CHAPTER XXI: REMARKS UPON THE VOYAGE.
In speaking of the consequences of Captain Tasman's voyage, it has been very amply shown that this part of Terra Australis, or southern country, has been fully and certainly discovered. To prevent, however, the reader's making any mistake, I will take this opportunity of laying before him some remarks on the whole southern hemisphere, which will enable him immediately to comprehend all that I have afterwards to say on this subject.
If we suppose the south pole to be the centre of a chart of which the equinoctial is the circumference, we shall then discern four quarters, of the contents of which, if we could give a full account, this part of the world would be perfectly discovered. To begin then with the first of these, that is, from the first meridian, placed in the island of Fero. Within this division, that is to say, from the first to the nineteenth degree of longitude, there lies the great continent of Africa, the most southern point of which is the Cape of Good Hope, lying in the latitude of 34 degrees 15 minutes south. Between that and the pole, several small but very inconsiderable islands have been discovered, affording us only this degree of certainty, that to the latitude of 50 degrees there is no land to be found of any consequence; there was, indeed, a voyage made by Mr. Bovet in the year 1738, on purpose to discover whether there were any lands to the south in that quarter or not. This gentleman sailed from Port l'Orient July the 18th, 1738, and on the 1st of January, 1739, discovered a country, the coasts of which were covered with ice, in the latitude of 54 degrees south, and in the longitude of 28 degrees 30 minutes, the variation of the compass being there 6 degrees 45 minutes, to the west.
In the next quarter, that is to say, from 90 degrees longitude to 180 degrees, lie the countries of which we have been speaking, or that large southern island, extending from the equinoctial to the latitude of 43 degrees 10 minutes, and the longitude of 167 degrees 55 minutes, which is the extremity of Van Diemen's Land.
In the third quarter, that is, from the longitude of 150 degrees to 170 degrees, there is very little discovered with any certainty. Captain Tasman, indeed, visited the coast of New Zealand, in the latitude of 42 degrees 10 minutes south, and in the longitude of 188 degrees 28 minutes; but besides this, and the islands of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, we know very little; and therefore, if there be any doubts about the reality of Terra Australis, it must be with respect to that part of it which lies within this quarter, through which Schovten and Le Maire sailed, but without discovering anything more than a few small islands.
The fourth and last quarter is from 270 degrees of longitude to the first meridian, within which lies the continent of South America, and the island of Terra del Fuego, the most southern promontory of which is supposed to be Cape Horn, which, according to the best of observations, is in the latitude of 56 degrees, beyond which there has been nothing with any degree of certainty discovered on this side.
On the whole, therefore, it appears there are three continents already tolerably discovered which point towards the south pole, and therefore it is very probable there is a fourth, which if there be, it must lie between the country of New Zealand, discovered by Captain Tasman, and that country which was seen by Captain Sharpe and Mr. Wafer in the South Seas, to which land therefore, and no other, the title of Terra Australis Incognita properly belongs. Leaving this, therefore, to the industry of future ages to discover, we will now return to that great southern island which Captain Tasman actually surrounded, and the bounds of which are tolerably well known.
In order to give the reader a proper idea of the importance of this country, it will be requisite to say something of the climates in which it is situated. As it lies from the equinoctial to near the latitude of 44 degrees, the longest day in the most northern parts must be twelve hours, and in the southern about fifteen hours, or somewhat more, so that it extends from the first to the seventh climate, which shows its situation to be the happiest in the world, the country called Van Diemen's Land resembling in all respects the south of France. As there are in all countries some parts more pleasant than others, so there seems good reason to believe that within two or three degrees of the tropic of Capricorn, which passes through the midst of New Holland, is the most unwholesome and disagreeable part of this country; the reason of which is very plain, for in those parts it must be excessively hot, much more so than under the line itself, since the days and nights are there always equal, whereas within three or four degrees of the tropic of Capricorn, that is to say, in the latitude 27 degrees south, the days are thirteen hours and a half long, and the sun is twice in their zenith, first in the beginning of December, or rather in the latter end of November, and again when it returns back, which occasions a burning heat for about two months, or something more; whereas, either farther to the south or nearer to the line, the climate must be equally wholesome and pleasant.
As to the product and commodities of this country in general, there is the greatest reason in the world to believe that they are extremely rich and valuable, because the richest and finest countries in the known world lie all of them within the same latitude; but to return from conjectures to facts, the country discovered by De Quiros makes a part of this great island, and is the opposite coast to that of Carpentaria. This country, the discoverer called La Australia del Espiritu Santo, in the latitude of 15 degrees 40 minutes south, and, as he reports, it abounds with gold, silver, pearl, nutmegs, mace, ginger, and sugar-canes, of an extraordinary size. I do not wonder that formerly the fact might be doubted, but at present I think there is sufficient reason to induce us to believe it, for Captain Dampier describes the country about Cape St. George and Port Mountague, which are within 9 degrees of the country described by De Quiros. I say Captain Dampier describes what he saw in the following words: "The country hereabouts is mountainous and woody, full of rich valleys and pleasant fresh-water brooks; the mould in the valleys is deep and yellowish, that on the sides of the hills of a very brown colour, and not very deep, but rocky underneath, yet excellent planting land; the trees in general are neither very straight, thick, nor tall, yet appear green and pleasant enough; some of them bear flowers, some berries, and others big fruits, but all unknown to any of us; cocoa- nut trees thrive very well here, as well on the bays by the sea-side, as more remote among the plantations; the nuts are of an indifferent size, the milk and kernel very thick and pleasant; here are ginger, yams, and other very good roots for the pot, that our men saw and tasted; what other fruits or roots the country affords I know not; here are hogs and dogs, other land animals we saw none; the fowls we saw and knew were pigeons, parrots, cocadores, and crows, like those in England; a sort of birds about the bigness of a blackbird, and smaller birds many. The sea and rivers have plenty of fish; we saw abundance, though we catched but few, and these were cavallies, yellow-tails, and whip-wreys."
This account is grounded only on a very slight view, whereas De Quiros resided for some time in the place he has mentioned. In another place Captain Dampier observes that he saw nutmegs amongst them, which seemed to be fresh-gathered, all which agrees perfectly with the account given by De Quiros; add to this, that Schovten had likewise observed, that they had ginger upon this coast, and some other spices, so that on the whole there seems not the least reason to doubt that if any part of this country was settled, it must be attended with a very rich commerce; for it cannot be supposed that all these writers should be either mistaken, or that they should concur in a design to impose upon their readers; which is the less to be suspected, if we consider how well their reports agree with the situation of the country, and that the trees on the land, and the fish on the coast, corresponding exactly with the trees of those countries, and the fish on the coasts, where these commodities are known to abound within land, seem to intimate a perfect conformity throughout.
The next thing to be considered is, the possibility of planting in this part of the world, which at first sight, I must confess, seems to be attended with considerable difficulties with respect to every other nation except the Dutch, who either from Batavia, the Moluccas, or even from the Cape of Good Hope, might with ease settle themselves wherever they thought fit; as, however, they have neglected this for above a century, there seems to be no reason why their conduct in this respect should become the rule of other nations, or why any other nation should be apprehensive of drawing on herself the displeasure of the Dutch, by endeavouring to turn to their benefit countries the Dutch have so long suffered to lie, with respect to Europe, waste and desert.
The first point, with respect to a discovery, would be to send a small squadron on the coast of Van Diemen's Land, and from thence round, in the same course taken by Captain Tasman, by the coast of New Guinea, which might enable the nations that attempted it to come to an absolute certainty with regard to its commodities and commerce. Such a voyage as this might be performed with very great ease, and at a small expense, by our East India Company; and this in the space of eight or nine months' time; and considering what mighty advantages might accrue to the nation, there seems to be nothing harsh or improbable in supposing that some time or other, when the legislature is more than usually intent on affairs of commerce, they may be directed to make such an expedition at the expense of the public. By this means all the back coast of New Holland and New Guinea might be thoroughly examined, and we might know as well, and as certainly as the Dutch, how far a colony settled there might answer our expectations; one thing is certain, that to persons used to the navigation of the Indies, such an expedition could not be thought either dangerous or difficult, because it is already sufficiently known that there are everywhere islands upon the coast, where ships upon such a discovery might be sure to meet with refreshments, as is plain from Commodore Roggewein's voyage, made little more than twenty years ago.
The only difficulty that I can see would be the getting a fair and honest account of this expedition when made; for private interest is so apt to interfere, and get the better of the public service, that it is very hard to be sure of anything of this sort. That I may not be suspected of any intent to calumniate, I shall put the reader in mind of two instances; the first is, as to the new trade from Russia, for establishing of which an Act of Parliament was with great difficulty obtained, though visibly for the advantage of the nation; the other instance is, the voyage of Captain Middleton, for the discovery of a north-west passage into the south seas, which is ended by a very warm dispute, whether that passage be found or not, the person supposed to have found it maintaining the negative.
