The great discoveries that were made by the Dutch in these southern countries were subsequent to the famous voyage of Jaques le Maire, who in 1616 passed the straits called by his name; in 1618, that part of Terra Australia was discovered which the Dutch called Concordia. The next year, the Land of Edels was found, and received its name from its discoverer. In 1620, Batavia was built on the ruins of the old city of Jacatra; but the seat of government was not immediately removed from Amboyna. In 1622, that part of New Holland which is called Lewin’s Land was first found; and in 1627, Peter Nuyts discovered between New Holland and New Guinea a country which bears his name. There were also some other voyages made, of which, however, we have no sort of account, except that the Dutch were continually beaten in all their attempts to land upon this coast. On their settlement, however, at Batavia, the then general and council of the Indies thought it requisite to have a more perfect survey made of the new-found countries, that the memory of them at least might be preserved, in case no further attempts were made to settle them; and it was very probably a foresight of few ships going that route any more, which induced such as had then the direction of the Company’s affairs to wish that some such survey and description might be made by an able seaman, who was well acquainted with those coasts, and who might be able to add to the discoveries already made, as well as furnish a more accurate description, even of them, than had been hitherto given.
This was faithfully performed by Captain Tasman; and from the lights afforded by his journal, a very exact and curious map was made of all these new countries. But his voyage was never published entire; and it is very probable that the East India Company never intended it should be published at all. However, Dirk Rembrantz, moved by the excellency and accuracy of the work, published in Low Dutch an extract of Captain Tasman’s Journal, which has been ever since considered as a very great curiosity; and, as such, has been translated into many languages, particularly into our own, by the care of the learned Professor of Gresham College, Doctor Hook, an abridgment of which translation found a place in Doctor Harris’s Collection of Voyages. But we have made no use of either of these pieces, the following being a new translation, made with all the care and diligence that is possible.
On August 14, 1642, I sailed from Batavia with two vessels; the one called the Heemskirk, and the other the Zee–Haan. On September 5 I anchored at Maurice Island, in the latitude of 20 degrees south, and in the longitude of 83 degrees 48 minutes. I found this island fifty German miles more to the east than I expected; that is to say, 3 degrees 33 minutes of longitude. This island was so called from Prince Maurice, being before known by the name of Cerne. It is about fifteen leagues in circumference, and has a very fine harbour, at the entrance of which there is one hundred fathoms water. The country is mountainous; but the mountains are covered with green trees. The tops of these mountains are so high that they are lost in the clouds, and are frequently covered by thick exhalations or smoke that ascends from them. The air of this island is extremely wholesome. It is well furnished with flesh and fowl; and the sea on its coasts abounds with all sorts of fish. The finest ebony in the world grows here. It is a tall, straight tree of a moderate thickness, covered with a green bark, very thick, under which the wood is as black as pitch, and as close as ivory. There are other trees on the island, which are of a bright red, and a third sort as yellow as wax. The ships belonging to the East India Company commonly touch at this island for refreshments on their passage to Batavia.
I left this island on the 8th of October, and continued my course to the south to the latitude of 40 degrees or 41 degrees, having a strong north~west wind; and finding the needle vary 23, 24, and 25 degrees to the 22nd of October, I sailed from that time to the 29th to the east, inclining a little to the south, till I arrived in the latitude of 45 degrees 47 minutes south, and in the longitude of 89 degrees 44 minutes; and then observed the variation of the needle to be 26 degrees 45 minutes towards the west.
As our author was extremely careful in this particular, and observed the variation of the needle with the utmost diligence, it may not be amiss to take this opportunity of explaining this point, so that the importance of his remarks may sufficiently appear. The needle points exactly north only in a few places, and perhaps not constantly in them; but in most it declines a little to the east, or to the west, whence arises eastern and western declination: when this was first observed, it was attributed to certain excavations or hollows in the earth, to veins of lead, stone, and other such-like causes. But when it was found by repeated experiments that this variation varied, it appeared plainly that none of those causes could take place; since if they had, the variation in the same place must always have been the same, whereas the fact is otherwise.
Here at London, for instance, in the year 1580, the variation was observed to be 11 degrees 17 minutes to the east; in the year 1666, the variation was here 34 minutes to the west; and in the year 1734, the variation was somewhat more than 1 degree west. In order to find the variation of the needle with the least error possible, the seamen take this method: they observe the point the sun is in by the compass, any time after its rising, and then take the altitude of the sun; and in the afternoon they observe when the sun comes to the same altitude, and observe the point the sun is then in by the compass; for the middle, between these two, is the true north or south point of the compass; and the difference between that and the north or south upon the card, which is pointed out by the needle, is the variation of the compass, and shows how much the north and south, given by the compass, deviates from the true north and south points of the horizon. It appears clearly, from what has been said, that in order to arrive at the certain knowledge of the variation, and of the variation of that variation of the compass, it is absolutely requisite to have from time to time distinct accounts of the variation as it is observed in different places: whence the importance of Captain Tasman’s remarks, in this respect, sufficiently appears. It is true that the learned and ingenious Dr. Halley has given a very probable account of this matter; but as the probability of that account arises only from its agreement with observations, it follows those are as necessary and as important as ever, in order to strengthen and confirm it.
