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Title: Voyage of Discovery to N.S.W. in the Lady Nelson in 1800-2] Author: James Grant * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1300421h.html Language: English Date first posted: January 2013 Date most recently updated: January 2013 Produced by: Ned Overton Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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All but one of the chapter headings in the Contents are absent in the body of the text. These, together with the heading "CHAPTER I.", etc., have been added to this book. A list of illustrations has also been added to the contents page. A copy of Grant's Chart, sourced from the National Library of Australia and absent from the scanned copy of this work, has been included here.
The erratum noted at the beginning has been corrected in the body of the book. No changes have been made to the archaisms (e.g. "stopt") or to a number of inconsistencies in spelling, e.g. Worogan/Worrogan, Francis/Frances, etc. Each footnote has been placed at the end of the paragraph to which it refers.
Remarks on the CAPE DE VERD ISLANDS, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, the hitherto Unknown Parts of NEW HOLLAND, discovered by him in his Passage (the first ever attempted from Europe) through the STREIGHT separating that Island from the Land discovered by VAN DIEMAN:
Various Details of his Interviews with the NATIVES of NEW SOUTH WALES; Observations on the SOIL, NATURAL PRODUCTIONS, &c. not known or very slightly treated of by former NAVIGATORS; with his Voyage home in the Brig ANNA JOSEPHA round CAPE HORN; and an Account of the Present State of FALKLAND ISLANDS.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
AN ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN OF SLIDING KEELS,
AND THE ADVANTAGES RESULTING PROM THEIR USE;
With an APPENDIX of ORDERS, CERTIFICATES, AND EXAMINATIONS, relative to the TRIAL CUTTER.
THE WHOLE ILLUSTRATED WITH ELEGANT ENGRAVINGS.
Printed by C. Roworth, Bell Yard, Fleet Street,
FOR T. EGERTON, MILITARY LIBRARY, WHITEHALL.
TO HIS GRACE
THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND, K.G.
GENERAL OF HIS MAJESTY'S FORCES,
&c. &c. &c.
IS MOST HUMBLY INSCRIBED BY
LIEUTENANT OF HIS MAJESTY'S ROYAL NAVY,
IN GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT
OF FAVOURS RECEIVED
AS A WEAK TESTIMONY OF HIS GRACE'S
OF GOOD ARTS IN GENERAL,
AND NAVAL ARCHITECTURE IN PARTICULAR.
ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGIN OF SLIDING
1. They will sail faster, steer easier, and tack and wear
quicker, and in less room.
1. Vessels thus constructed will answer better as Coasters of
all kinds, and for the Coal Trade.
The Lady Nelson takes her Departure from the River Thames on the 13th January, 1800, meets with blowing Weather, and arrives in Portsmouth Harbour—Many supposing her unfit for the Voyage, the Crew become dissatisfied, and the Carpenter deserts—She sails with the East India Fleet—Is taken in tow by the Brunswick East Indiaman—Proves to have been negligently fitted out—Ceases to be towed—Precautions for the Preservation of the Crew's Health—She falls in with the Hussar Man of War and the West India Fleet—Sliding Keels found useful—She passes Madeira and steers for the Canaries—Sees Salt, one of the Cape Verd Islands—That Island described—St. Jago being seen she makes for Port Praya—The Bay of St. Francis mistaken for it—Marks whereby to distinguish the one from the other—Arrival at Port Praya, and Occurrences there—She leaves St. Jago on the 27th April—Observation on crossing the Equinoctial Line—A Lunar Rainbow—The Sea breaks in an extraordinary Manner—Conjectures thereon—A Vessel in Distress—The Lady Nelson arrives at the Cape and anchors in Table Bay on the 8th of July.
The Sliding Keels are inspected and repaired—The Lady Nelson sails and anchors in Simon's Bay—Being ordered to stay at the Cape until the Commencement of Summer, her Commander makes some Excursions inland—Heights of different Parts of the Table Mountain—Cape Town described—Wineberg—Elephants River.
Brandt's Valley. Swaartberg—Some Account of Dr. Brandt, his Dog and Monkey—Land about Simon's Bay and Town described—Remarks on the Cape of Good Hope, the Dutch Settlers, Hottentots, Caffres, and Boschmen—Arrival of East Indiamen outward-bound—The Lady Nelson thought incapable of making the Run to New Holland—A Mutineer is sent on board her, who proves useful and is liberated—Acknowledgment of Favours received from several Persons at the Cape—The Lady Nelson sails from the Cape, October 7th.
A higher Southern Latitude chosen than common; and why—Further Advantages experienced from Sliding Keels—A Pintado Bird comes on board—Peculiar Method of acquiring Prey used by a Species of Sea Fowl—Amsterdam Island seen and passed—Whales observed in great Numbers—Land of New Holland descried on the 3d of December—The Lady Nelson anchors in Sydney Cove on the 16th.