Whenever, therefore, such an expedition is undertaken, it ought to be under the direction, not only of a person of parts and experience, but of unspotted character, who, on his return, should be obliged to deliver his journal upon oath, and the principal officers under him should likewise be directed to keep their journals distinctly, and without their being inspected by the principal officer; all which journals ought to be published by authority as soon as received, that every man might be at liberty to examine them, and deliver his thoughts as to the discoveries made, or the impediments suggested to have hindered or prevented such discoveries, by which means the public would be sure to obtain a full and distinct account of the matter; and it would thence immediately appear whether it would be expedient to prosecute the design or not.
But if it should be thought too burdensome for a company in so flourishing a condition, and consequently engaged in so extensive a commerce as the East India Company is, to undertake such an expedition, merely to serve the public, promote the exportation of our manufactures, and increase the number of industrious persons who are maintained by foreign trade; if this, I say, should be thought too grievous for a company that has purchased her privileges from the public by a large loan at low interest, there can certainly be no objection to the putting this project into the hands of the Royal African Company, who are not quite in so flourishing a condition; they have equal opportunities for undertaking it, since the voyage might be with great ease performed from their settlements in ten months, and if the trade was found to answer, it might encourage the settling a colony at Madagascar to and from which ships might, with the greatest conveniency, carry on the trade to New Guinea. I cannot say how far such a trade might be consistent with their present charter; but if it should be found advantageous to the public, and beneficial to the company, I think there can be no reason assigned why it should not be secured to them, and that too in the most effectual manner.
A very small progress in it would restore the reputation of the company, and in time, perhaps, free the nation from the annual expense she is now at, for the support of the forts and garrisons belonging to that company on the coasts of Africa; which would alone prove of great and immediate service, both to the public and to the company. To say the truth, something of this sort is absolutely necessary to vindicate the expense the nation is at; for if the trade, for the carrying on of which a company is established, proves, by a change of circumstances, incapable of supporting that company, and thereby brings a load upon the public, this ought to be a motive, it ought, indeed, to be the strongest motive, for that company to endeavour the extension of its commerce, or the striking out, if possible, some new branch of trade, which may restore it to its former splendour; and in this as it hath an apparent right, so there is not the least reason to doubt that it would meet with all the countenance and assistance from the government that it could reasonably expect or desire.
If such a design should ever be attempted, perhaps the island of New Britain might be the properest place for them to settle. As to the situation, extent, and present condition of that island, all that can be said of it must be taken from the account given by its discoverer Captain Dampier, which, in few words, amounts to this: "The island which I call Nova Britannia has about 4 degrees of latitude, the body of it lying in 4 degrees, the northernmost part in 2 degrees 30 minutes, and the southernmost in 6 degrees 30 minutes. It has about 5 degrees 18 minutes longitude from east to west; it is generally high mountainous land, mixed with large valleys, which, as well as the mountains, appeared very fertile; and in most places that we saw the trees are very large, tall, and thick. It is also very well inhabited with strong, well-limbed negroes, whom we found very daring and bold at several places: as to the product of it, it is very probable this island may afford as many rich commodities as any in the world; and the natives may be easily brought to commerce, though I could not pretend to it in my circumstances." If any objections should be raised from Dampier's misfortune in that voyage, it is easy to show that it ought to have no manner of weight whatever, since, though he was an excellent pilot, he is allowed to have been but a bad commander; besides, the Roebuck, in which he sailed, was a worn-out frigate that would hardly swim; and it is no great wonder that in so crazy a vessel the people were a little impatient at being abroad on discoveries; yet, after all, he performed what he was sent for; and, by the discovery of this island of New Britain, secured us an indisputable right to a country, that is, or might be made, very valuable.
It is so situated, that a great trade might be carried on from thence through the whole Terra Australis on one side, and the most valuable islands of the East Indies on the other. In short, all, or at least most, of the advantages proposed by the Dutch West India Company's joining with their East India Company, of which a large account has already been given, might be procured for this nation, by the establishing a colony in this island of New Britain, and securing the trade of that colony to the African Company by law; the very passing of which law would give the company more than sufficient credit, to fit out a squadron at once capable of securing the possession of that island, and of giving the public such satisfaction as to its importance, as might be requisite to obtain further power and assistance from the State, if that should be found necessary. It would be very easy to point out some advantages peculiarly convenient for that company; but it will be time enough to think of these whenever the African Company shall discover an inclination to prosecute this design. At present I have done what I proposed, and have shown that such a collection of voyages as this ought not to be considered as a work of mere amusement, but as a work calculated for the benefit of mankind in general, and of this nation in particular, which it is the duty of every man to promote in his station; and whatever fate these reflections may meet with, I shall always have the satisfaction of remembering that I have not neglected it in mine, but have taken the utmost pains to turn a course of laborious reading to the advantage of my country.
But, supposing that neither of these companies should think it expedient, or, in other words, should not think it consistent with their interest to attempt this discovery, there is yet a third company, within the spirit of whose charter, I humbly conceive, the prosecution of such a scheme immediately lies. The reader will easily discern that I mean the company for carrying on a trade to the South Seas, who, notwithstanding the extensiveness of their charter, confirmed and supported by authority of parliament, have not, so far as my information reaches, ever attempted to send so much as a single ship for the sake of discoveries into the South Seas, which, however, was the great point proposed when this company was first established. In order to prove this, I need only lay before the reader the limits assigned that company by their charter, the substance of which is contained in the following words:—
"The corporation, and their successors, shall, for ever, be vested in the sole trade into and from all the kingdoms and lands on the east side of America, from the River Oroonoco, to the southernmost part of Terra del Fuego, and on the west side thereof from the said southernmost part of Terra del Fuego, through the South Sea, to the northernmost part of America, and into and through all the countries, islands, and places within the said limits, which are reputed to belong to Spain, or which shall hereafter be found out and discovered within the limits aforesaid, not exceeding 300 leagues from the continent of America, between the southernmost part of the Terra del Fuego and the northernmost part of America, on the said west side thereof, except the Kingdom of Brazil, and such other places on the east side of America, as are now in the possession of the King of Portugal, and the country of Surinam, in the possession of the States-general. The said company, and none else, are to trade within the said limits; and, if any other persons shall trade to the South Seas, they shall forfeit the ship and goods, and double value, one-fourth part to the crown, and another fourth part to the prosecutor, and the other two-fourths to the use of the company. And the company shall be the sole owners of the islands, forts, etc., which they shall discover within the said limits, to be held of the crown, under an annual rent of an ounce of gold, and of all ships taken as prizes by the ships of the said company; and the company may seize, by force of arms, all other British ships trading in those seas."
It is, I think, impossible for any man to imagine that either these limits should be secured to the company for no purpose in the world; or that these prohibitions and penalties should take place, notwithstanding the company's never attempting to make any use of these powers; from whence I infer that it was the intent of the legislature that new discoveries should be made, new plantations settled, and a new trade carried on by this new corporation, agreeable to the rules prescribed, and for the general benefit of this nation; which I apprehend was chiefly considered in the providing that this new commerce should be put under the management of a particular company. But I am very well aware of an objection that may be made to what I have advanced; viz., that, from my own showing, this southern continent lies absolutely without their limits; and that there is also a proviso in the charter of that company that seems particularly calculated to exclude it, since it recites that.
"The agents of the company shall not sail beyond the southernmost parts of Terra del Fuego, except through the Straits of Magellan, or round Terra del Fuego; nor go from thence to any part of the East Indies, nor return to Great Britain, or any port or place, unless through the said straits, or by Terra del Fuego: nor shall they trade in East India goods, or in any places within the limits granted to the united company of merchants of England trading to East India (such India goods excepted as shall be actually exported from Great Britain, and also such gold, silver, wrought plate, and other goods and commodities, which are the produce, growth, or manufactures of the West Indies, or continent of America): neither shall they send ships, or use them or any vessel, within the South Seas, from Terra del Fuego to the northernmost parts of America, above three hundred leagues to the westward of, and distant from the land of Chili, Peru, Mexico, California, or any other the lands or shores of Southern or Northern America, between Terra del Fuego and the northernmost part of America, on pain of the forfeiture of the ships and goods; one-third to the crown, and the other two-thirds to the East India Company."