On the 6th of November, I was in 49 degrees 4 minutes south latitude, and in the longitude of 114 degrees 56 minutes; the variation was at this time 26 degrees westward; and, as the weather was foggy, with hard gales, and a rolling sea from the south-west and from the south, I concluded from thence that it was not at all probable there should be any land between those two points. On November 15th I was in the latitude of 44 degrees 33 minutes south, and in the longitude of 140 degrees 32 minutes. The variation was then 18 degrees 30 minutes west, which variation decreased every day, in such a manner, that, on the 21st of the same month, being in the longitude of 158 degrees, I observed the variation to be no more than 4 degrees. On the 22nd of that month, the needle was in continual agitation, without resting in any of the eight points; which led me to conjecture that we were near some mine of loadstone.
This may, at first sight, seem to contradict what has been before laid down, as to the variation, and the causes of it: but, when strictly considered, they will be found to agree very well; for when it is asserted that veins of loadstone have nothing to do with the variation of the compass, it is to be understood of the constant variation of a few degrees to the east, or to the west: but in cases of this nature, where the variation is absolutely irregular, and the needle plays quite round the compass, our author’s conjecture may very well find place: yet it must be owned that it is a point far enough from being clear, that mines of loadstone affect the compass at a distance; which, however, might be very easily determined, since there are large mines of loadstone in the island of Elba, on the coast of Tuscany.
On the 24th of the same month, being in the latitude of 42 degrees 25 minutes south, and in the longitude of 163 degrees 50 minutes, I discovered land, which lay east-south-east at the distance of ten miles, which I called Van Diemen’s Land. The compass pointed right towards this land. The weather being bad, I steered south and by east along the coast, to the height of 44 degrees south, where the land runs away east, and afterwards north-east and by north. In the latitude of 43 degrees 10 minutes south, and in the longitude of 167 degrees 55 minutes, I anchored on the 1st of December, in a bay, which I called the Bay of Frederic Henry. I heard, or at least fancied I heard, the sound of people upon the shore; but I saw nobody. All I met with worth observing was two trees, which were two fathoms or two fathoms and a half in girth, and sixty or sixty-five feet high from the root to the branches: they had cut with a flint a kind of steps in the bark, in order to climb up to the birds’ nests: these steps were the distance of five feet from each other; so that we must conclude that either these people are of a prodigious size, or that they have some way of climbing trees that we are not used to; in one of the trees the steps were so fresh, that we judged they could not have been cut above four days.
The noise we heard resembled the noise of some sort of trumpet; it seemed to be at no great distance, but we saw no living creature notwithstanding. I perceived also in the sand the marks of wild beasts’ feet, resembling those of a tiger, or some such creature; I gathered also some gum from the trees, and likewise some lack. The tide ebbs and flows there about three feet. The trees in this country do not grow very close, nor are they encumbered with bushes or underwood. I observed smoke in several places; however, we did nothing more than set up a post, on which every one cut his name, or his mark, and upon which I hoisted a flag. I observed that in this place the variation was changed to 3 degrees eastward. On December 5th, being then, by observation, in the latitude of 41 degrees 34 minutes, and in the longitude 169 degrees, I quitted Van Diemen’s Land, and resolved to steer east to the longitude of 195 degrees, in hopes of discovering the Islands of Solomon.
On September 9th I was in the latitude of 42 degrees 37 minutes south, and in the longitude of 176 degrees 29 minutes; the variation being there 5 degrees to the east. On the 12th of the same month, finding a great rolling sea coming in on the south-west, I judged there was no land to be hoped for on that point. On the 13th, being in the latitude of 42 degrees 10 minutes south, and in the longitude of 188 degrees 28 minutes, I found the variation 7 degrees 30 minutes eastward. In this situation I discovered a high mountainous country, which is at present marked in the charts under the name of New Zealand. I coasted along the shore of this country to the north-north-east till the 18th; and being then in the latitude of 40 degrees 50 minutes south, and in the longitude of 191 degrees 41 minutes, I anchored in a fine bay, where I observed the variation to be 9 degrees towards the east.
We found here abundance of the inhabitants: they had very hoarse voices, and were very large-made people. They durst not approach the ship nearer than a stone’s throw; and we often observed them playing on a kind of trumpet, to which we answered with the instruments that were on board our vessel. These people were of a colour between brown and yellow, their hair long, and almost as thick as that of the Japanese, combed up, and fixed on the top of their heads with a quill, or some such thing, that was thickest in the middle, in the very same manner that Japanese fastened their hair behind their heads. These people cover the middle of their bodies, some with a kind of mat, others with a sort of woollen cloth, but, as for their upper and lower parts, they leave them altogether naked.