Port Jackson, Sydney and Paramatta described—State of the Convicts—The Lady Nelson paid off 31st December, 1800—Her Commander appointed at Home to His Majesty's Armed Vessel Supply, then in New South Wales, she is found there unfit for Service—He resumes the Command of the Lady Nelson on the 1st of January, 1801—She is manned with Convicts, and the consequence of that Measure—Mr. Black from the Cape arrives by way of Bass's Streights—The Brig Margaret, Byers, from England, arrives by the same Passage—Garden Island allotted for the Purpose of raising Vegetables for the Lady Nelson—Doctor Brandt is settled there—His Boat lost, and a Search instituted for its Recovery—A fugitive Convict met with—His miserable Situation, and the melancholy Fate of his Comrades—Bugle Horns useful in pathless Woods—An uncommon Aquatic Plant—The Epidermis, a Marine Production—Further Objections to the Sea-worthiness of the Lady Nelson—Object proposed by Captain Schank from this Voyage—Sail in Company with the Bee Sloop to make further Discoveries—The Sloop being found unfit for the Voyage is dismissed—The Lady Nelson anchors in Jarvis's Bay—A Native taken on board; his Surprise at all he sees—Interviews with other Natives—Their Canoes described—The Natives use Paint; one of them adorned with the Ship's Paint—New Hollanders discovered to be Men-eaters—Mr. Cayley, a Botanist, collects some rare Plants—A Search after Kangaroos, which proves unsuccessful—Laughing Birds—Fire-places discovered, with Human. Bones scattered round them—Further Proofs that the Natives are Cannibals—Opinion of Mr. Thomas, an eminent Anatomist, respecting some Human Bones found and sent home—The Surveying Chain lost, and recovered with some deficiency—Marks of the Small Pox observed on the Natives—Speak with the Britannia, a Whaler, from England—An Island discovered, and a Garden planted on it—Dexterity of a Native in striking a small Fish with a Wooden Spear—Euranabie and his Wife Worogan—The Women of New Holland often destroy their new-born and weakly Children—The Bell Bird—The whistling Duck—A strange Animal appears; but escapes Discovery—The Lady Nelson's Construction found of Use on her being left by the Tide—Margaret's Island described—The Bull Frog common to New South Wales—Tracks of Dogs discovered—Difference of the Tracks of the Tyger and the Wolf or Dog—Directions for Western Port; its Importance; with other Observations respecting the Navigation of Bass's Streights—The Sliding Keels are lifted up and give Warning of Ground—Arrival at Port Jackson 14th May, 1801—The Lady Nelson is ordered to Hunter's or Coal River 10th June—She falls in with the Ship Cornwallis, bringing Convicts from England—Mistake of a Pilot—Budgerie Dick, a Native—A Mine of excellent Coals—The Nettle Tree—The Wild Cat—A Man cast away, found nearly starved to death—A Bush Native—Mr. Lewin, a Draughtsman—The Cabra, a Worm eaten by the Natives—More Natives—Their Surprise at the Report and Effects of a Fowling-piece—Presents of Tomahawks made the Natives—Discovery of a new and promising Species of Flax—Colonel Paterson's Collection of rare Plants destroyed by an Accident—Arrival at Sydney, 25th July, 1801.
Sail from Port Jackson, November 9th, 1801, make the Land about Cape Horn in January, 1802—Anchor on the 21st in Hope Bay, in Falkland's Islands—Description of these Islands—Sail for the Cape of Good Hope 27th January, and are becalmed—In great Distress for Provisions—Arrive in Table Bay 1st April, 1802.
Sail for England in His Majesty's Ship Imperieuse, Captain Rowley, Commander.
VIEW of the LADY NELSON in the
The following Islands, Bays, Capes, &c. being new Discoveries, were thus first named; and are noticed in the Pages herein-mentioned.
|Cape Albany Otway||Elizabeth Cove or Bay|
|Ann's Mountain||Elizabeth's Mountain|
|Ash Island||Gambier's Mountain|
|Cape Banks||Governor King's Bay|
|Coal Island||King George's Sound|
|Cape Danger||Lady Julia Percy's Island|
|The Devil's Tower, a steep Rock||Lady Nelson's Point|
|Cape Dromedary||Cape Liptrap|
|Mount Egerton||Margaret's Island|
|Marsh's Island, see Chart||Schank's Mountain|
|Moncur's Island||Schank's Forest, Pasture Plains|
|Cape Nelson||Shoal Inlet|
|Cape Northumberland||Sir Roger Curtis's Island|
|Sir William Grant's Cape|
|Cape Paterson||Snapper Island|
|Cape Patton||South Cape, or Wilson's Promon-|
|Rodondo, otherwise Redunder||Western Port|
In Page 99, for Eye Sketch, referred to, read CHART.
Directions to the Binder.
Place the large Sheet of the Sliding
Keels before the Title Page.
The Coloured Print of the Bird is to be placed before Page 135.
The Chart and other Plates have the proper Pages engraved, according to which they are to be placed.
THE great utility of vessels constructed with Sliding Keels, having been fully proved in the Lady Nelson, a vessel of sixty tons burthen, sent on a Voyage of Discovery to New South Wales, as will appear by the Narrative contained in the following sheets, I am induced to believe this short account of the rise, progress, and present state of the invention itself, will not fail to give satisfaction to my Readers, many of whom, though of the nautical profession, may not be thoroughly acquainted with their construction and use.
The Sliding Keels, of which the annexed Plate will give a clearer and more perfect idea than can be conveyed by words, is an improvement in ship-building, for which this Country is (and all maritime Europe will hereafter probably be,) indebted to the skill and ingenuity of Captain John Schank, of the Royal Navy, formerly one of the Commissioners of the Transport Board. This Gentleman, during the American War, gave evident proofs of his talent for invention and resource on the Lakes of that Continent, and any attempt on my part to write his eulogy would be superfluous: suffice it to say, that he has always distinguished himself as the disinterested friend of mankind, and a sincere well-wisher of his Country.
It was in America, during the fatal contest betwixt the Mother Country and her Colonies, that Captain Schank obtained the favour and patronage of his Grace the Duke of Northumberland, then Earl Percy, who was on service there with his regiment. His Grace had so long ago as that period discovered a taste for naval architecture, the knowledge of which he now possesses in an eminent degree. It was there in a conversation on the art of ship-building, betwixt his Grace and Captain Schank, that the idea of Sliding Keels first suggested itself to the latter.
His Grace observing, that "if Cutters were built much flatter, so as to go on the surface and not draw much water, they would sail faster, and might still be enabled to carry as much sail, and keep up to the wind, by having their Keels descend to a greater depth; and that the flat side of the Keel when presented to the water would even make them able to spread more canvas, and hold the wind better, than on a construction whereby they present only the circular surface of the body to the water." Captain Schank coincided in this opinion, and observed, that if this deep Keel was made moveable, and to be screwed upwards into a trunk or well formed within the vessel, so as that on necessity they might draw little water, all these advantages might be obtained.
Captain Schank having maturely considered the principle thus suggested, was fully convinced of its use and practicability, and afterwards (viz. in 1774) solicited Lord Percy, then at Boston in New England, to permit him to build a boat for his Lordship upon that construction. He did so, and it was found to answer in every respect.
In 1789 he built a boat at Deptford with three Sliding Keels, and in the following year the Trial cutter at Plymouth. Since that time Captain Schank has built a number of other vessels on the same construction, three of which are at this time in the service of Government: these are, the Trial cutter before mentioned, the Cynthia sloop of war, and the Lady Nelson, the smallest of the three; of the successful voyage to South Wales, in the last of which, the following sheets contain the narration.
All these vessels have proved the utility of this construction, as will appear by the Certificates contained in the Appendix. Other vessels might be mentioned, built on the account of private persons with the like construction, which have been found to answer every useful purpose.
Having now given a brief account of the origin of the invention of Sliding Keels, I shall lay before my nautical and other Readers the advantages resulting from their use; and this I am enabled to do from Papers with which I have been favoured by Captain Schank himself.