But the reader will observe that I mentioned the East India and African Companies before; and that I now mention the South Sea Company, on a supposition that the two former may refuse it. In that case, I presume, the legislature will make the same distinction that the States of Holland did, and not suffer the private advantage of any particular company to stand in competition with the good of a whole people. It was upon this principle that I laid it down as a thing certain, that the African company would be allowed to settle the island of Madagascar, though it lies within the limits of the East India Company's charter, in case it should be found necessary for the better carrying on of this trade. It is upon the same principle I say this southern continent lies within the intention of the South Sea Company's charter, because, I presume, the intent of that charter was to grant them all the commerce in those seas, not occupied before by British subjects; for, if it were otherwise, what a condition should we be in as a maritime power? If a grant does not oblige a company to carry on a trade within the limits granted to that company, and is, at the same time, of force to preclude all the subjects of this nation from the right they before had to carry on a trade within those limits, such a law is plainly destructive to the nation's interest and to commerce in general. I therefore suppose, that, if the South Sea Company should think proper to revive their trade in the manner I propose, this proviso would be explained by Parliament to mean no more than excluding the South Sea Company from settling or trading in or to any place at present settled in or traded to by the East India Company: for, as this interpretation would secure the just rights of both companies, and, at the same time reconcile the laws for establishing them to the general interest of trade and the nation, there is the greatest reason to believe this to be the intention of the legislature. I have been obliged to insist fully upon this matter, because it is a point hitherto untouched, and a point of such high importance, that, unless it be understood according to my sense of the matter, there is an end of all hopes of extending our trade on this side, which is perhaps the only side on which there is the least probability that it ever can be extended; for, as to the north-west passage into the South Seas, that seems to be blocked up by the rights of another company; so that, according to the letter of our laws, each company is to have its rights, and the nation in general no right at all.
If, therefore, the settling of this part of Terra Australis should devolve on the South Sea Company, by way of equivalent for the loss of their Assiento contract, there is no sort of question but it might be as well performed by them as by any other, and the trade carried on without interfering with that which is at present carried on, either by the East India or African Companies. It would indeed, in this case, be absolutely necessary to settle Juan Fernandez, the settlement of which place, under the direction of that company, if they could, as very probably they might, fall into some share of the slave-trade from New Guinea, must prove wonderfully advantageous, considering the opportunity they would have of vending those slaves to the Spaniards in Chili and Peru. The settling of this island ought to be performed at once, and with a competent force, since, without doubt, the Spaniards would leave no means unattempted to dispossess them: yet, if a good fortification was once raised, the passes properly retrenched, and a garrison left there of between three and five hundred men, it would be simply impossible for the Spaniards to force them out of it before the arrival of another squadron from hence. Neither do I see any reason why, in the space of a very few years, the plantation of this island should not prove of as great consequence to the South Sea Company as that of Curacao to the Dutch West India Company, who raise no less than sixty thousand florins per annum for licensing ships to trade there.
From Juan Fernandez to Van Diemen's Land is not above two months' sail; and a voyage for discovery might be very conveniently made between the time that a squadron returned from Juan Fernandez, and another squadron's arrival there from hence. It is true that, if once a considerable settlement was made in the most southern part of Terra Australis, the company might then fall into a large commerce in the most valuable East India goods, very probably gold, and spices of all sorts: yet I cannot think that even these would fall within the exclusive proviso of their charter; for that was certainly intended to hinder their trading in such goods as are brought hither by our East India Company; and I must confess I see no difference, with respect to the interest of that company, between our having cloves, cinnamon, and mace, by the South Sea Company's ships from Juan Fernandez, and our receiving them from Holland, after the Dutch East India Company's ships have brought them thither by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. Sure I am they would come to us sooner by some months by the way of Cape Horn. If this reasoning does not satisfy people, but they still remain persuaded that the South Sea Company ought not to intermeddle with the East India trade at all, I desire to know why the West India merchants are allowed to import coffee from Jamaica, when it is well known that the East India Company can supply the whole demand of this kingdom from Mocha? If it be answered that the Jamaica coffee comes cheaper, and is the growth of our own plantations, I reply, that these spices will not only be cheaper, but better, and be purchased by our own manufacturers; and these, I think, are the strongest reasons that can be given.
If it be demanded what certainty I have that spices can be had from thence, I answer, all the certainty that in a thing of this nature can be reasonably expected: Ferdinand de Quiros met with all sorts of spices in the country he discovered; William Schovten, and Jacques le Maire, saw ginger and nutmegs; so did Dampier; and the author of Commodore Roggewein's Voyage asserts, that the free burgesses of Amboyna purchase nutmegs from the natives of New Guinea for bits of iron. All, therefore, I contend for, is that these bits of iron may be sent them from Old England.
The reason I recommend settling on the south coast of Terra Australis, if this design should be prosecuted, from Juan Fernandez, rather than the island of New Britain, which I mentioned before, is, because that coast is nearer, and is situated in a better and pleasanter climate. Besides all which advantages, as it was never hitherto visited by the Dutch, they cannot, with any colour of justice, take umbrage at our attempting such a settlement. To close then this subject, the importance of which alone inclined me to spend so much of mine and the reader's time about it:
It is most evident, that, if such a settlement was made at Juan Fernandez, proper magazines erected, and a constant correspondence established between that island and the Terra Australis, these three consequences must absolutely follow from thence: 1. That a new trade would be opened, which must carry off a great quantity of our goods and manufactures, that cannot, at present, be brought to any market, or at least, not to so good a market as if there was a greater demand for them. 2. It would render this navigation, which is at present so strange, and consequently so terrible, to us, easy and familiar; which might be attended with advantages that cannot be foreseen, especially since there is, as I before observed, in all probability another southern continent, which is still to be discovered. 3. It would greatly increase our shipping and our seamen, which are the true and natural strength of this country, extend our naval power, and raise the reputation of this nation; the most distant prospect of which is sufficient to warm the soul of any man who has the least regard for his country, with courage sufficient to despise the imputations that may be thrown upon him as a visionary projector, for taking so much pains about an affair that can tend so little to his private advantage. We will now add a few words with respect to the advantages arising from having thus digested the history of circumnavigators, from the earliest account of time to the present, and then shut up the whole with another section, containing the last circumnavigation by Rear-Admiral Anson, whose voyage has at least shown that, under a proper officer, English seamen are able to achieve as much as they ever did; and that is as much as was ever done by any nation in the world.
It is a point that has always admitted some debate, whether science stands more indebted to speculation or practice; or, in other words, whether the greater discoveries have been made by men of deep study, or persons of great experience in the most useful parts of knowledge. But this, I think, is a proposition that admits of no dispute at all, that the noblest discoveries have been the result of a just mixture of theory with practice. It was from hence that the very notion of sailing round the earth took rise; and the ingenious Genoese first laid down this system of the world, according to his conception, and then added the proofs derived from experience. It is much to be deplored that we have not that plan of discovery which the great Christopher Columbus sent over thither by his brother Bartholomew to King Henry VII., for if we had we should certainly find abundance of very curious observations, which might still be useful to mariners: for it appears clearly, from many little circumstances, that he was a person of universal genius, and, until bad usage obliged him to take many precautions, very communicative.
It was from this plan, as it had been communicated to the Portuguese court, that the famous Magellan came to have so just notions of the possibility of sailing by the West to the East Indies; and there was a great deal of theory in the proposal made by that great man to the Emperor Charles V. Sir Francis Drake was a person of the same genius, and of a like general knowledge; and it is very remarkable that these three great seamen met also with the same fate; by which I mean, that they were constantly pursued by envy while they lived, which hindered so much notice being taken of their discourses and discoveries as they deserved. But when the experience of succeeding times had verified many of their sayings, which had been considered as vain and empty boastings in their lifetimes, then prosperity began to pay a superstitious regard to whatever could be collected concerning them, and to admire all they delivered as oraculous. Our other discoverer, Candish, was likewise a man of great parts and great penetration, as well as of great spirit; he had, undoubtedly, a mighty genius for discoveries; but the prevailing notion of those times, that the only way to serve the nation was plundering the Spaniards, seems to have got the better of his desire to find out unknown countries; and made him choose to be known to posterity rather as a gallant privateer than as an able seaman, though in truth he was both.