On the 19th of December, these savages began to grow a little bolder, and more familiar, insomuch that at last they ventured on board the Heemskirk in order to trade with those in the vessel. As soon as I perceived it, being apprehensive that they might attempt to surprise that ship, I sent my shallop, with seven men, to put the people in the Heemskirk upon their guard, and to direct them not to place any confidence in those people. My seven men, being without arms, were attacked by these savages, who killed three of the seven, and forced the other four to swim for their lives, which occasioned my giving that place the name of the Bay of Murderers. Our ship’s company would, undoubtedly, have taken a severe revenge, if the rough weather had not hindered them. From this bay we bore away east, having the land in a manner all round us. This country appeared to us rich, fertile, and very well situated, but as the weather was very foul, and we had at this time a very strong west wind, we found it very difficult to get clear of the land.
On the 24th of December, as the wind would not permit us to continue our way to the north, as we knew not whether we should be able to find a passage on that side, and as the flood came in from the south-east, we concluded that it would be the best to return into the bay, and seek some other way out, but on the 26th, the wind becoming more favourable, we continued our route to the north, turning a little to the west. On the 4th of January, 1643, being then in the latitude of 34 degrees 35 minutes south, and in the longitude of 191 degrees 9 minutes, we sailed quite to the cape, which lies north-west, where we found the sea rolling in from the north-east, whence we concluded that we had at last found a passage, which gave us no small joy. There was in this strait an island, which we called the island of the Three Kings; the cape of which we doubled, with a design to have refreshed ourselves; but, as we approached it, we perceived on the mountain thirty or five-and-thirty persons, who, as far as we could discern at such a distance, were men of very large size, and had each of them a large club in his hand: they called out to us in a rough strong voice, but we could meet understand anything of what they said. We observed that these people walked at a very great rate, and that they took prodigious large strides. We made the tour of the island, in doing which we saw but very few inhabitants; nor did any of the country seem to be cultivated; we found, indeed, a fresh-water river, and then we resolved to sail east, as far as 220 degrees of longitude; and from thence north, as far as the latitude of 17 degrees south; and thence to the west, till we arrived at the isles of Cocos and Horne, which were discovered by William Schovten, where we intended to refresh ourselves, in case we found no opportunity of doing it before, for though we had actually landed on Van Diemen’s Land, we met with nothing there; and, as for New Zealand, we never set foot on it.
In order to render this passage perfectly intelligible it is necessary to observe that the island of Cocos lies in the latitude of 15 degrees 10 minutes south; and, according to Schovten’s account, is well inhabited, and well cultivated, abounding with all sorts of refreshments; but, at the same time, he describes the people as treacherous and base to the last degree. As for the islands of Horne, they lie nearly in the latitude of 15 degrees, are extremely fruitful, and inhabited by people of a kind and gentle disposition, who readily bestowed on the Hollanders whatever refreshments they could ask. It was no wonder, therefore, that, finding themselves thus distressed, Captain Tasman thought of repairing to these islands, where he was sure of obtaining refreshments, either by fair means or otherwise, which design, however, he did not think fit to put in execution.
On the 8th of January, being in the latitude of 30 degrees 25 minutes south, and in the longitude of 192 degrees 20 minutes, we observed the variation of the needle to be 90 degrees towards the east, and as we had a high rolling sea from the south-west, I conjectured there could not be any land hoped for on that side. On the 12th we found ourselves in 30 degrees 5 minutes south latitude, and in 195 degrees 27 minutes of longitude, where we found the variation 9 degrees 30 minutes to the east, a rolling sea from the south-east and from the south-west. It is very plain, from these observations, that the position laid down by Dr. Halley, that the motion of the needle is not governed by the poles of the world, but by other poles, which move round them, is highly probable, for otherwise it is not easy to understand how the needle came to have, as our author affirms it had, a variation of near 27 degrees to the west, in the latitude of 45 degrees 47 minutes, and then gradually decreasing till it had no variation at all; after which it turned east, in the latitude of 42 degrees 37 minutes, and so continued increasing its variation eastwardly to this time.
On the 16th we were in the latitude of 26 degrees 29 minutes south, and in the longitude of 199 degrees 32 minutes, the variation of the needle being 8 degrees. Here we are to observe that the eastern variation decreases, which is likewise very agreeable to Doctor Halley’s hypothesis; which, in few words, is this: that a certain large solid body contained within, and every way separated from the earth (as having its own proper motion), and being included like a kernel in its shell, revolves circularly from east to west, as the exterior earth revolves the contrary way in the diurnal motion, whence it is easy to explain the position of the four magnetical poles which he attributes to the earth, by allowing two to the nucleus, and two to the exterior earth. And, as the two former perpetually alter the situation by their circular motion, their virtue, compared with the exterior poles, must be different at different times, and consequently the variation of the needle will perpetually change. The doctor attributes to the nucleus an European north pole and an American south one, on account of the variation of variations observed near these places, as being much greater than those found near the two other poles. And he conjectures that these poles will finish their revolution in about seven hundred years, and after that time the same situation of the poles obtain again as at present, and, consequently, the variations will be the same again over all the globe; so that it requires several ages before this theory can be thoroughly adjusted. He assigns this probable cause of the circular revolution of the nucleus that the diurnal motion, being impressed from without, was not so exactly communicated to the internal parts as to give them the same precise velocity of rotation as the external, whence the nucleus, being left behind by the exterior earth, seems to move slowly in a contrary direction, as from east to west, with regard to the external earth, considered as at rest in respect of the other. But to return to our voyage.