That Gentleman has comprehended their advantages under the six following heads:—1. That vessels thus constructed will sail faster, steer easier, and tack and wear quicker, and in less room: 2. They will carry more, and draw less water: 3. They will ride more easy at an anchor: 4. They will take the ground better: 5. In case of shipwreck, of springing a leak, or of a fire, they are more safe and more likely to be saved: 6. And lastly, that they will answer better as men of war, bombs, fire-ships, floating batteries, gun boats, gun batteaux, and flat-bottomed boats for landing troops.
1. With respect to vessels so constructed sailing faster, he says; it has ever been his opinion, that a ship's sailing fast does not so much depend upon her being sharp-built, as it does on her depth in the water; because water is the less easy to divide the deeper it is; to ascertain which, figures of different forms may be sunk to greater or less depth. Such experiments have been made by him, and their results have determined his predilection of the Sliding Keel.—Suppose a frigate drawing seventeen feet, and another alike in burthen drawing eleven; the last has a body of six feet less to divide, opposing only three, two, or one Keel, as may be found necessary to make her hold a good wind; while the other has six feet depressed, or about one-third of her real size opposing the water: of course she has a body of water to displace and force through equal to the difference of eleven feet to seventeen, and the deeper the stronger. North country built vessels, or those in the coal trade, are proofs of this observation. These vessels generally draw about one-third less water than other English vessels; yet when employed as Transports, they are found to sail as fast as any others; and when going before the wind, in ballast or half loaded, they frequently beat the King's ships. Now when these vessels come close hauled on a wind they drop to leeward, but had they Sliding Keels it may be presumed they would have the advantage of all others. The Dutch take little pains to make their trading vessels sail, yet when these are light they sail fast before the wind, and this by reason of their small draught of water. That nation has likewise other flat vessels; such as pilot boats, yagers for carrying the first herrings to market, and pleasure boats, all of which have lee-boards, by the help of which they sail as fast as most other vessels in the Northern Seas. Vessels with Sliding Keels will steer better, be safer, and receive many advantages in consequence of steering easy and with little helm. The use of the Sliding Keels in steering is seen in every action of the ship's movement; by the Sliding Keels the ship's course is kept in a more direct line, for the easier the ship steers the nearer she goes on a given point, and the ship's hull, as well as the stern-post, rudder, masts, rigging, and sails are less strained. In place of two, three or four men at the helm, the largest ship may be steered by one. This is a great advantage, for it is not uncommon that vessels steer ill even in fresh breezes or light winds, so as not to be able when the wind is on their quarter to carry all their sails, and thereby are necessitated to go one or two knots an hour slower. Through such defect, and with such a wind, they lose in the twenty-four hours as many knots or double that number. This in the distance, besides what may be lost in longitude or latitude by an incorrect course. Hereby the loss of the ship might be occasioned; for even with a good observation the error of the longitude cannot be rectified. But if no observation should happen to be taken, and the steerage be wild, the error may be great, and the ship in danger in making the land. But the worst consequence of a difficulty in steering is, what it is to be feared has too frequently happened, though rarely heard of, and that is the ship's broaching-to. This, though sometimes the consequence of wild or careless steerage, is more frequently occasioned by strong gales and high seas. Thus, for instance, a ship scudding before the wind, or quartering, having little sail set, and that low, such as a reefed fore-sail, when between two seas, is almost becalmed, and therefore loses her way: the next or following sea raises her stern, her bow inclines downwards, the cutwater having a different direction from the intended course, the stern by this is lifted so high that the rudder has little or no power, it being almost out of water. In this situation, the ship pressed on the lee-bow by the water having got on the weather quarter and the ship on the top of the sea, she flies with such violence as to bring her head round; and then lying on the broadside she plunges with the greatest velocity into a high or raging sea, the water breaks into her, washing and carrying away every thing off the deck, frequently some the crew; and it is to be feared by such accidents vessels themselves go to the bottom, and are no more heard of. Now there is nothing more clear and certain, than that Sliding Keels counteract these dreadful effects; for in a fresh breeze or light winds all possible sail may be made without regard to the wind or on what mast sail is carried. The moment sail is made, and the course shaped, the Keels may be raised or lowered, until the ship is found to steer easy, and with little helm, by which means quick progress is made, a straight or direct course, and an easy ship. To prevent the dreadful accident of the vessel's broaching-to, no more need be done than to heave the main and fore Keels close up, and let down as much as is thought necessary of the after Keel; and if enough of it is down, it is impossible that any ship can meet with this accident. How pleasing must this reflection prove to the minds of every one on board; but more especially to him, with whom the ship's safety and the lives of all on board are particularly intrusted, and whose memory may suffer from an accident, which neither his prudence could foresee, nor his presence of mind prevent; and of which, perhaps, he himself falls the unfortunate victim!
Vessels having three or only two Sliding Keels must tack quicker and in less room, because the foremost Keel and the after one have each an effect on them nearly equal to the rudder. Therefore when going about or working to windward in a narrow channel, river, &c. where the vessel has little room, they may venture to stand nearer the shore, being more certain of not missing stays. Thus, for instance, in tacking or going about, it has been experienced that to heave up the after-keel and let the fore-keel close down, at the same time putting the helm a-lee, will make the vessel come much faster round than if she was without Sliding Keels. Indeed, in the latter case, the difference is so great, that it is as much as the men can do to work or attend the sails, and in a fresh gale they can scarcely trim them in time. The next advantage from the fore-keel is, that being hove up as soon as the ship is right with her head to the wind, it remains ready to prevent what happens to most square-rigged vessels, her falling round off, and thereby losing a deal of ground, time and tide: therefore the instant the sails are full, and the vessel has hauled off, and is falling off more, the fore-keel must be hove down which will stop her, and with the least headway she flies to as fast as if coming about; and even must be prevented coming round by again raising the fore-keel a little up. Vessels with this construction wanting to wear are to heave up the fore-keel, and heave down the after-keel; and if it be requisite to wear very quick the main-keel should be hove up also; vessels will then turn or come round as if upon a pivot, the rudder being used at the same time as in common cases. The reason of this is plain; for the fore and main keels being up and the after-keel down, the latter acts as a rudder, and hinders reaching, the effect of it being not unlike what would be produced by a rope fastened to the stern of a vessel in the tide's way, which the moment her head is at liberty would swing round with her stern to the tide. In the same manner a vessel drawing more water aft than forward, when she takes the ground with her keel, turns her head round from the sea or tide.