After these follow Schovten and Le Maire, who were fitted out to make discoveries; and executed their commission with equal capacity and success. If Le Maire had lived to return to Holland, and to have digested into proper order his own accounts, we should, without question, have received a much fuller and clearer, as well as a much more correct and satisfactory detail of them than we have at present: though the voyage, as it is now published, is in all respects the best, and the most curious of all the circumnavigators. This was, very probably, owing to the ill-usage he met with from the Dutch East India Company; which put Captain Schovten, and the relations of Le Maire, upon giving the world the best information they could of what had been in that voyage performed. Yet the fate of Le Maire had a much greater effect in discouraging, than the fame of his discoveries had in exciting, a spirit of emulation; so that we may safely say, the severity of the East India Company in Holland extinguished that generous desire of exploring unknown lands, which might otherwise have raised the reputation and extended the commerce of the republic much beyond what they have hitherto reached. This is so true that for upwards of one hundred years we hear of no Dutch voyage in pursuit of Le Maire's discoveries; and we see, when Commodore Roggewein, in our own time, revived that noble design, it was again cramped by the same power that stifled it before; and though the States did justice to the West India Company, and to the parties injured, yet the hardships they suffered, and the plain proof they gave of the difficulties that must be met with in the prosecution of such a design, seem to have done the business of the East India Company, and damped the spirit of discovery, for perhaps another century, in Holland.
It is very observable that all the mighty discoveries that have been made arose from these great men, who joined reasoning with practice, and were men of genius and learning, as well as seamen. To Columbus we owe the finding America; to Magellan the passing by the straits which bear his name, by a new route to the East Indies; to Le Maire a more commodious passage round Cape Horn, and without running up to California; Sir Francis Drake, too, hinted the advantages that might arise by examining the north-west side of America; and Candish had some notions of discovering a passage between China and Japan. As to the history we have of Roggewein's voyage, it affords such lights as nothing but our own negligence can render useless. But in the other voyages, whatever discoveries we meet with are purely accidental, except it be Dampier's voyage to the coasts of New Holland and New Guinea, which was expressly made for discoveries; and in which, if an abler man had been employed in conjunction with Dampier, we cannot doubt that the interior and exterior of those countries would have been much better known than they are at present; because such a person would rather have chosen to have refreshed in the island of New Britain, or some other country not visited before, than at that of Timer, already settled both by the Portuguese and the Dutch.
In all attempts, therefore, of this sort, those men are fittest to be employed who, with competent abilities as seamen, have likewise general capacities, are at least tolerably acquainted with other sciences, and have settled judgments and solid understandings. These are the men from whom we are to expect the finishing that great work which former circumnavigators have begun; I mean the discovering every part and parcel of the globe, and the carrying to its utmost perfection the admirable and useful science of navigation.
It is, however, a piece of justice due to the memory of these great men, to acknowledge that we are equally encouraged by their examples and guided by their discoveries. We owe to them the being freed, not only from the errors, but from the doubts and difficulties with which former ages were oppressed; to them we stand indebted for the discovery of the best part of the world, which was entirely unknown to the ancients, particularly some part of the eastern, most of the southern, and all the western hemisphere; from them we have learned that the earth is surrounded by the ocean, and that all the countries under the torrid zone are inhabited, and that, quite contrary to the notions that were formerly entertained, they are very far from being the most sultry climate in the world, those within a few degrees of the tropics, though habitable, being much more hot, for reasons which have been elsewhere explained. By their voyages, and especially by the observations of Columbus, we have been taught the general motion of the sea, the reason of it, and the cause and difference of currents in particular places, to which we may add the doctrine of tides, which were very imperfectly known, even by the greatest men in former times, whose accounts have been found equally repugnant to reason and experience.
By their observations we have acquired a great knowledge as to the nature and variation of winds, particularly the monsoons, or trade winds, and other periodical winds, of which the ancients had not the least conception; and by these helps we not only have it in our power to proceed much farther in our discoveries, but we are likewise delivered from a multitude of groundless apprehensions, that frightened them from prosecuting discoveries. We give no credit now to the fables that not only amused antiquity, but even obtained credit within a few generations. The authority of Pliny will not persuade us that there are any nations without heads, whose eyes and mouths are in their breasts, or that the Arimaspi have only one eye, fixed in their forehead, and that they are perpetually at war with the Griffins, who guard hidden treasures; or that there are nations that have long hairy tales, and grin like monkeys. No traveller can make us believe that, under the torrid zone, there are a nation every man of which has one large flat foot, with which, lying upon his back, he covers himself from the sun. In this respect we have the same advantage over the ancients that men have over children; and we cannot reflect without amazement on men's having so much knowledge and learning in other respects, with such childish understandings in these.
By the labours of these great men in the two last centuries we are taught to know what we seek, and how it is to be sought. We know, for example, what parts of the north are yet undiscovered, and also what parts of the south. We can form a very certain judgment of the climate of countries undiscovered, and can foresee the advantages that will result from discoveries before they are made; all which are prodigious advantages, and ought certainly to animate us in our searches. I might add to this the great benefits we receive from our more perfect acquaintance with the properties of the loadstone, and from the surprising accuracy of astronomical observations, to which I may add the physical discoveries made of late years in relation to the figure of the earth, all of which are the result of the lights which these great men have given us.
It is true that some of the zealous defenders of the ancients, and some of the great admirers of the Eastern nations, dispute these facts, and would have us believe that almost everything was known to the old philosophers, and not only known but practised by the Chinese long before the time of the great men to whom we ascribe them. But the difference between their assertions and ours is, that we fully prove the facts we allege, whereas they produce no evidence at all; for instance, Albertus Magnus says that Aristotle wrote an express treatise on the direction of the loadstone; but nobody ever saw that treatise, nor was it ever heard of by any of the rest of his commentators. We have in our hands some of the best performances of antiquity in regard to geography, and any man who has eyes, and is at all acquainted with that science, can very easily discern how far they fall short of maps that were made even a hundred years ago. The celebrated Vossius, and the rest of the admirers of the Chinese, who, by the way, derived all their knowledge from hearsay, may testify, in as strong terms as they think fit, their contempt for the Western sages and their high opinion of those in the East; but till they prove to us that their favourite Chinese made any voyages comparable to the Europeans, before the discovery of a passage to China by the Cape of Good Hope, they will excuse us from believing them. Besides, if the ancients had all this knowledge, how came it not to display itself in their performances? How came they to make such difficulties of what are now esteemed trifles? And how came they never to make any voyages, by choice at least, that were out of sight of land? Again, with respect to the Chinese, if they excel us so much in knowledge, how came the missionaries to be so much admired for their superior skill in the sciences? But to cut the matter short, we are not disputing now about speculative points of science, but as to the practical application of it; in which, I think, there is no doubt that the modern inhabitants of the western parts of the world excel, and excel chiefly from the labours and discoveries of these great and ingenious men, who applied their abilities to the improvement of useful arts, for the particular benefit of their countrymen, and to the common good of mankind; which character is not derived from any prejudice of ours, either against the ancients or the Oriental nations, but is founded on facts of public notoriety, and on general experience, which are a kind of evidence not to be controverted or contradicted.
We are still, however, in several respects short of perfection, and there are many things left to exercise the sagacity, penetration, and application of this and of succeeding ages; for instance, the passages to the north-east and north-west are yet unknown; there is a great part of the southern continent undiscovered; we are, in a manner, ignorant of what lies between America and Japan, and all beyond that country lies buried in obscurity, perhaps in greater obscurity than it was an age ago; so that there is still room for performing great things, which in their consequences perhaps might prove greater than can well be imagined. I say nothing of the discoveries that yet remain with regard to inland countries, because these fall properly under another head, I mean that of travels. But it will be time enough to think of penetrating into the heart of countries when we have discovered the seacoasts of the whole globe, towards which the voyages recorded in this chapter have so far advanced already. But the only means to arrive at these great ends, and to transmit to posterity a fame approaching, at least in some measure, to that of our ancestors, is to revive and restore that glorious spirit which led them to such great exploits; and the most natural method of doing this is to collect and preserve the memory of their exploits, that they may serve at once to excite our imitation, encourage our endeavours, and point out to us how they may be best employed, and with the greatest probability of success.
AN ACCOUNT OF NEW HOLLAND AND THE ADJACENT ISLANDS. 1699-1700.
BY CAPTAIN WILLIAM DAMPIER.
Having described his voyage from Brazil to New Holland, this celebrated navigator thus proceeds:
About the latitude of 26 degrees south we saw an opening, and ran in, hoping to find a harbour there; but when we came to its mouth, which was about two leagues wide, we saw rocks and foul ground within, and therefore stood out again; there we had twenty fathom water within two miles of the shore: the land everywhere appeared pretty low, flat, and even, but with steep cliffs to the sea, and when we came near it there were no trees, shrubs, or grass to be seen. The soundings in the latitude of 26 degrees south, from about eight or nine leagues off till you come within a league of the shore, are generally about forty fathoms, differing but little, seldom above three or four fathoms; but the lead brings up very different sorts of sand, some coarse, some fine, and of several colours, as yellow, white, grey, brown, bluish, and reddish.