On the 19th of January, being in the latitude of 22 degrees 35 minutes south, and in the longitude of 204 degrees 15 minutes, we had 7 degrees 30 minutes east variation. In this situation we discovered an island about two or three miles in circumference, which was, as far as we could discern, very high, steep, and barren. We were very desirous of coming nearer it, but were hindered by south-east and south-south-east winds. We called it the Isle of Pylstaart, because of the great number of that sort of birds we saw flying about it, and the next day we saw two other islands.
On the 21st, being in the latitude of 21 degrees 20 minutes south, and in the longitude of 205 degrees 29 minutes, we found our variation 7 degrees to the north-east. We drew near to the coast of the most northern island, which, though not very high, yet was the larger of the two: we called one of these islands Amsterdam, and the other Rotterdam. Upon that of Rotterdam we found great plenty of hogs, fowls, and all sorts of fruits, and other refreshments. These islanders did not seem to have the use of arms, inasmuch as we saw nothing like them in any of their hands while we were upon the island; the usage they gave us was fair and friendly, except that they would steal a little. The current is not very considerable in this place, where it ebbs north-east, and flows south~west. A south-west moon causes a spring-tide, which rises seven or eight feet at least. The wind blows there continually south-east, or south~south-east, which occasioned the Heemskirk’s being carried out of the road, but, however, without any damage. We did not fill any water here because it was extremely hard to get it to the ship.
On the 25th we were in the latitude 20 degrees 15 minutes south, and in the longitude of 206 degrees 19 minutes. The variation here was 6 degrees 20 minutes to the east; and, after leaving had sight of several other islands, we made that of Rotterdam: the islanders here resemble those on the island of Amsterdam. The people were very good-natured, parted readily with what they had, did not seem to be acquainted with the use of arms, but were given to thieving like the natives of Amsterdam Island. Here we took in water, and other refreshments, with all the conveniency imaginable. We made the whole circuit of the island, which we found well-stocked with cocoa-trees, very regularly planted; we likewise saw abundance of gardens, extremely well laid out, plentifully stocked with all kinds of fruit-trees, all planted in straight lines, and the whole kept in such excellent order, that nothing could have a better effect upon the eye. After quitting the island of Rotterdam, we had sight of several other islands; which, however, did not engage us to alter the resolution we had taken of sailing north, to the height of 17 degrees south latitude, and from thence to shape a west course, without going near either Traitor’s Island, or those of Horne, we having then a very brisk wind from the south-east, or east-south-east.
I cannot help remarking upon this part of Captain Tasman’s journal, that it is not easy to conceive, unless he was bound up by leis instructions, why he did not remain some time either at Rotterdam or at Amsterdam Island, but especially at the former; since, perhaps, there is not a place in the world so happily seated, for making new discoveries with ease and safety. He owns that he traversed the whole island, that he found it a perfect paradise, and that the people gave him not the least cause of being diffident in point of security; so that if his men had thrown up ever so slight a fortification, a part of them might have remained there in safety, while the rest had attempted the discovery of the Islands of Solomon on the one hand, or the continent of De Quiros on the other, from neither of which they were at any great distance, and, from his neglecting this opportunity, I take it for granted that he was circumscribed, both as to his course and to the time he was to employ in these discoveries, by his instructions, for otherwise so able a seaman and so curious a man as his journal shows him to have been, would not certainly have neglected so fair an opportunity.
On February 6th, being in 17 degrees 19 minutes of south latitude, and in the longitude of 201 degrees 35 minutes, we found ourselves embarrassed by nineteen or twenty small islands, every one of which was surrounded with sands, shoals, and rocks. These are marked in the charts by the name of Prince William’s Islands, or Heemskirk’s Shallows. On the 8th we were in the latitude of 15 degrees 29 minutes, and in the longitude of 199 degrees 31 minutes. We had abundance of rain, a strong wind from the north-east, or the north-north-east, with dark cold weather. Fearing, therefore, that we were run farther to the west than we thought ourselves by our reckoning, and dreading that we should fall to the south of New Guinea, or be thrown upon some unknown coast in such blowing misty weather, we resolved to stand away to the north, or to the north-north~west, till we should arrive in the latitude of 4, 5, or 6 degrees south, and then to bear away west for the coast of New Guinea, as the least dangerous way that we could take.
It is very plain from hence, that Captain Tasman had now laid aside all thoughts of discovering farther, and I think it is not difficult to guess at the reason; when he was in this latitude, he was morally certain that he could, without further difficulty, sail round by the coast of New Guinea, and so back again to the East Indies. It is therefore extremely probable that he was directed by his instructions to coast round that great southern continent already discovered, in order to arrive at a certainty whether it was joined to any other part of the world, or whether, notwithstanding its vast extent, viz., from the equator to 43 degrees of south latitude, and from the longitude of 123 degrees to near 190 degrees, it was, notwithstanding, an island. This, I say, was in all appearance the true design of his voyage, and the reason of it seems to be this: that an exact chart being drawn from his discoveries, the East India Company might have perfect intelligence of the extent and situation of this now-found country before they executed the plan they were then contriving for preventing its being visited or farther discovered by their own or any other nation; and this too accounts for the care taken in laying down the map of this country on the pavement of the new stadthouse at Amsterdam; for as this county was henceforward to remain as a kind of deposit or land of reserve in the hands of the East India Company, they took this method of intimating as much to their countrymen, so that, while strangers are gaping at this map as a curiosity, every intelligent Dutchman may say to himself, “Behold the wisdom of the East India Company. By their present empire they support the authority of this republic abroad, and by their extensive commerce enrich its subjects at home, and at the same time show us here what a reserve they have made for the benefit of posterity, whenever, through the vicissitudes to which all sublunary things are liable, their present sources of power and grandeur shall fail.”