2. Vessels constructed with Sliding Keels will carry more freight, and draw less water. It is well known to every person conversant in naval architecture, that different constructions of vessels cause a difference in the quantity carried. Vessels sharp fore and aft lose a great deal of stowage, and some of them carry the floor so straight and narrow the whole of their length, that by looking down into their holds the difference is easily discernible by the eye. For this reason it is impossible a true measurement can be made, so that, notwithstanding all that has been written on the subject by mathematicians of different nations, no method will ever be discovered to ascertain a true measurement of vessels until they shall be built more alike. It has been observed that some vessels of the same measurement would not take in near the quantity they measured, whilst others took in more than theirs, and, moreover, carried it with ease. But if vessels sharp-built could be brought to hold their measurement they would not be able to carry it, owing to their sharpness forward, which would cause them to pitch and ship water. This difference is constantly to be observed as proceeding from the vessel's construction. Sharp vessels go down so fast, that by the time they come to their bearings they are full, and frequently not near loaded; whereas those of flat and long floors go down slowly, and having the quantity according to what they measure, have still room for more, and are high out of the water. The improvements, therefore, which remain to be made in ship-building, must be tried on a long and flat floor; and by improvements herein, there is a promise of every advantage that can be derived from the use of shipping. On the plan of long and flat floors every thing can be obtained, except working to windward; and if Sliding Keels answer the expectation hoped from them in that respect, the point is gained, and vessels will in general hold more than they can carry; whereas at present the contrary is the case with sharp-built vessels.
That vessels thus constructed will draw less water is demonstrable, from the largest vessel in the world to the Indian canoe. The collier, the coal lighter, corn barge, bean cod, all afford proofs that the flatter a vessel is, the less water she draws; because the more space a body covers on the surface of the water the less it will sink in it.
3. Vessels constructed in the manner herein described will be more easy at an anchor, by the same reason that they sail faster, carry more, and draw less water. In proof of this assertion the same instances may be adduced. The north country shipping, and Dutch fishing vessels, ride at an anchor when no other vessels can; and this because they have long floors, are full fore and aft, rise and fall easier, that is to say, do not pitch or plunge so violently as sharp-built vessels, but have a rolling motion when at anchor, which greatly lessens their pitching and plunging. In consequence, they do not strain the cables or anchors, or the bull, so much as vessels built on a sharp construction. It is a great advantage in navigation to be able to ride at anchor safely. Voyages may be undertaken with such security, that durst not be attempted in vessels that do not ride well at anchor. One of the reasons why Captain Cook gave a preference to a North country collier for his voyages of circumnavigation was, that they more nearly possessed all these qualities now mentioned.
4. Vessels constructed in this manner will take the ground better, and sit upright and easier than others. Flat-floored vessels, not having a rank keel, when on the ground sit so that every part of their bottom, from the forming of the entrance forward to the run abaft, bear equally on it; therefore, unless the ground be as perpendicular as their sides, little danger can be apprehended. If the sand or rock be the length of the ship's bottom, or whatever length it be, if nearly even or flat, so much of the vessel's bottom will rest on the ground, and she will certainly not be strained so much as if only a small part of the middle of the vessel touched; which must be the case with a sharp-built vessel. They who have seen vessels take the ground must have observed, that sharp-built vessels, (in which number may be included the ships of war of all nations, the Dutch excepted) the instant they do so, heel in proportion as the water leaves them. Supposing a frigate in this situation, when the water is gone from her, the gun-wale would be little more than the height of a man from the ground, and the ship would lay along so much that no one could walk the deck. Thus situated the vessel would strain so much from the weight of her mast, guns, rigging, &c. that she would be ruined, even if she were to get off. But if on the flowing of the tide it blows the least wind, so that the necessary assistance cannot be given her in the act of righting, she will be filled with water by the hatchway before it flows high enough to float her. Suppose a flat and sharp vessel in company, and both running aground in a sea, the flat vessel runs on or sticks fast, in either of which cases she sits upright, but the sharp vessel heels in both. The heel the latter takes exposes her to the sea breaking upon her, and by that means either filling her or washing the crew off the deck: whereas the vessel which sits upright runs none of these risks, and unless the bottom is beat out, the chance of saving crew, ship and cargo is greatly in favour of the flat-floored vessel. This is so well known to seamen, that both English and Dutch flat-floored vessels coming into harbours where the ground is even, no matter whether soft or hard so it be smooth, have run aground in the hardest gales rather than be at the trouble or risk of bringing up: by this means they avoid the danger of breaking their cables and anchors, or running on board other vessels. It is remembered that a fleet of transports, coming into Cork Harbour for troops in a hard gale, did so, when a sharp vessel, through mistake, following the example was nearly lost.
5. In cases of shipwreck, springing a leak, or of fire, vessels thus constructed are safer, and more likely to be saved. The reasons last given explain the advantages such vessels have in case of shipwreck; however, it may be added, that the vessels thus recommended would possess a superior degree of security if built as nearly as can be solid; that is, all the frame of timber put so close as to be caulked in the same manner as the plank on the outside. And if the plank or ceiling of the inside were equally caulked, the vessel by this means would be much stronger, and of course would bear more beating on the rocks, sands, &c.: then if the rocks, &c. occasion a leak, if this leak does not go through, it will be stopt in its progress by the caulking: but if it does go through, it will more readily be heard, and of course more easily come at to be stopt. If a rock is the cause of the damage, and it goes half way or two-thirds through and sticks in the vessel, it becomes a plug for the hole it makes; and if it drop out, even then it will not occasion a leak. But if the vessel be divided into many equal rooms or different holds,* supposing a hole to be so large that all the pumps in the ship, and twenty more, cannot clear away the water that rushes in, it will then only come into that single part or division in which the leak happens to be, and will flow in no longer than till it is raised withinside to the level of the sea without. The vessel would in this case be in no more danger than before, nor would the hull be loaded or depressed in the water. The difference of construction prevents a flat vessel from oversetting as soon as a sharp vessel; and her sitting up right admits of her crew working and loading, or unloading her, as the circumstances may require. Add to all this, that inestimable advantage which the one vessel has over the other, of drawing so little water. By this the flat vessel is enabled to sail over those very rocks on which the sharp-built one will strike; and admits of the former going into shallow water, where the violence of the sea becomes less and less the nearer she approaches the shore.