When I saw there was no harbour here, nor good anchoring, I stood off to sea again in the evening of the 2nd of August, fearing a storm on a lee- shore, in a place where there was no shelter, and desiring at least to have sea-room, for the clouds began to grow thick in the western-board, and the wind was already there and began to blow fresh almost upon the shore, which at this place lies along north-north-west and south-south- east. By nine o'clock at night we got a pretty good offing, but the wind still increasing, I took in my main-top-sail, being able to carry no more sail than two courses and the mizen. At two in the morning, August 3rd, it blew very hard, and the sea was much raised, so that I furled all my sails but my mainsail, though the wind blew so hard, we had pretty clear weather till noon, but then the whole sky was blackened with thick clouds, and we had some rain, which would last a quarter of an hour at a time, and then it would blow very fierce while the squalls of rain were over our heads, but as soon as they were gone the wind was by much abated, the stress of the storm being over; we sounded several times, but had no ground till eight o'clock, August the 4th, in the evening, and then had sixty fathom water, coral ground. At ten we had fifty-six fathom, fine sand. At twelve we had fifty-five fathom, fine sand, of a pale bluish colour. It was now pretty moderate weather, yet I made no sail till morning, but then the wind veering about to the south-west, I made sail and stood to the north, and at eleven o'clock the next day, August 5th, we saw land again, at about ten leagues distant. This noon we were in latitude 25 degrees 30 minutes, and in the afternoon our cook died, an old man, who had been sick a great while, being infirm before we came out of England.
The 6th of August, in the morning, we saw an opening in the land, and we ran into it, and anchored in seven and a half fathom water, two miles from the shore, clean sand. It was somewhat difficult getting in here, by reason of many shoals we met with; but I sent my boat sounding before me. The mouth of this sound, which I called Shark's Bay, lies in about 25 degrees south latitude, and our reckoning made its longitude from the Cape of Good Hope to be about 87 degrees, which is less by one hundred and ninety-five leagues than is usually laid down in our common draughts, if our reckoning was right and our glasses did not deceive us. As soon as I came to anchor in this bay, I sent my boat ashore to seek for fresh water, but in the evening my men returned, having found none. The next morning I went ashore myself, carrying pickaxes and shovels with me, to dig for water, and axes to cut wood. We tried in several places for water, but finding none after several trials, nor in several miles compass, we left any further search for it, and spending the rest of the day in cutting wood, we went aboard at night.
The land is of an indifferent height, so that it may be seen nine or ten leagues off. It appears at a distance very even; but as you come nigher you find there are many gentle risings, though none steep or high. It is all a steep shore against the open sea; but in this bay or sound we were now in, the land is low by the seaside, rising gradually in with the land. The mould is sand by the seaside, producing a large sort of samphire, which bears a white flower. Farther in the mould is reddish, a sort of sand, producing some grass, plants, and shrubs. The grass grows in great tufts as big as a bushel, here and there a tuft, being intermixed with much heath, much of the kind we have growing on our commons in England. Of trees or shrubs here are divers sorts, but none above ten feet high, their bodies about three feet about, and five or six feet high before you come to the branches, which are bushy, and composed of small twigs there spreading abroad, though thick set and full of leaves, which were mostly long and narrow. The colour of the leaves was on one side whitish, and on the other green, and the bark of the trees was generally of the same colour with the leaves, of a pale green. Some of these trees were sweet-scented, and reddish within the bark, like sassafras, but redder. Most of the trees and shrubs had at this time either blossoms or berries on them. The blossoms of the different sorts of trees were of several colours, as red, white, yellow, etc., but mostly blue, and these generally smelt very sweet and fragrant, as did some also of the rest. There were also besides some plants, herbs, and tall flowers, some very small flowers growing on the ground, that were sweet and beautiful, and, for the most part, unlike any I had seen elsewhere.
There were but few land fowls. We saw none but eagles of the larger sorts of birds, but five or six sorts of small birds. The biggest sort of these were not bigger than larks, some no bigger than wrens, all singing with great variety of fine shrill notes; and we saw some of their nests with young ones in them. The water-fowls are ducks (which had young ones now, this being the beginning of the spring in these parts), curlews, galdens, crab-catchers, cormorants, gulls, pelicans, and some water-fowl, such as I have not seen anywhere besides.
The land animals that we saw here were only a sort of raccoons, different from those of the West Indies, chiefly as to their legs, for these have very short forelegs, but go jumping upon them as the others do (and like them are very good meat), and a sort of guanos, of the same shape and size with other guanos described, but differing from them in three remarkable particulars; for these had a larger and uglier head, and had no tail, and at the rump, instead of the tail there, they had a stump of a tail, which appeared like another head, but not really such, being without mouth or eyes; yet this creature seemed by this means to have a head at each end, and, which may be reckoned a fourth difference, the legs also seemed all four of them to be forelegs, being all alike in shape and length, and seeming by the joints and bending to be made as if they were to go indifferently either head or tail foremost. They were speckled black and yellow like toads, and had scales or knobs on their backs like those of crocodiles, plated on to the skin, or stuck into it, as part of the skin. They are very slow in motion, and when a man comes nigh them they will stand still and hiss, not endeavouring to get away. Their livers are also spotted black and yellow; and the body, when opened, hath a very unsavoury smell. I did never see such ugly creatures anywhere but here. The guanos I have observed to be very good meat, and I have often eaten of them with pleasure; but though I have eaten of snakes, crocodiles, and alligators, and many creatures that look frightfully enough, and there are but few I should have been afraid to eat of if pressed by hunger, yet I think my stomach would scarce have served to venture upon these New Holland guanos, both the looks and the smell of them being so offensive.
The sea-fish that we saw here (for here was no river, land or pond of fresh water to be seen) are chiefly sharks. There are abundance of them in this particular sound, that I therefore gave it the name of Shark's Bay. Here are also skates, thornbacks, and other fish of the ray kind (one sort especially like the sea-devil), and gar-fish, bonetas, etc. Of shell-fish we got here mussels, periwinkles, limpets, oysters, both of the pearl kind and also eating oysters, as well the common sort as long oysters, besides cockles, etc. The shore was lined thick with many other sorts of very strange and beautiful shells for variety of colour and shape, most finely spotted with red, black, or yellow, etc., such as I have not seen anywhere but at this place. I brought away a great many of them, but lost all except a very few, and those not of the best.
There are also some green turtle weighing about two hundred pounds. Of these we caught two, which the water ebbing had left behind a ledge of rock which they could not creep over. These served all my company two days, and they were indifferent sweet meat. Of the sharks we caught a great many, which our men ate very savourily. Among them we caught one which was eleven feet long. The space between its two eyes was twenty inches, and eighteen inches from one corner of his mouth to the other. Its maw was like a leather sack, very thick, and so tough that a sharp knife could scarce cut it, in which we found the head and bones of a hippopotamus, the hairy lips of which were still sound and not putrified, and the jaw was also firm, out of which we plucked a great many teeth, two of them eight inches long and as big as a man's thumb, small at one end, and a little crooked, the rest not above half so long. The maw was full of jelly, which stank extremely. However, I saved for awhile the teeth and the shark's jaw. The flesh of it was divided among my men, and they took care that no waste should be made of it.