I cannot help supporting my opinion in this respect, by putting the reader in mind of a very curious piece of ancient history, which furnishes us with the like instance in the conduct of another republic. Diodorus Siculus, in the fifth book of his Historical Library, informs us that in the African Ocean, some days’ sail west from Libya, there had been discovered an island, the soil of which was exceedingly fertile and the country no less pleasant, all the land being finely diversified by mountains and plains, the former thick clothed with trees, the latter abounding with fruits and flowers, the whole watered by innumerable rivulets, and affording so pleasant an habitation that a finer or more delightful country fancy itself could not feign; yet he assures us, the Carthagenians, those great masters of maritime power and commerce, though they had discovered this admirable island, would never suffer it to be planted, but reserved it as a sanctuary to which they might fly, whenever the ruin of their own republic left them no other resource. This tallies exactly with the policy of the Dutch East India Company, who, if they should at any time be driven from their possessions in Java, Ceylon, and other places in that neighbourhood, would without doubt retire back into the Moluccas, and avail themselves effectually of this noble discovery, which lies open to them, and has been hitherto close shut up to all the world beside. But to proceed.
On February 14th we were in the latitude of 16 degrees 30 minutes south, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 35 minutes. We had hitherto had much rain and bad weather, but this day the wind sinking, we hailed our consort the Zee–Haan, and found to our great satisfaction that our reckonings agreed. On the 20th, in the latitude of 13 degrees 45 minutes, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 35 minutes, we had dark, cloudy weather, much rain, thick fogs, and a rolling sea, on all sides the wind variable. On the 26th, in the latitude of 9 degrees 48 minutes south, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 43 minutes, we had a north~west wind, having every day, for the space of twenty-one days, rained more or less. On March 2nd, in the latitude of 9 degrees 11 minutes south, and in the longitude of 192 degrees 46 minutes, the variation was 10 degrees to the east, the wind and weather still varying. On March 8th, in the latitude of 7 degrees 46 minutes south, and in the longitude of 190 degrees 47 minutes, the wind was still variable.
On the 14th, in the latitude of 10 degrees 12 minutes south, and in the longitude of 186 degrees 14 minutes, we found the variation 8 degrees 45 minutes to the east. We passed some days without being able to take any observation, because the weather was all that time dark and rainy. On March 20th, in the latitude of 5 degrees 15 minutes south, and in the longitude of 181 degrees 16 minutes, the weather being then fair, we found the variation 9 degrees eastward. On the 22nd, in the latitude of 5 degrees 2 minutes south, and in the longitude of 178 degrees 32 minutes, we had fine fair weather, and the benefit of the east trade wind. This day we had sight of land, which lay four miles west. This land proved to be a cluster of twenty islands, which in the maps are called Anthong Java. They lie ninety miles or thereabouts from the coast of New Guinea. It may not be amiss to observe here, that what Captain Tasman calls the coast of New Guinea, is in reality the coast of New Britain, which Captain Dampier first discovered to be a large island separated from the coast of New Guinea.
On the 25th, in the latitude of 4 degrees 35 minutes south, and in the longitude of 175 degrees 10 minutes, we found the variation 9 degrees 30 minutes east. We were then in the height of the islands of Mark, which were discovered by William Schovten and James le Maire. They are fourteen or fifteen in number, inhabited by savages, with black hair, dressed and trimmed in the same manner as those we saw before at the Bay of Murderers in New Zealand. On the 29th we passed the Green Islands, and on the 30th that of St. John, which were likewise discovered by Schovten and Le Maire. This island they found to be of a considerable extent, and judged it to lie at the distance of one thousand eight hundred and forty leagues from the coast of Peru. It appeared to them well inhabited and well cultivated, abounding with flesh, fowl, fish, fruit, and other refreshments. The inhabitants made use of canoes of all sizes, were armed with slings, darts, and wooden swords, wore necklaces and bracelets of pearl, and rings in their noses. They were, however, very intractable, notwithstanding all the pains that could be taken to engage them in a fair correspondence, so that Captain Schovten was at last obliged to fire upon them to prevent them from making themselves masters of his vessel, which they attacked with a great deal of vigour; and very probably this was the reason that Captain Tasman did not attempt to land or make any farther discovery. On April 1st, we were in the latitude of 4 degrees 30 minutes south, and in the longitude of 171 degrees 2 minutes, the variation being 8 degrees 45 minutes to the east, having now sight of the coast of New Guinea; and endeavouring to double the cape which the Spaniards call Cobo Santa Maria, we continued to sail along the coast which lies north-west. We afterwards passed the islands of Antony Caens, Gardeners Island, and Fishers Island, advancing towards the promontory called Struis Hoek, where the coast runs south and south~east. We resolved to pursue the same route, and to continue steering south till we should either discover land or a passage on that side.