[* Captain Schank is here alluding to his recommendation of dividing the hold of vessels by separate bulkheads, sufficiently secured against any communication of water from the one to the other, except by cocks in case of necessity.]
The reasons given why vessels built upon this construction stand a better chance of being saved, in case of shipwreck, will in a great measure apply to the circumstance of a ship springing a leak at sea, as the effect and appearance of the one correspond with the other, though proceeding from different causes. In the former case you are supposed to be forced on the shore or rocks by the sea, wind or tide, but in the latter to be in the ocean on your voyage at a great distance from land: your ship springs a leak which seriously alarms you; you see that you cannot pump out the water; your cocks in the bulkheads being turned directly, shew in what part of the ship the leak is; you then try with all your pumps to empty this hold, division, or room; not being able to pump it out, you try to get out of that part of the vessel what is in it, and if you can only see the bottom of the ship you will see the leak, and it must be directly stopt. Whereas, in the present construction of ships, the great inconvenience is, that the water may come from any other part of the ship, and the real situation of the leak remain undiscovered. In the case now put, supposing the worst, and that you cannot stop the leak, then putting into that part or division of the ship such things of your cargo as will not receive damage by the wet, and applying the pumps to the other parts, you proceed on your voyage with very little difference, as if no such accident had happened. It may be further observed, that the more things you put into the damaged part or division of the ship the better, as it will lessen the quantity of water, and the weight of its motion in the rolling of the ship. As ships on this construction will be more solid, it is a great chance if, in case of a shake in a plank or timber or a butt-end starting, water will find its way more than a few inches; for every part of the plank, inside and out, being closely joined together and caulked, it is impossible it should, unless the leak or hole be directly through. The same observation may be made on a shot or shots striking the ship betwixt wind and water, or even below the water-mark; whereas, according to the present construction of vessels, if a shot only splits or shatters the outside plank, or goes through into the timber or ceiling, it occasions a leak of a more dangerous nature, than if it went clear through the ship's side or bottom; because in the one case the water running in can easily be discovered, and may be stopt from the inside; but in the other, it may run in at the middle of the ship, and oozing fore or aft amongst the timbers may make its appearance in quite a different place. As already mentioned, in vessels built on this solid construction, the shot sticking in the ship would make a plug for its own hole; and the same observation will apply to accidents occasioned by rocks, sands, or other violence that ships meet with, by which leaks are generally occasioned; and wherever a leak may happen to be, the new invented method of stopping leaks can be applied with more certainty of success.
Vessels divided according to this plan, having three, four, five, six or more holds, catching fire in any one of such divisions, have in the first instance the advantage of containing all the water thrown in by pumping, &c. in one hold or division, and can have pipes or leathern hose below the water-line to communicate with the three wells. By applying all those to the place on fire, which can be done instantly, no ship can burn be low the water-line; so that all the water drawn or pumped will be applied to keep the fire from the upper works, rigging, &c.: and by this means the magazine can instantly be drowned, or any part of the ship where combustible matter is, can be filled with water. The crew then have every encouragement to stick by the vessel, and endeavour to extinguish the fire: and if the vessel be in company of other ships, each ship will come as near as possible to that which is in distress, and send boats, men and engines to her assistance. Whereas, according to the present construction of vessels, a man seeing a ship on fire, and knowing that ship to have powder on board, will not approach her for fear of her blowing up, and thereby involving his own ship in her fate. This was the case with his Majesty's ship St. George, the surrounding vessels not daring to render her any effectual assistance, from the apprehension of her magazine exploding; whereby, though every exertion was made to save her crew, numbers of them were either burnt, drowned or blown up.
6. And lastly, that vessels thus constructed will answer as men of war, bombs, fire-ships, floating batteries, gun boats, gun batteaux, and flat-bottomed boats for landing troops.
The advantage of the wells in filling the magazine with water has, in some measure, been already explained, yet it may not here be improper to mention, that a convenience of this kind has long been a favourite idea with, and the earnest wish of the greatest Officers of the Navy. The late ingenious Sir Charles Knowles and Captain Bentinck, with many others, had this object much at heart, but the opposition they met with and other views, prevented either of them from accomplishing what they so much wished. Captain Bentinck had formed plans not only for the magazine but for every store-room in the ship. The great difficulty with him was in placing the cocks; but had Sliding Keels and these wells* been at that time invented, the speedy and easy conveyance of the water would soon have been seen, and there is no doubt would have been applied as has been herein already proposed. Almost every class of vessels having the magazine either fore or aft, the foremost or after-most well might be so connected with it as in time of action to keep every thing damp.
[* The wells here spoken of are the grooves in which the sliding keels move: and by which they are raised up or lowered down. They may have cocks let into them on either side.]
Such Admirals, Captains and Lieutenants as have done the duty of Master's-mate, know the trouble of the duty of the hold, and it is known to few others. In long cruizes or passages it is a desirable object to keep the ship in her best sailing trim; and this greatly depends on filling the empty casks with salt water. This, from the great trouble attending it, is a duty which is generally put off as long as possible; sometimes, indeed, so long, that the ship is by far too light to carry sail; and a gale coming on in this situation occasions much inconvenience. Then every exertion is used to fill up empty casks; but as there is but one cock, and that only suited to fill the lower or middle tier, it takes up much time; and pumping or drawing water in bad weather is commonly found impracticable. But were ships built with Sliding Keels, there would be no danger in having two or three cocks to each well, so that all the water necessary could be had in one hour. Water might also by the same means be let into a cistern wherein the hand-pump stands, and from thence be conveyed to any part of the ship, either to fill the casks or wash the decks; and by such assistance all the decks in the ship would be washed at the same time. Another great convenience might be derived from the wells to men of war victualling for long voyages. In fresh water rivers all the casks in the ship could be filled from them with the greatest ease. Turtle, lobsters, oysters, and other sorts of fish usually kept for any time in well vessels, might in men of war be preserved alive, by means of the wells, without the least inconvenience to the vessel.