It was the 7th of August when we came into Shark's Bay, in which we anchored at three several places, and stayed at the first of them (on the west side of the bay) till the 11th, during which time we searched about, as I said, for fresh water, digging wells, but to no purpose. However, we cut good store of firewood at this first anchoring-place, and my company were all here very well refreshed with raccoons, turtle, shark, and other fish, and some fowls, so that we were now all much brisker than when we came in hither. Yet still I was for standing farther into the bay, partly because I had a mind to increase my stock of fresh water, which was begun to be low, and partly for the sake of discovering this part of the coast. I was invited to go further by seeing from this anchoring-place all open before me, which therefore I designed to search before I left the bay. So on the 11th about noon I steered further in, with an easy sail, because we had but shallow water. We kept, therefore, good looking out for fear of shoals, sometimes shortening, sometimes deepening the water. About two in the afternoon we saw the land ahead that makes the south of the bay, and before night we had again sholdings from that shore, and therefore shortened sail and stood off and on all night, under two top-sails, continually sounding, having never more than ten fathom, and seldom less than seven. The water deepened and sholdened so very gently, that in heaving the lead five or six times we should scarce have a foot difference. When we came into seven fathom either way, we presently went about. From this south part of the bay we could not see the land from whence we came in the afternoon; and this land we found to be an island of three or four leagues long; but it appearing barren, I did not strive to go nearer it, and the rather because the winds would not permit us to do it without much trouble, and at the openings the water was generally shoal: I therefore made no farther attempts in this south-west and south part of the bay, but steered away to the eastward, to see if there was any land that way, for as yet we had seen none there. On the 12th, in the morning, we passed by the north point of that land, and were confirmed in the persuasion of its being an island by seeing an opening to the east of it, as we had done on the west. Having fair weather, a small gale, and smooth water, we stood further on in the bay to see what land was on the east of it. Our soundings at first were seven fathom, which held so a great while, but at length it decreased to six. Then we saw the land right ahead. We could not come near it with the ship, having but shoal water, and it being dangerous lying there, and the land extraordinarily low, very unlikely to have fresh water (though it had a few trees on it, seemingly mangroves), and much of it probably covered at high water, I stood out again that afternoon, deepening the water, and before night anchored in eight fathom, clean white sand, about the middle of the bay. The next day we got up our anchor, and that afternoon came to an anchor once more near two islands and a shoal of coral rocks that face the bay. Here I scrubbed my ship; and finding it very improbable I should get any further here, I made the best of my way out to sea again, sounding all the way; but finding, by the shallowness of the water, that there was no going out to sea to the east of the two islands that face the bay, nor between them, I returned to the west entrance, going out by the same way I came in at, only on the east instead of the west side of the small shoal: in which channel we had ten, twelve, and thirteen fathom water, still deepening upon us till we were out at sea. The day before we came out I sent a boat ashore to the most northerly of the two islands, which is the least of them, catching many small fish in the meanwhile, with hook and line. The boat's crew returning told me that the isle produces nothing but a sort of green, short, hard, prickly grass, affording neither wood nor fresh water, and that a sea broke between the two islands—a sign that the water was shallow. They saw a large turtle, and many skates and thornbacks, but caught none.
It was August the 14th when I sailed out of this bay or sound, the mouth of which lies, as I said, in 25 degrees 5 minutes, designing to coast along to the north-east till I might commodiously put in at some other port of New Holland. In passing out we saw three water-serpents swimming about in the sea, of a yellow colour spotted with dark brown spots. They were each about four foot long, and about the bigness of a man's wrist, and were the first I saw on this coast, which abounds with several sorts of them. We had the winds at our first coming out at north, and the land lying north-easterly. We plied off and on, getting forward but little till the next day, when the wind coming at south-south-west and south, we began to coast it along the shore on the northward, keeping at six or seven leagues off shore, and sounding often, we had between forty and forty-six fathom water, brown sand with some white shells. This 15th of August we were in latitude 24 degrees 41 minutes. On the 16th day, at noon, we were in 23 degrees 22 minutes. The wind coming at east by north, we could not keep the shore aboard, but were forced to go farther off, and lost sight of the land; then sounding, we had no ground with eighty-fathom line. However, the wind shortly after came about again to the southward, and then we jogged on again to the northward, and saw many small dolphins and whales, and abundance of cuttle-shells swimming on the sea, and some water-snakes every day. The 17th we saw the land again and took a sight of it.
The 18th, in the afternoon, being three or four leagues off shore, I saw a shoal-point stretching from the land into the sea a league or more; the sea broke high on it, by which I saw plainly there was a shoal there. I stood farther off and coasted along shore to about seven or eight leagues distance, and at twelve o'clock at night we sounded, and had but twenty fathom, hard sand. By this I found I was upon another shoal, and so presently steered off west half an hour, and had then forty fathom. At one in the morning of the 18th day we had eighty-five fathom; by two we could find no ground, and then I ventured to steer along shore again due north, which is two points wide of the coast (that lies north-north-east), for fear of another shoal. I would not be too far off from the land, being desirous to search into it wherever I should find an opening or any convenience of searching about for water, etc. When we were off the shoal-point I mentioned, where we had but twenty fathom water, we had in the night abundance of whales about the ship, some ahead, others astern, and some on each side, blowing and making a very dismal noise; but when we came out again into deeper water, they left us; indeed, the noise that they made by blowing and dashing of the sea with their tails, making it all of a breach and foam, was very dreadful to us, like the breach of the waves in very shoal water or among rocks. The shoal these whales were upon had depth of water sufficient, no less than twenty fathom, as I said, and it lies in latitude 22 degrees 22 minutes. The shore was generally bold all along. We had met with no shoal at sea since the Abrohlo shoal, when we first fell on the New Holland coast in the latitude of 28 degrees, till yesterday in the afternoon and this night. This morning also, when we expected by the draught we had with us to have been eleven leagues off shore, we were but four, so that either our draughts were faulty, which yet hitherto and afterwards we found true enough as to the lying of the coast, or else here was a tide unknown to us that deceived us, though we had found very little of any tide on this coast hitherto; as to our winds in the coasting thus far, as we had been within the verge of the general trade (though interrupted by the storm I mentioned), from the latitude of 28 degrees, when we first fell in with the coast, and by that time we were in the latitude of 25 degrees, we had usually the regular trade wind (which is here south-south-east) when we were at any distance from shore; but we had often sea and land breezes, especially when near shore and when in Shark's Bay, and had a particular north-west wind or storm that set us in thither. On this 18th of August we coasted with a brisk gale of the true trade wind at south-south-east, very fair and clear weather; but hauling off in the evening to sea, were next morning out of sight of land, and the land now trending away north- easterly, and we being to the northward of it, and the wind also shrinking from the south-south-east to the east-south-east (that is, from the true trade wind to the sea breeze, as the land now lay), we could not get in with the land again yet awhile so as to see it, though we trimmed sharp and kept close on a wind. We were this 19th day in latitude 21 degrees 42 minutes. The 20th we were in latitude 19 degrees 37 minutes, and kept close on a wind to get sight of the land again, but could not yet see it. We had very fair weather, and though we were so far from the land as to be out of sight of it, yet we had the sea and land breezes. In the night we had the land breeze at south-south-east, a small gentle gale, which in the morning about sun-rising would shift about gradually (and withal increasing in strength) till about noon we should have it at east-south-east, which is the true sea breeze here. Then it would blow a brisk gale so that we could scarce carry our top-sails double-reefed; and it would continue thus till three in the afternoon, when it would decrease again. The weather was fair all the while, not a cloud to be seen, but very hazy, especially nigh the horizon. We sounded several times this 20th day, and at first had no ground, but had afterwards from fifty-two to forty-five fathom, coarse brown sand, mixed with small brown and white stones, with dints besides in the tallow.
The 21st day also we had small land breezes in the night, and sea breezes in the day, and as we saw some sea-snakes every day, so this day we saw a great many, of two different sorts or shapes. One sort was yellow, and about the bigness of a man's wrist, about four feet long, having a flat tail about four fingers broad. The other sort was much smaller and shorter, round, and spotted black and yellow. This day we sounded several times, and had forty-five fathom, sand. We did not make the land till noon, and then saw it first from our topmast head; it bore south- east by east about nine leagues distance, and it appeared like a cape or head of land. The sea breeze this day was not so strong as the day before, and it veered out more, so that we had a fair wind to run in with to the shore, and at sunset anchored in twenty fathom, clean sand, about five leagues from the Bluff point, which was not a cape (as it appeared at a great distance), but the easternmost end of an island about five or six leagues in length, and one in breadth. There were three or four rocky islands about a league from us, between us and the Bluff point, and we saw many other islands both to the east and west of it, as far as we could see either way from our topmast-head, and all within them to the south there was nothing but islands of a pretty height, that may be seen eight or nine leagues off; by what we saw of them they must have been a range of islands of about twenty leagues in length, stretching from east- north-east to west-south-west, and, for aught I know, as far as to those of Shark's Bay, and to a considerable breadth also, for we could see nine or ten leagues in among them, towards the continent or mainland of New Holland, if there be any such thing hereabouts; and by the great tides I met with awhile afterwards, more to the north-east, I had a strong suspicion that here might be a kind of archipelago of islands, and a passage possibly to the south of New Holland and New Guinea into the great South Sea eastward, which I had thoughts also of attempting in my return from New Guinea, had circumstances permitted, and told my officers so; but I would not attempt it at this time, because we wanted water, and could not depend upon finding it there. This place is in the latitude of 20 degrees 21 minutes, but in the draught that I had of this coast, which was Tasman's, it was laid down in 19 degrees 50 minutes, and the shore is laid down as all along joining in one body or continent, with some openings appearing like rivers, and not like islands as really they are. This place lies more northerly by 40 minutes than is laid down in Mr. Tasman's draught, and besides its being made a firm continued land, only with some openings like the mouths of rivers, I found the soundings also different from what the pricked line of his course shows them, and generally shallower than he makes them, which inclines me to think that he came not so near the shore as his line shows, and so had deeper soundings, and could not so well distinguish the islands. His meridian or difference of longitude from Shark's Bay agrees well enough with my account, which is two hundred and thirty-two leagues, though we differ in latitude; and to confirm my conjecture that the line of his course is made too near the shore, at least not far to the east of this place, the water is there so shallow that he could not come there so nigh.
