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19 February 1608

17th century drawing of a crocodile

A crocodile

I have never in my life been so sickened by a sight. Yesterday we arrived at an island on the other side of Africa that the men call St Lawrence. I had heard that we would find good shelter and good food here, but it wasn’t the case – and so we are even more relieved that our General allowed us to stop in Saldania. This is a large island, it seems to me, so perhaps we are in the wrong bit of it? In any case, the people do not value the beads and other things that we were able to use to buy food before we came to this side of Africa. I am learning that people in different parts of the world may value things in different ways. But I am forgetting the reason why I picked up my pen. There is a monster that lives in the river here – it is like a snake with the head of a hog, but also with legs and claws, and it is between the size of a sheep and a cow. The men called it a crock-o-dial. I have never seen anything like it before. It attacked a man called George who was trying to wash his shirt in the river, and tried to pull him under the water. George managed to kick the monster and get back in our boat, and he didn’t seem to realise at first that he no longer had one of his legs. I will never forget the look on his face when he noticed. I wonder if he will live, and how he will manage without his leg all this way from home.

Ship's boy



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"the Generall not beinge well, our Captaine wth the two pinnase[s] well manned wente one shore to seeke out for some refreshment, and havinge Landed, walked up a littell way and might perceave that Cattell had bene their, & wth all they sawe certen luggog[e] of the peoplles of the Cuntrey. Wheare leavinge some beades & other toyes to entice them to come downe to us, after awhile returninge him selfe to the bootes, he founde one of his men sore hurt wth a Crockadile or alligator wch had seised uppon the mannes Legge, whose name was George Evnes, as hee had benne washinge a sherte by the boates side, and tugged him over a River, beinge shoale water. But hee findinge himselfe in such sorte halled away, and being amassed, footed the Crokadile wth his other foote, and soe, by greate Chance, bracke from him sore wounded and recovered the boate, mackinge no other accountpte but that his foote was gonne till hee sawe yt the hinder parte of the smalle of his Legge was bytten cleane asunder, both Flesh and synewes to the bone. And had the alligator gott him into deepe water, asuredly he had bene carried clene away."

The Anonymous Hector Journal; cited in Richmond Barbour, The Third Voyage Journals (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 69

S. Münster. 1600: A crocodile

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