It is necessary to observe, that all this time they continued on the coast, not of New Guinea but of New Britain, for that cape which the Spaniards called Santa Maria is the very same that Captain Dampier called Cape St. George, and Caens, Gardeners, and Fishers Islands all lie upon the same coast. They had been discovered by Schovten and Le Maire, who found them to be well inhabited, but by a very base and treacherous people, who, after making signs of peace, attempted to surprise their ships; and these islanders managed their slings with such force and dexterity, as to drive the Dutch sailors from their decks; which account of Le Maire’s agree perfectly well with what Captain Dampier tells us of the same people. As for the continent of New Guinea, it lies quite behind the island of New Britain, and was therefore laid down in all the charts before Dampier’s discovery, at least four degrees more to the east than it should have been.
On April 12th, in the latitude of 3 degrees 45 minutes south, and in the longitude of 167 degrees, we found the variation 10 degrees towards the east. That night part of the crew were wakened out of their sleep by an earthquake. They immediately ran upon deck, supposing that the ship had struck. On heaving the lead, however, there was no bottom to be found. We had afterwards several shocks, but none of them so violent as the first. We had then doubled the Struis Hoek, and were at that time in the Bay of Good Hope. On the 14th, in the latitude of 5 degrees 27 minutes south, and in the longitude of 166 degrees 57 minutes, we observed the variation to be 9 degrees 15 minutes to the east. The land lay then north-east, east-north-east, and again south-south-west, so that we imagined there had been a passage between those two points; but we were soon convinced of our mistake, and that it was all one coast, so that we were obliged to double the West Cape and to continue creeping along shore, and were much hindered in our passage by calms. This description agrees very well with that of Schovten and Le Maire, so that probably they had now sight again of the coast of New Guinea.
It is very probable, from the accident that happened to Captain Tasman, and which also happened to others upon that coast, and from the burning mountains that will be hereafter mentioned, that this country is very subject to earthquakes, and if so, without doubt it abounds with metals and minerals, of which we have also another proof from a point in which all these writers agree, viz., that the people they saw had rings on their noses and ears, though none of them tell us of what metal these rings were made, which Le Maire might easily have done, since he carried off a man from one of the islands whose name was Moses, from whom he learned that almost every nation on this coast speaks a different language.
On the 20th, in the latitude of 5 degrees 4 minutes south, and in the longitude 164 degrees 27 minutes, we found the variation 8 degrees 30 minutes east. We that night drew near the Brandande Yland, i.e., burning island, which William Schovten mentions, and we perceived a great flame issuing, as he says, from the top of a high mountain. When we were between that island and the continent, we saw a vast number of fires along the shore and half-way up the mountain, from whence we concluded that the country must be very populous. We were often detained on this coast by calms, and frequently observed small trees, bamboos, and shrubs, which the rivers on that coast carried into the sea; from which we inferred that this part of the country was extremely well watered, and that the land must be very good. The next morning we passed the burning mountain, and continued a west-north-west course along that coast.
It is remarkable that Schovten had made the same observation with respect to the driftwood forced by the rivers into the sea. He likewise observed that there was so copious a discharge of fresh water, that it altered the colour and the taste of the sea. He likewise says that the burning island is extremely well peopled, and also well cultivated. He afterwards anchored on the coast of the continent, and endeavoured to trade with the natives, who made him pay very dear for hogs and cocoa~nuts, and likewise showed him some ginger. It appears from Captain Tasman’s account that he was now in haste to return to Batavia, and did not give himself so much trouble as at the beginning about discoveries, and to say the truth, there was no great occasion, if, as I observed, his commission was no more than to sail round the new discovered coasts, in order to lay them down with greater certainty in the Dutch charts.
On the 27th, being in the latitude of 2 degrees 10 minutes south, and in the longitude of 146 degrees 57 minutes, we fancied that we had a sight of the island of Moa, but it proved to be that of Jama, which lies a little to the east of Moa. We found here great plenty of cocoa-nuts and other refreshments. The inhabitants were absolutely black, and could easily repeat the words that they heard others speak, which shows their own to be a very copious language. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to pronounce, because they make frequent use of the letter R, and sometimes to such a degree that it occurs twice or thrice in the same word. The next day we anchored on the coast of the island of Moa, where we likewise found abundance of refreshments, and where we were obliged by bad weather to stay till May 9th. We purchased there, by way of exchange, six thousand cocoa-nuts, and a hundred bags of pysanghs or Indian figs. When we first began to trade with these people, one of our seamen was wounded by an arrow that one of the natives let fly, either through malice or inadvertency. We were at that very juncture endeavouring to bring our ships close to the shore, which so terrified these islanders, that they brought of their own accord on board us, the man who had shot the arrow and left him at our mercy. We found them after this accident much more tractable than before in every respect. Our sailors, therefore, pulled off the iron hoops from some of the old water~casks, stuck them into wooden handles, and filing them to an edge, sold these awkward knives to the inhabitants for their fruits.