But to proceed. In the night we had a small land breeze, and in the morning I weighed anchor, designing to run in among the islands, for they had large channels between them of a league wide at least, and some two or three leagues wide. I sent in my boat before to sound, and if they found shoal water to return again, but if they found water enough to go ashore on one of the islands and stay till the ship came in, where they might in the meantime search for water. So we followed after with the ship, sounding as we went in, and had twenty fathom till within two leagues of the Bluff head, and then we had shoal water and very uncertain soundings; yet we ran in still with an easy sail, sounding and looking out well, for this was dangerous work. When we came abreast of the Bluff head, and about two miles from it, we had but seven fathom, then we edged away from it, but had no more water, and running in a little farther we had but four fathoms, so we anchored immediately; and yet when we had veered out a third of a cable, we had seven fathom water again, so uncertain was the water. My boat came immediately on board, and told me that the island was very rocky and dry, and they had little hopes of finding water there. I sent them to sound, and bade them, if they found a channel of eight or ten fathom water, to keep on, and we would follow with the ship. We were now about four leagues within the outer small rocky islands, but still could see nothing but islands within us, some five or six leagues long, others not above a mile round. The large islands were pretty high, but all appeared dry, and mostly rocky and barren. The rocks looked of a rusty yellow colour, and therefore I despaired of getting water on any of them, but was in some hopes of finding a channel to run in beyond all these islands, could I have spent time here, and either got to the main of New Holland or find out some other islands that might afford us water and other refreshments; besides that among so many islands we might have found some sort of rich mineral, or ambergris, it being a good latitude for both these. But we had not sailed above a league farther before our water grew shoaler again, and then we anchored in six fathom, hard sand.
We were now on the inner side of the island, on whose outside is the Bluff point. We rode a league from the island, and I presently went ashore and carried shovels to dig for water, but found none. There grow here two or three sorts of shrubs, one just like rosemary, and therefore I called this Rosemary Island; it grew in great plenty here, but had no smell. Some of the other shrubs had blue and yellow flowers; and we found two sorts of grain like beans; the one grew on bushes, the other on a sort of creeping vine that runs along on the ground, having very thick broad leaves, and the blossom like a bean blossom, but much larger and of a deep red colour, looking very beautiful. We saw here some cormorants, gulls, crab-catchers, etc., a few small land birds, and a sort of white parrots, which flew a great many together. We found some shell-fish, viz., limpets, periwinkles, and abundance of small oysters growing on the rocks, which were very sweet. In the sea we saw some green turtle, many sharks, and abundance of water-snakes of several sorts and sizes. The stones were all of rusty colour, and ponderous.
We saw a smoke on an island three or four leagues off, and here also the bushes had been burned, but we found no other sign of inhabitants. It was probable that on the island where the smoke was there were inhabitants, and fresh water for them. In the evening I went aboard, and consulted with my officers whether it was best to send thither, or to search among any other of these islands with my boat, or else go from hence and coast along shore with the ship, till we could find some better place than this was to ride in, where we had shoal water and lay exposed to winds and tides. They all agreed to go from hence, so I gave orders to weigh in the morning as soon as it should be light, and to get out with the land breeze.
Accordingly, August 23rd, at five in the morning, we ran out, having a pretty fresh land breeze at south-south-east. By eight o'clock we were got out, and very seasonably, for before nine the sea breeze came on us very strong, and increasing, we took in our top-sails and stood off under two courses and a mizen, this being as much sail as we could carry. The sky was clear, there being not one cloud to be seen, but the horizon appeared very hazy, and the sun at setting the night before, and this morning at rising, appeared very red. The wind continued very strong till twelve, then it began to abate; I have seldom met with a stronger breeze. These strong sea breezes lasted thus in their turns three or four days. They sprang up with the sunrise; by nine o'clock they were very strong, and so continued till noon, when they began to abate; and by sunset there was little wind, or a calm, till the land breezes came, which we should certainly have in the morning about one or two o'clock. The land breezes were between the south-south-west and south-south-east: the sea breezes between the east-north-east and north-north-east. In the night while calm, we fished with hook and line, and caught good store of fish viz., snappers, breams, old-wives, and dog-fish. When these last came we seldom caught any others; for it they did not drive away the other fish, yet they would be sure to keep them from taking our hooks, for they would first have them themselves, biting very greedily. We caught also a monk-fish, of which I brought home the picture.
On the 25th of August we still coasted along shore, that we might the better see any opening; kept sounding, and had about twenty fathom, clean sand. The 26th day, being about four leagues off shore, the water began gradually to sholden from twenty to fourteen fathom. I was edging in a little towards the land, thinking to have anchored; but presently after the water decreased almost at once, till we had but five fathom. I durst, therefore, adventure no farther, but steered out the same way that we came in, and in a short time had ten fathom (being then about four leagues and a half from the shore), and even soundings. I steered away east-north-east, coasting along as the land lies. This day the sea breezes began to be very moderate again, and we made the best of our way along shore, only in the night edging off a little for fear of shoals. Ever since we left Shark's Bay we had fair clear weather, and so for a great while still.
The 27th day we had twenty fathom water all night, yet we could not see land till one in the afternoon from our topmast-head. By three we could just discern land from our quarter-deck; we had then sixteen fathom. The wind was at north, and we steered east-by-north, which is but one point in on the land; yet we decreased our water very fast, for at four we had but nine fathom, the next cast but seven, which frightened us; and we then tacked instantly and steed off, but in a short time the wind coming at north-west and west-north-west, we tacked again and steered north-north-east, and then deepened our water again, and had all night from fifteen to twenty fathom.
The 28th day we had between twenty and forty fathom. We saw no land this day, but saw a great many snakes and some whales. We saw also some boobies and noddy-birds, and in the night caught one of these last. It was of another shape and colour than any I had seen before. It had a small long bill, as all of them have, flat feet like ducks' feet, its tail forked like a swallow, but longer and broader, and the fork deeper than that of the swallow, with very long wings; the top or crown of the head of this noddy was coal-black, having also small black streaks round about and close to the eyes; and round these streaks on each side, a pretty broad white circle. The breast, belly, and under part of the wings of this noddy were white, and the back and upper part of its wings of a faint black or smoke colour. Noddies are seen in most places between the tropics, as well in the East Indies and on the coast of Brazil, as in the West Indies. They rest ashore at night, and therefore we never see them far at sea, not above twenty or thirty leagues, unless driven off in a storm. When they come about a ship they commonly perch in the night, and will sit still till they are taken by the seamen. They build on cliffs against the sea, or rocks.
The 30th day, being in latitude 18 degrees 21 minutes, we made the land again, and saw many great smokes near the shore; and having fair weather and moderate breezes, I steered in towards it. At four in the afternoon I anchored in eight fathom water, clear sand, about three leagues and a half from the shore. I presently sent my boat to sound nearer in, and they found ten fathom about a mile farther in, and from thence still farther in the water decreased gradually to nine, eight, seven, and at two miles distance to six fathom. This evening we saw an eclipse of the moon, but it was abating before the moon appeared to us; for the horizon was very hazy, so that we could not see the moon till she had been half an hour above the horizon; and at two hours twenty-two minutes after sunset, by the reckoning of our glasses, the eclipse was quite gone, which was not of many digits. The moon's centre was then 33 degrees 40 minutes high.
The 31st of August, betimes in the morning, I went ashore with ten or eleven men to search for water. We went armed with muskets and cutlasses for our defence, expecting to see people there, and carried also shovels and pickaxes to dig wells. When we came near the shore we saw three tall, black, naked men on the sandy bay ahead of us; but as we rowed in, they went away. When we were landed, I sent the boat with two men in her to lie a little from the shore at an anchor, to prevent being seized; while the rest of us went after the three black men, who were now got on the top of a small hill about a quarter of a mile from us, with eight or nine men more in their company. They, seeing us coming, ran away. When we came on the top of the hill where they first stood, we saw a plain savannah, about half a mile from us, farther in from the sea. There were several things like hay-cocks standing in the savannah, which at a distance we thought were houses, looking just like the Hottentots' houses at the Cape of Good Hope: but we found them to be so many rocks. We searched about these for water, but could find none, nor any houses, nor people, for they were all gone. Then we turned again to the place where we landed, and there we dug for water.