The importance it is of that ships should keep their station in the line of battle is well known, both from recent instances, and from the history of sea-fights in times past. As vessels are now constructed, from the difference of their draught of water, and their varying height, some ships are more or less leewardly than others, and therefore do not all keep the line equally well. To obviate this inconvenience the French generally keep a point or two from the wind, the fleet keeping under way and under steerage, which frequently draws them a-head and to leeward, yet still they form a good and well connected line. Great advantage too might be derived from this circumstance in going on expeditions. It often happens that a commander in chief, with a fleet of men of war with troops and stores under his command, brings-to at night to keep his fleet together, on account of some ships being more apt to go to leeward than others. He finds in the morning that they have shifted their situation as to him, and their respective situation with each other. This often produces much inconvenience: it may however be remedied, in a great measure, by the use of Sliding Keels. For should a commander in chief, on seeing a gale coming on bring-to before night, fix on the sail he intends to lay-to under (if possible) all night, order the helm to be put as intended for the night, the yards to be braced, backed or pointed to the wind, the keels to be hove down or up, and the signal to be made for the fleet to take up this drift, it is to be presumed that in the course of the whole night there would not be the difference of three miles in a fleet of a hundred sail or more, unless occasioned by neglect, or through the wind shifting; whereas, according to the present mode of ship-building it seldom happens, even with men of war, that fleets and even the smallest squadrons are not separated by lying-to in long winter nights. This we need not be surprised at when we take notice in the day of the difference between a frigate and a line of battle ship in the act of lying-to. In order more clearly to explain what is here said with respect to keeping ships together when in fleets, and lying-to, or even standing on a wind, it may be added, that by the use of the keels, though a vessel or a number of vessels should be left behind, owing to their not being able to sail as fast as the King's ships, yet they may be prevented from falling to leeward: and, therefore, if in the morning it be found that any ships have fallen astern and are missing, there is a greater certainty of their coming up if waited for; or if a frigate be sent after them, she is surer of finding them. The Trial cutter, in which the experiment has been made, when brought-to, and all her keels up, will drive to leeward, leaving her wake over the weather-beam; but on the keels being hove down, she proportionably lessens her drift and fore-reaches; nay, if the helm be given, and all the keels hove down, she will, from one knot or two, increase her motion to four or five; and so on in proportion, and according to circumstances.
The situations of harbours in consequence of points of land, tides, rocks, shoals, and sands, being as various and as numerous as the harbours themselves, the approach of ships to towns and forts which are to be attacked or bombarded are thereby often rendered both difficult and dangerous. In expeditions of this kind great impediments have been observed to have arisen from the sharpness of vessels, and their great draught of water. The circumstance of drawing much water prevents them from getting near the object of attack, and often occasions, perhaps, the failure of an expedition, from their being obliged to wait for a full tide, which gives the enemy an opportunity of discovering the design, and taking measures accordingly. With regard to the sharpness of vessels, besides the inconvenience of drawing more water, they are subject likewise to another, from the aukward manner in which they take the ground. For supposing a sharp-built vessel to get near enough to the object of attack, and to be left in that situation by the tide, she cannot throw her shells, because she will be lying almost on her broadside. Being thus exposed to the fire of the enemy, without ability to return it, it is more than probable that before the tide return she will be taken, or the water flow into her before she rights. But vessels built flat and solid, as on the plan herein-before recommended, will not be equally liable to these inconveniences; the circumstance of drawing less water will enable them to come nearer the object of attack, remain there longer, and withdraw easier from it; even should such vessels be left by the tide, they might remain during the ebb, doing their duty equally as if afloat.
All the inconveniences now just before pointed out in the case of bombs, from such vessels being sharp built, and having a great draught of water, apply with equal force to fire-ships. But some other advantages may be enumerated as derivable to fire-ships from Sliding Keels, which could be of no use with respect to bombs. Such as when, in certain situations, opportunities occur by placing the keels, and making the sails, that fire-ships may run on a direct point, and do the duty required amongst shipping in a road or harbour, or against a town near the water; and it is to be presumed, that with fire-ships thus constructed it is practicable not only to set fire (if no boom,) to a fleet in a harbour, but at the same time so effectually to destroy the harbour itself, as to prevent the ships that should not be burnt from coming out, or any other ships of the line from going in.
Many of the reasons given in the two last cases against sharp-built vessels, and in favour of those on a flat construction with Sliding Keels, apply to floating batteries, gun boats, gun batteaux and flat-bottomed boats for landing troops. If a floating battery is to be built, it should be constructed suitable to the place and object it is intended for, whether it be to go to sea, or to work up rivers; to run a certain distance before the wind, or be towed by boats to the place where they are to act. In either of these cases a variation in the construction would be required; but the most considerable part of the improvement would be in making separate bulk-heads, which in batteries or boats the more numerous the better. For instance; suppose gun boats are attacking a vessel or fort, or a great number of flat-bottomed boats landing men, if a large shot strike any one of these boats and go through her, the boat must inevitably sink, to the great alarm of the men in the other boats; but if these vessels are built with bulk-heads, the water only can come into one or two places; and unless the shot goes in below the water-line at one end of the boat, she will not sink, nor will the men in the other boats know any more of a shot striking her, than of a man being killed.
Thus much Captain Schank has delivered, respecting the advantages resulting to vessels constructed with Sliding Keels, and applicable to ships in the service of Government; the observations which follow, apply more particularly to trading vessels, and the general improvement of navigation.
1. Vessels thus constructed will answer better as Coasters of all kinds, and for the coal trade. The advantages which Coasters will derive from this construction are many. It is certain that great numbers of them are lost owing to their great draught of water; and it is also well known that their passages are frequently much lengthened, by their being obliged, when the wind is contrary, to run to leeward to get a good harbour or roadstead. In such cases, if they drew a few feet less water, they would go into many harbours, which they are now obliged to pass. But the inconvenience does not rest here, for even when they arrive at the intended port, they are, perhaps, often obliged to wait several days for a spring tide, which, when it comes, a gale of wind probably prevents them from taking advantage of, and getting in: and often the same time may be lost in getting out of the harbour. Besides loss of time, and consequent expences to the owners, great quarrels are sometimes produced through the same causes, betwixt owners, captain and crews. All which would, in a great degree, be prevented, were these vessels of a smaller draught of water. According to the plan herein recommended, vessels of one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty tons, would not draw when loaded above five feet and a half of water at most; and all other vessels in the same proportion. They who are concerned in shipping, and know what water vessels of such burthen at present draw, must see with astonishment the advantage of this construction; which would likewise prove more convenient, as such vessels would not require a pier to lie to, and are capable of being moored in any part of a harbour; and if the ground admit of it, carts, &c. might come alongside, and load or unload them, which also would save a great expence.
