eastern side. The sailors went on shore to take in wood and water, which they did as quickly as they could, for fear they might be attacked by the islanders and not without reason, for the inhabitants made signals to their neighbours with fire and smoke, and taking to their arms, the others coming to their aid, they all came running down to the seaside upon our men with bows and arrows, so that many were slain and several wounded. Although we made signs of peace to them, it was of no use, for their rage increased more and more, as though they were fighting for their own very existence.

Being thus compelled to depart, we sailed along in a great circuit about the island, being always followed on the hill tops and along the sea coasts by an infinite number of armed men. At length, doubling the northern cape of the island, we came upon many shoals, amongst which we were for ten days in continual danger of losing our whole fleet; but fortunately all that while the weather was very fine. All the way till we came to the east cape, we saw the inhabitants still on the hill tops and by the sea coast, keeping with us, howling and shooting at us from a distance to show their animosity towards us. We therefore resolved to put into some safe harbour, and see if we might once again speak with the Shetlander, but we failed in our object for the people, more like beasts than men, stood constantly prepared to beat us back if we should attempt to come on land.


Wherefore Zichmni, seeing that he could do nothing, and that if he were to persevere in his attempt, the fleet would fall short of provisions, took his departure with a fair wind and sailed six days to the westwards: but the wind afterwards shifting to the south-west, and the sea becoming rough, we sailed four days with the wind aft, and at length discovering land, as the sea ran high and we did not know what country it was, were afraid at first to approach it; but by God's blessing, the wind lulled, and then there came on a great calm.

Some of the crew then pulled ashore, and soon returned to our great joy with news that they had found an excellent country and a still better harbour. Upon this we brought our barks and our boats to land, and on entering an excellent harbour, we saw in the distance a great mountain that poured forth smoke, which gave us good hope that we should find some inhabitants in the island; neither would Zichmni rest, although it was a great way off, without sending a hundred soldiers to explore the country, and bring an account of what sort of people the inhabitants were. Meanwhile, they took in a store of wood and water, and caught a considerable quantity of fish and sea fowl. They also found such an abundance of birds' eggs, that our men, who were half famished, ate of them to repletion.

Whilst we were at anchor here, the month of June came in, and the air in the island was mild and pleasant beyond description but, as we saw nobody, we began to suspect that this pleasant place was uninhabited. To the harbour we gave the name of Trin, and the headland which stretched out into the sea we called Capo de Trin. After eight days the hundred soldiers returned, and brought word that they had been through the island and up to the mountain, and that the smoke was a natural thing proceeding from a great fire in the bottom of the hill, and that there was a spring from which issued a certain matter like pitch, which ran into the sea, and that thereabouts dwelt great multitudes of people half wild, and living in caves.

They were of small stature, and very timid for as soon as they saw our people they fled into their holes. They reported also that there was a large river, and a very good and safe harbour. When Zichmni heard this, and noticed that the place had a wholesome and pure atmosphere, a fertile soil, good rivers, and so many other conveniences, he conceived the idea of fixing his abode there, and founding a city. But his people, having passed through a voyage so full of fatigues, began to murmur, and to say that they wished to return to their own homes, for that the winter was not far off, and if they allowed it once to set in, they would not be able to get away before the following summer. He therefore retained only the row boats and such of the people as were willing to stay with him, and sent all the rest away in the ships, appointing me, against my will, to be their captain.


Having no choice, therefore, I departed, and sailed twenty days to the eastwards without sight of any land; then, turning my course towards the south-east, in five days I lighted on land, and found myself on the island of Neome, and, knowing the country, I perceived I was past Iceland; and as the inhabitants were subject to Zichmni, I took in fresh stores, and sailed with a fair wind in three days to Frislanda, where the people, who thought they had lost their prince, in consequence of his long absence on the voyage we had made, received us with a hearty welcome.


What happened subsequently to the contents of this letter, I know not beyond what I gather from conjecture from a piece of another letter, which is to the effect: That Zichmni settled down in the harbour of his newly-discovered island, and explored the whole of the country with great diligence, as well as the coasts on both sides of Greenland, because I find this particularly described in the sea charts; but the description is lost. The beginning of the letter runs thus:--

Concerning those things that you desire to know of me, as to the people and their habits, the animals, and the countries adjoining, I have written about it all in a separate book, which, please God, I shall bring with me. In it I have described the country, the monstrous fishes, the customs and laws of Frislanda, of Iceland, of Shetland, the kingdom of Norway, Estotiland, and Drogio; and, lastly, I have written the life of my brother, the Chevalier, Messire Nicolò, with the discovery which he made, and all about Greenland. I have also written the life and exploits of Zichmni, a prince as worthy of immortal memory as any that ever lived for his great bravery and remarkable goodness. In it I have described the discovery of Greenland on both sides, and the city that he founded. But of this I will say no more in this letter, and hope to be with you very shortly, and to satisfy your curiosity on other subjects by word of mouth.

All these letters were written by Messire Antonio to Messire Carlo his brother; and I [Nicolò the younger] am grieved that the book and many other writings on these subjects have, I don't know how, come sadly to ruin; for, being but a child when they fell into my hands, I, not knowing what they were, tore them in pieces, as children will do, and sent them all to ruin: a circumstance which I cannot now recall without the greatest sorrow. Nevertheless, in order that such an important memorial should not be lost, I have put the whole in order, as well as I could, in the above narrative; so that the present age may, more than its predecessors have done, in some measure derive pleasure from the great discoveries made in those parts where they were least expected; for it is an age that takes a great interest in new narratives and in the discoveries which have been made in countries hitherto unknown, by the high courage and great energy of our ancestors.

Sir Graham