While we were at work there came nine or ten of the natives to a small hill a little way from us, and stood there menacing and threatening us, and making a great noise. At last one of them came towards us, and the rest followed at a distance. I went out to meet him, and came within fifty yards of him, making to him all the signs of peace and friendship I could, but then he ran away, neither would they any of them stay for us to come nigh them, for we tried two or three times. At last I took two men with me, and went in the afternoon along by the sea-side, purposely to catch one of them, if I could, of whom I might learn where they got their fresh water. There were ten or twelve of the natives a little way off, who, seeing us three going away from the rest of our men, followed us at a distance. I thought they would follow us, but there being for awhile a sand-bank between us and them, that they could not then see us, we made a halt, and hid ourselves in a bending of the sand-bank. They knew we must be thereabouts, and being three or four times our numbers, thought to seize us. So they dispersed themselves, some going to the sea- shore, and others beating about the sand-hills. We knew by what rencounter we had had with them in the morning that we could easily out- run them, so a nimble young man that was with me, seeing some of them near, ran towards them; and they for some time ran away before him, but he soon overtaking them, they faced about and fought him. He had a cutlass and they had wooden lances, with which, being many of them, they were too hard for him. When he first ran towards them I chased two more that were by the shore; but fearing how it might be with my young man, I turned back quickly and went to the top of a sand-hill, whence I saw him near me, closely engaged with them. Upon their seeing me, one of them threw a lance at me, that narrowly missed me. I discharged my gun to scare them, but avoided shooting any of them, till finding the young man in great danger from them, and myself in some; and that though the gun had a little frightened them at first, yet they had soon learnt to despise it, tossing up their hands and crying, "pooh, pooh, pooh," and coming on afresh with a great noise, I thought it high time to charge again, and shoot one of them, which I did. The rest, seeing him fall, made a stand again, and my young man took the opportunity to disengage himself and come off to me; my other man also was with me, who had done nothing all this while, having come out unarmed, and I returned back with my men, designing to attempt the natives no farther, being very sorry for what had happened already. They took up their wounded companion; and my young man, who had been struck through the cheek by one of their lances, was afraid it had been poisoned, but I did not think that likely. His wound was very painful to him, being made with a blunt weapon; but he soon recovered of it.
Among the New Hollanders, whom we were thus engaged with, there was one who by his appearance and carriage, as well in the morning as this afternoon, seemed to be the chief of them, and a kind of prince or captain among them. He was a young brisk man, not very tall, nor so personable as some of the rest, though more active and courageous: he was painted (which none of the rest were at all) with a circle of white paste or pigment (a sort of lime, as we thought) about his eyes, and a white streak down his nose, from his forehead to the tip of it: and his breast and some part of his arms were also made white with the same paint; not for beauty or ornament, one would think, but as some wild Indian warriors are said to do, he seemed thereby to design the looking more terrible; this his painting adding very much to his natural deformity; for they all of them have the most unpleasant looks and the worst features of any people that ever I saw, though I have seen great variety of savages. These New Hollanders were probably the same sort of people as those I met with on this coast in my voyage round the world, for the place I then touched at was not above forty or fifty leagues to the north-east of this, and these were much the same blinking creatures (here being also abundance of the same kind of flesh-flies teazing them,) and with the same black skins, and hair frizzled, tall and thin, &c. as those were: but we had not the opportunity to see whether these, as the former, wanted two of their fore-teeth.
We saw a great many places where they had made fires, and where there were commonly three or four boughs stuck up to windward of them; for the wind, (which is the sea-breeze), in the day-time blows always one way with them, and the land-breeze is but small. By their fire-places we should always find great heaps of fish-shells of several sorts; and it is probable that these poor creatures here lived chiefly on the shell-fish, as those I before described did on small fish, which they caught in wires or holes in the sand at low water. These gathered their shell-fish on the rocks at low water but had no wires (that we saw), whereby to get any other sorts of fish; as among the former I saw not any heaps of shells as here, though I know they also gathered some shell-fish. The lances also of those were such as these had; however, they being upon an island, with their women and children, and all in our power, they did not there use them against us, as here on the continent, where we saw none but some of the men under head, who come out purposely to observe us. We saw no houses at either place, and I believe they have none, since the former people on the island had none, though they had all their families with them.
Upon returning to my men I saw that though they had dug eight or nine feet deep, yet found no water. So I returned aboard that evening, and the next day, being September 1st, I sent my boatswain ashore to dig deeper, and sent the seine within him to catch fish. While I stayed aboard I observed the flowing of the tide, which runs very swift here, so that our nun-buoy would not bear above the water to be seen. It flows here (as on that part of New Holland I described formerly) about five fathom; and here the flood runs south-east by south till the last quarter; then it sets right in towards the shore (which lies here south- south-west and north north-east) and the ebb runs north-west by north. When the tides slackened we fished with hook and line, as we had already done in several places on this coast; on which in this voyage hitherto we had found but little tides; but by the height, and strength, and course of them hereabouts, it should seem that if there be such a passage or strait going through eastward to the great South Sea, as I said one might suspect, one would expect to find the mouth of it somewhere between this place and Rosemary Island, which was the part of New Holland I came last from.
Next morning my men came aboard and brought a runlet of brackish water which they had got out of another well that they dug in a place a mile off, and about half as far from the shore; but this water was not fit to drink. However, we all concluded that it would serve to boil our oatmeal, for burgoo, whereby we might save the remains of our other water for drinking, till we should get more: and accordingly the next day we brought aboard four hogsheads of it: but while we were at work about the well we were sadly pestered with the flies, which were more troublesome to us than the sun, though it shone clear and strong upon us all the while very hot. All this while we saw no more of the natives, but saw some of the smoke of some of their fires at two or three miles distance.
The land hereabouts was much like the port of New Holland that I formerly described; it is low, but seemingly barricaded with a long chain of sand- hills to the sea, that lets nothing be seen of what is farther within land. At high water the tides rising so high as they do, the coast shows very low: but when it is low water it seems to be of an indifferent height. At low water-mark the shore is all rocky, so that then there is no landing with a boat; but at high water a boat may come in over those rocks to the sandy bay, which runs all along on this coast. The land by the sea for about five or six hundred yards is a dry sandy soil, bearing only shrubs and bushes of divers sorts. Some of these had them at this time of the year, yellow flowers or blossoms, some blue, and some white; most of them of a very fragrant smell. Some had fruit like peascods, in each of which there were just ten small peas; I opened many of them, and found no more nor less. There are also here some of that sort of bean which I saw at Rosemary Island: and another sort of small red hard pulse, growing in cods also, with little black eyes like beans. I know not their names, but have seen them used often in the East Indies for weighing gold; and they make the same use of them at Guinea, as I have heard, where the women also make bracelets with them to wear about their arms. These grow on bushes; but here are also a fruit like beans growing on a creeping sort of shrub-like vine. There was great plenty of all these sorts of cod-fruit growing on the sand-hills by the sea side, some of them green, some ripe, and some fallen on the ground: but I could not perceive that any of them had been gathered by the natives; and might not probably be wholesome food.
The land farther in, that is, lower than what borders on the sea, was so much as we saw of it, very plain and even; partly savannahs and partly woodland. The savannahs bear a sort of thin coarse grass. The mould is also a coarser sand than that by the sea-side, and in some places it is clay. Here are a great many rocks in the large savannah we were in, which are five or six feet high, and round at top like a hay-cock, very remarkable; some red and some white. The woodland lies farther in still, where there were divers sorts of small trees, scarce any three feet in circumference, their bodies twelve or fourteen feet high, with a head of small knibs or boughs. By the sides of the creeks, especially nigh the sea, there grow a few small black mangrove-trees.
There are but few land animals. I saw some lizards; and my men saw two or three beasts like hungry wolves, lean like so many skeletons, being nothing but skin and bones; it is probable that it was the foot of one of those beasts that I mentioned as seen by us in New Holland. We saw a raccoon or two, and one small speckled snake.
The land fowls that we saw here were crows, just such as ours in England, small hawks and kites, a few of each sort: but here are plenty of small turtle doves, that are plump, fat, and very good meat. Here are two or three sorts of smaller birds, some as big as larks, some less; but not many of either sort. The sea-fowl are pelicans, boobies, noddies, curlews, seapies, &c., and but few of these neither.
The sea is plentifully stocked with the largest whales that I ever saw; but not to compare with the vast ones of the Northern Seas. We saw also a great many green turtle, but caught none, here being no place to set a turtle net in; there being no channel for them, and the tides running so strong. We saw some sharks and parracoots; and with hooks and lines we caught some rock-fish and old-wives. Of shell-fish, here were oysters both of the common kind for eating, and of the pearl kind; and also whelks, conchs, muscles, limpits, periwinkles, &c., and I gathered a few strange shells, chiefly a sort not large, and thickset all about with rays or spikes growing in rows.