In all probability they had not forgot what happened to our people on July 16th, 1616, in the days of William Schovten: these people, it seems, treated him very ill; upon which James le Maire brought his ship close to the shore, and fired a broadside through the woods; the bullets, flying through the trees, struck the negroes with such a panic, that they fled in an instant up into the country, and durst not show their heads again till they had made full satisfaction for what was past, and thereby secured their safety for the time to come; and he traded with them afterwards very peaceably, and with mutual satisfaction.
This account of our author’s seems to have been taken upon memory, and is not very exact. Schovten’s seamen, or rather the petty officer who commanded his long boat, insulted the natives grossly before they offered any injury to his people; and then, notwithstanding they fired upon them with small arms, the islanders obliged them to retreat; so that they were forced to bring the great guns to bear upon the island before they could reduce them. These people do not deserve to be treated as savages, because Schovten acknowledges that they had been engaged in commerce with the Spaniards; as appeared by their having iron pots, glass beads, and pendants, with other European commodities, before he came thither. He also tells us that they were a very civilised people, their country well cultivated and very fruitful; that they had a great many boats, and other small craft, which they navigated with great dexterity. He adds also, that they gave him a very distinct account of the neighbouring islands, and that they solicited him to fire upon the Arimoans, with whom it seems they are always at war; which, however, he refused to do, unless provoked to it by some injury offered by those people. It is therefore very apparent that the inhabitants of Moa are a people with whom any Europeans, settled in their neighbourhood, might without any difficulty settle a commerce, and receive considerable assistance from them in making discoveries. But perhaps some nations are fitter for these kind of expeditions than others, as being less apt to make use of their artillery and small arms upon every little dispute; for as the inhabitants of Moa are well enough acquainted with the superiority which the Europeans have over them, it cannot be supposed that they will ever hazard their total destruction by committing any gross act of cruelty upon strangers who visit their coast; and it is certainly very unfair to treat people as savages and barbarians, merely for defending themselves when insulted or attacked without cause. The instance Captain Tasman gives us of their delivering up the man who wounded his sailor is a plain proof of this; and as to the diffidence and suspicion which some later voyagers have complained of with respect to the inhabitants of this island, they must certainly be the effects of the bad behaviour of such Europeans as this nation have hitherto dealt with, and would be effectually removed, if ever they had a settled experience of a contrary conduct. The surest method of teaching people to behave honestly towards us is to behave friendly and honestly towards them, and then there is no great reason to fear, that such as give evident proofs of capacity and civility in the common affairs of life should be guilty of treachery that must turn to their own disadvantage.
On the 12th of May, being then in the latitude of 54 minutes south, and in the longitude of 153 degrees 17 minutes, we found the variation 6 degrees 30 minutes to the east. We continued coasting the north side of the island of William Schovten, which is about eighteen or nineteen miles long, very populous, and the people very brisk and active. It was with great caution that Schovten gave his name to this island, for having observed that there were abundance of small islands laid down in the charts on the coast of New Guinea, he was suspicious that this might be of the number. But since that time it seems a point generally agreed, that this island had not before any particular name; and therefore, in all subsequent voyages, we find it constantly mentioned by the name of Schovten’s Island.
He describes it as a very fertile and well-peopled island; the inhabitants of which were so far from discovering anything of a savage nature, that they gave apparent testimonies of their having had an extensive commerce before he touched there, since they not only showed him various commodities from the Spaniards, but also several samples of China ware; he observes that they are very unlike the nations he had seen before, being rather of an olive colour than black; some having short, others long hair, dressed after different fashions; they were also a taller, stronger, and stouter people than their neighbours. These little circumstances, which may seem tedious or trifling to such as read only for amusement, are, however, of very great importance to such as have discoveries in view; because they argue that these people have a general correspondence; the difference of their complexion must arise from a mixed descent; and the different manner of wearing their hair is undoubtedly owing to their following the fashion of different nations, as their fancies lead them. He farther observes that their vessels were larger and better contrived than their neighbours; that they readily parted with their bows and arrows in exchange for goods, and that they were particularly fond of glass and ironware, which, perhaps, they not only used themselves, but employed likewise in their commerce. The most western point of the island he called the Cape of Good Hope, because by doubling that cape he expected to reach the island of Banda; and that we may not wonder that he was in doubts and difficulties as to the situation on of these places, we ought to reflect that Schovten was the first who sailed round the world by this course, and the last too, except Commodore Roggewein, other navigators choosing rather to run as high as California, and from thence to the Ladrone Islands, merely because it is the ordinary route.
In the neighbourhood of this island Schovten also met with an earthquake, which alarmed the ship’s company excessively, from an apprehension that they had struck upon a rock. There are some other islands in the neighbourhood of this, well peopled, and well planted, abounding with excellent fruits, especially of the melon kind. These islands lie, as it were, on the confines of the southern continent, and the East Indies, so that the inhabitants enjoy all the advantages resulting from their own happy climate, and from their traffic with their neighbours, especially with those of Ternate and Amboyna, who come thither yearly to purchase their commodities, and who are likewise visited at certain seasons by the people of these islands in their turn.