2. Vessels built on this construction would answer in canals; where the canal is above four or five feet deep. Let us suppose the Duke of Bridgewater's canals, and all others now made, or to be made in the kingdom, to be equal to the depth of the Scotch canal betwixt Glasgow and Carron, the locks to be from sixty to seventy feet long or more, and from twenty to twenty-six or more wide; in such a case, all the trade from any part of the inland country adjoining to the canals could load at any public place, town or village, where a manufactory was carried on; and proceed to the most distant parts of the known world without the assistance of any other craft. This idea is submitted to the consideration of all those who are concerned in such public undertakings.
3. Vessels thus constructed would be exceedingly convenient to carry corn or mixed cargoes, part of which it is required to keep separate. This is certainly a great convenience when it can be obtained without lessening the tonnage, and bulk-heads will serve to separate the cargo, let it be as opposite as iron and gunpowder. The bulkheads answer as separate apartments, or like shifting boards, either for corn, salt, &c. There is, perhaps, nothing except masts, which such a vessel will not answer for better than any other.
4. Vessels built with Sliding Keels have the advantage of all others in case of losing the rudder. Although what has been said respecting the effect of the fore and after Keel, and the main or middle Keel, are sufficient to prove that vessels with three Sliding Keels can, in case of losing the rudder, be instantly steered with the Keels either on a tack, or working to windward; yet as experiments have been made, and the efficacy of the Keels sufficiently ascertained, it will be necessary to refer to the certificate made by Lieutenant Malbon of the Trial Cutter and his Officers, to the Lords of the Admiralty [see Appendix, No. 1.]; in addition to which, says Captain Schank, I can offer the testimony of the ingenious James Templer, Esq. of Stove in the county of Devon, who sailed several leagues in the same vessel, only using the Keels [see Appendix, No. 4.] "I myself, (he further adds) on many occasions, in the presence of Sea Officers of different ranks, steered and worked that vessel in every manner possible, with the Keels only: but a still more flattering and more honourable proof remains, as this experiment was made in presence of HIS MAJESTY at Weymouth, who was pleased to condescend so far as to examine the construction of the Cutter, and to order her to sail in company with him, when signals were settled, by which she was to steer and work to windward, with the Keels only; which was done, and His Majesty signified his most gracious approbation."
5. Vessels on this construction will last longer than those built according to the present mode. Long experience has discovered that nothing destroys timber so much as being sometimes wet, at other times dry; sometimes being exposed to the air, and at other times air excluded from it. This is not the case with ships built according to the construction which has been herein often, but it is hoped not inconsiderately, recommended. It is generally known that the bottom of a ship seldom rots in less than fifty or sixty years; and some last even longer, though the upper works decay much sooner. This may be imputed to the distance the timbers are from each other, or to the circumstance of the ceiling not being caulked, which defects admit of a quick succession of different sorts of air, heat and cold, wetness and dryness: but according to the plan of making the ship more solid, these would, in a great measure, be excluded, and ships would last at least one-third longer, if not double the time they do at present.
VIEW of the LADY NELSON in the THAMES.
ON the 13th of January, 1800, the Lady Nelson hauled out of Deadman's Dock into the River, having her complement of men, stores, and provisions on board, with every requisite for building and equipping another vessel of the same size, wood excepted, which could be got in New South Wales; or, in case of shipwreck, where it could be found. The provisions were calculated for fifteen men for nine months, and the water for six months. The former were of the best kinds; and, in addition to which, we were supplied with abundance of antiscorbutics.
We arrived at Gravesend on the 16th following. In going down the River, I had the satisfaction of observing that she worked well; though, like all new things, we had but few who saw us pass, that did not say something against so small a vessel destined for a long voyage. The general appellation we got was that of his Majesty's Tinder-box.
On the 17th the crew were paid their river pay, and to those who could find bondsmen two months in advance. Government was very liberal to the men employed in the Lady Nelson.
We arrived in the Downs on the 20th. In going down the River, owing to the thick foggy weather, we got too near the Brake, and were warned of it by the after-keel lifting up, which which we avoided running aground. We anchored in the Downs in five fathoms water, the South Foreland bearing S.W. by S. half S. and Sandown Castle N.N.W. It blew strong, and, from the appearance of the weather, I had every reason to believe that the gale would increase, which it did on the making of the flood: before dark we got every thing snug, and gave the vessel a greater scope of cable: the keels were found of great use in steadying her, and preventing her rigging from straining. At this time there was a very large convoy for the Westward lying in the Downs, which had been detained nearly a month with westerly winds. On the evening of the 23d the wind from the S.S.W. came on with the flood, and blew very hard, with a heavy sea. At eleven o'clock at night many signals of distress were made in the offing, and several ships drove past us. Finding the Lady Nelson drive, we let go another anchor, which presently brought us up, and enabled us to ride out the gale with ease. The following morning six vessels were on shore, dismasted; and in the Offing two more without either masts or bowsprits. This circumstance, though very unfortunate for other vessels, was, I confess, very pleasing to me, as it must of course satisfy my crew of the good qualities of the vessel in which they had to perform so long a voyage: more especially as their minds were, in some degree, prejudiced against her from the many unfavourable reports in circulation with respect to the impossibility of her performing the voyage. As the day advanced the gale ceased; and towards evening it blew a steady breeze from the W. On the 26th it again freshened into a gale, and blew very hard from W. by S. but with the former precautions we rode it out, affording me the satisfaction of finding, that my little vessel was easy when at anchor, and perfectly dry. The wind still continuing steady in the S.W. quarter, I judged it most prudent to shelter my charge as much as possible; particularly, as many vessels had gone into Ramsgate Harbour. Having obtained leave for that purpose, and being provided with a pilot, we run into that harbour; where I was detained by the same wind till the 7th of February, when it hauled to the northward. I sailed on the evening of that day, and got to Spithead the following. The Lady Nelson, on this occasion, outsailed all vessels of her size going the same way.
On the 9th we went into Portsmouth Harbour, and brought up off Gosport, in order to wait for a convoy to the Westward, and to have some alterations made on our boats, &c. As we had only two brass carriage guns on board, we were supplied with four more, from three to four pounders. With small arms and ammunition we were well furnished: our provisions and stores were also completed; and some oak plank was taken on board to repair the sliding keels in case of accident. The vessel by these means became very deep in the water, insomuch that we had only two feet nine inches clear abreast the gangway. Many people who saw the Lady Nelson reckoned her unfit for so long a voyage, which gave me much trouble to keep the crew together, particularly as the day of departure approached. The men became very dissatisfied; and how to replace some that escaped from me was a difficult business, as the crimps, who procured men for the East India fleet, and other ships about to sail, picked up every man they could get hold of. They were very assiduous in seducing some young men I had, whose minds were easily worked upon by representing the impracticability and risk of my undertaking.
