“They came towards us with evident delight, raising loud shouts of admiration, and showing us where we could most securely land with our boat. We passed up this river about half a league, when we found it formed a most beautiful lake three leagues in circuit, upon which they were rowing thirty or more of their small boats, from one shore to the other, filled with multitudes who came to see us. All of a sudden, as is wont to happen to navigators, a violent contrary wind blew in from the sea, and forced us to return to our ship, greatly regretting to leave this region which seemed so commodious and delightful, and which we supposed must also contain great riches, as the hills showed many indications of minerals.”
In the year 1609, a band of Dutch merchants, called the East India Company, fitted out an expedition to discover a northeast passage to the Indies. They built a vessel of about eighty tons burden, called the Half Moon, and manning her with twenty sailors, entrusted the command to an Englishman, Henry Hudson. He sailed from the Texel in his solitary vessel, upon this hazardous expedition, on the 6th of April, 1609. Doubling North Cape amid storms and fog and ice, after the rough voyage of a month, he became discouraged, and determined to change his plan and seek a northwest passage.
Crossing the Atlantic, which, in those high latitudes, seems ever to be swept by storms, he laid in a store of codfish on the banks of Newfoundland, and, on the 17th of July, ran his storm-shattered bark into what is now known as Penobscot Bay, on the coast of Maine. Here he found the natives friendly. He had lost his foremast in a storm, and remained at this place a week, preparing a new one. He had heard in Europe that there was probably a passage through the unexplored continent, to the Pacific ocean, south of Virginia. Continuing his voyage southward, he passed Cape Cod, which he supposed to be an island, and arrived on the 18th of August at the entrance of Chesapeake Bay. He then ran along the coast in a northerly direction and entered a great bay with rivers, which he named South River, but which has since received the name of the Delaware.
Still following the coast, he reached the Highlands of Neversink, on the 2d of September, and at three o’clock in the afternoon of the same day, came to what then seemed to him to be the mouths of three large rivers. These were undoubtedly the Raritan, the Narrows, and Rockaway Inlet. After careful soundings he, the next morning, passed Sandy Hook and anchored in the bay at but two cables’ length from the shore. The waters around him were swarming with fish. The scenery appeared to him enchanting. Small Indian villages were clustered along the shores, and many birch canoes were seen gliding rapidly to and fro, indicating that the region was quite densely populated, and that the natives were greatly agitated if not alarmed by the strange arrival.