On the 18th of May, in the latitude of 26 minutes south and in the longitude of 147 degrees 55 minutes, we observed the variation to be 5 degrees 30 minutes east. We were now arrived at the western extremity of New Guinea, which is a detached point or promontory (though it is not marked so even in the latest maps); here we met with calms, variable and contrary winds, with much rain; from thence we steered for Ceram, leaving the Cape on the north, and arrived safely on that island; by this time Captain Tasman had fairly surrounded the continent he was instructed to discover, and had therefore nothing now farther in view than to return to Batavia, in order to report the discoveries he had made.
On the 27th of May we passed through the straits of Boura, or Bouton, and continued our passage to Batavia, where we arrived on the 15th of June, in the latitude of 6 degrees 12 minutes south, and in the longitude of 127 degrees 18 minutes. This voyage was made in the space of ten months. Such was the end of this expedition, which has been always considered as the clearest and most exact that was ever made for the discovery of the Terra Australis Incognita, from whence that chart and map was laid down in the pavement of the stadt-house at Amsterdam, as is before mentioned. We have now nothing to do but to shut up this voyage and our history of circumnavigators, with a few remarks, previous to which it will be requisite to state clearly and succinctly the discoveries, either made or confirmed by Captain Tasman’s voyage, that the importance of it may fully appear, as well as the probability of our conjectures with regard to the motives that induced the Dutch East India Company to be at so much pains about these discoveries.
In the first place, then, it is most evident, from Captain Tasman’s voyage, that New Guinea, Carpentaria, New Holland, Antony van Diemen’s Land, and the countries discovered by De Quiros, make all one continent, from which New Zealand seems to be separated by a strait; and, perhaps, is part of another continent, answering to Africa, as this, of which we are now speaking, plainly does to America. This continent reaches from the equinoctial to 44 degrees of south latitude, and extends from 122 degrees to 188 degrees of longitude, making indeed a very large country, but nothing like what De Quiros imagined; which shows how dangerous a thing it is to trust too much to conjecture in such points as these. It is, secondly, observable, that as New Guinea, Carpentaria, and New Holland, had been already pretty well examined, Captain Tasman fell directly to the south of these; so that his first discovery was Van Diemen’s Land, the most southern part of the continent on this side the globe, and then passing round by New Zealand, he plainly discovered the opposite side of that country towards America, though he visited the islands only, and never fell in again with the continent till he arrived on the coast of New Britain, which he mistook for that of New Guinea, as he very well might; that country having never been suspected to be an island, till Dampier discovered it to be such in the beginning of the present century. Thirdly, by this survey, these countries are for ever marked out, so long as the map or memory of this voyage, shall remain. The Dutch East India Company have it always in their power to direct settlements, or new discoveries, either in New Guinea, from the Moluccas, or in New Holland, from Batavia directly. The prudence shown in the conduct of this affair deserves the highest praise. To have attempted heretofore, or even now, the establishing colonies in those countries, would be impolitic, because it would be grasping more than the East India Company, or than even the republic of Holland, could manage; for, in the first place, to reduce a continent between three and four thousand miles broad is a prodigious undertaking, and to settle it by degrees would be to open to all the world the importance of that country which, for anything we can tell, may be much superior to any country yet known: the only choice, therefore, that the Dutch had left, was to reserve this mighty discovery till the season arrived, in which they should be either obliged by necessity or invited by occasion to make use of it; but though this country be reserved, it is no longer either unknown or neglected by the Dutch, which is a point of very great consequence. To the other nations of Europe, the southern continent is a chimera, a thing in the clouds, or at least a country about which there are a thousand doubts and suspicions, so that to talk of discovering or settling it must be regarded as an idle and empty project: but, with respect to them, it is a thing perfectly well known; its extent, its boundaries, its situation, the genius of its several nations, and the commodities of which they are possessed, are absolutely within their cognisance, so that they are at liberty to take such measures as appear to them best, for securing the eventual possession of this country, whenever they think fit. This account explains at once all the mysteries which the best writers upon this subject have found in the Dutch proceedings. It shows why they have been at so much pains to obtain a clear and distinct survey of these distant countries; why they have hitherto forborne settling, and why they take so much pains to prevent other nations from coming at a distinct knowledge of them: and I may add to this another particular, which is that it accounts for their permitting the natives of Amboyna, who are their subjects, to carry on a trade to New Guinea, and the adjacent countries, since, by this very method, it is apparent that they gain daily fresh intelligence as to the product and commodities of those countries. Having thus explained the consequence of Captain Tasman’s voyage, and thereby fully justified my giving it a place in this part of my work, I am now at liberty to pursue the reflections with which I promised to close this section, and the history of circumnavigators, and in doing which, I shall endeavour to make the reader sensible of the advantages that arise from publishing these voyages in their proper order, so as to show what is, and what is yet to be discovered of the globe on which we live.
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.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55