On the 15th of March, my friend Captain Schank, accompanied by Mr. Bayley, of the Royal Academy, Portsmouth, paid me a visit. They observed, that the vessel was deep though she had nothing but what was absolutely necessary. I answered, that a short time at sea, with the consumption of fuel and provisions, would bring us to the proper equilibrium.
On the 16th in the evening we had every thing clear for sea. In the course of this week I had suffered a diminution of two men in my crew; one I had been obliged to send ashore sick, the other deserted, taking with him some of my wearing apparel. The wind in the night becoming fair, at day-break on the 17th the signal for the convoy's sailing was made by the Anson, Captain Durham. We unmoored, and got a pilot on board by order of Captain Patten, the resident Agent of Transports at Portsmouth, whose attention and assiduity to me, while in his department, I feel myself happy in thus publicly acknowledging, as deserving my most grateful thanks. While getting the kedge up, my carpenter, who was assisting in it, and had been drinking too freely to (St. Patrick) his tutelary saint, found means to make his escape in the dark. The loss of this man made me more uneasy than any other three of the crew would have done. Being anxious to sail, I was reluctantly obliged to put up with my loss. One thing consoled me, and induced me to sail without a carpenter, which was, the strength of the Lady Nelson: she was new; and I knew her to be a good sea-boat. As I had passports to all the Powers then at war with my Sovereign, I determined, if any accident should happen, to run into the nearest port, and claim protection and assistance; but nothing but dire necessity would induce me to attempt this. By eleven A.M. we got clear out from St. Helen's, and received Captain Durham's orders for keeping company. At noon we had a fresh breeze from N. At six P.M. on the 18th, we took our departure from Dunnose, in the Isle of Wight, bearing E. by N. five leagues distant. As the weather was thick and hazy, we soon lost sight of land and bid adieu to Old England. Towards night it fell little wind, so that some of the Indiamen slipped faster through the water than we did.
On the 19th the Commodore sent an officer on board to say, that he thought I had better go into Falmouth, and take an opportunity of sailing from thence with the West India fleet, as I sailed too heavy for the East Indiamen. It being left to myself, I preferred going on, as if it did not blow too heavy I should be able to keep up.
On the 20th it blowing very fresh, and a considerable swell, I found that the fleet got from us. As the wind increased, and the sea made, we were obliged to take in our small sails, while the large ships could set their steering sails, which had nearly as much canvas in them, as we could shew altogether. This is a convincing proof, that in going free large vessels in rough weather have a great advantage over small ones, especially when they are not deep in the water; as they can carry more sail, (even admitting it to be the same sail), in proportion.
A vessel when low in the water has her progress much impeded by being forced downwards between two seas, and this will be found to operate more powerfully on short bodies than long ones. The Brunswick East Indiaman, commanded by Captain Grant, in the afternoon hailed me with the Commodore's orders to take the Lady Nelson in tow. This was a business which I did not relish; but it also required some consideration how far my conduct would be justifiable in refusing it. From the observation made at noon, we were in Lat. 49° 3' N. the first we had made since leaving the land; and judged the Long. to be 9° 47' 26" W. of Greenwich; therefore we were exactly in the track of the enemy's cruizers. As I had more reason to dread detention (the season being so far advanced, and the inconveniences attending a winter passage to the Cape considered) than any doubt of the faith and honour of the maritime Powers then at war, breaking through the liberty granted in my passports; particularly knowing, that if separated from my charge many articles, from various casualties, might be lost or damaged, of which the mathematical instruments were not the least to be considered. Besides, if the vessel towed well, I knew she could not receive any damage, and we should be the sooner out of the enemy's track. As I had neither a carpenter, nor any mechanic on board, this was another reason for my acquiescing to the proposal. Captain Grant assured me we should have free scope; we therefore got the end of his hawser on board, and soon found that the vessel towed very well.
During the time we had been out the weather was very indifferent, being gloomy, with more or less rain, which prevented me from making many necessary arrangements. I had also observed that there were several small leaks in the decks, and upper works, which greatly annoyed us, owing to the slovenliness and inattention of the workmen employed in fitting her out, although the most positive directions were given to the contrary. The water found its way in many places under the covering boards, and along the gunwale, insomuch that I was deprived of the use of one of the bed-places in the cabin; and also to the detriment of many articles fastened up against the side, which were necessary to be kept at hand. The vessel being rigged also into a brig from a cutter, the pumps were removed further aft, and not being well finished, admitted much water, until the weather permitted us to stop the leaks.
On the 21st the wind freshened with thick gloomy weather, which we had reason to expect from its being the equinox; and the sea, from the long and steady wind at E.N.E. became rough and more uneasy; yet the vessel rose well to it, but being in tow, it was impossible at all times to prevent her from being dragged through some of the seas. This afforded some amusement to the passengers on board the Brunswick, who visited the stern gallery of it to see the little vessel in tow.
Nothing particular occurred till the 23d, when the wind had increased so much, that being forced into several heavy seas by the Brunswick, it evidently appeared to me that the vessel might be strained too much; and as night was coming on, with great appearance of blowing hard, I ordered the hawser to be let go at five P.M. wishing my namesake a pleasant passage. I have since been informed, that it was generally supposed I intended to return to Spithead, as deeming it impracticable to go on. At seven P.M. the gale increased at E. and E. by S. when we made the vessel snug for the night, during which she was very comfortable, and rose well to the sea. Day-light brought us more moderate weather, and at noon we had a good observation, which gave us Lat. 43° 55" [sic] N. Long. 14° 17' W. We lost sight of the fleet during the night. As this was the first day we had any clear weather since we came out, I ordered all the bedding on deck, and spread them out to air, together with the seamen's clothes, which custom I constantly followed when the weather permitted, and to which I attribute the great health my men experienced during the voyage, who were landed at Sydney in New South Wales in the same state as when they embarked. It is true, that on board of all his Majesty's ships the hammocks are brought up every fine day, and stowed into the nettings, yet the benefit of dispersing contagion cannot be procured while close packed up, so well as by exposing the different articles to the air and sun. Infectious matter it is well known may be preserved in the flocks with which the bed-ticks are filled: how necessary then is it that the hammocks should be opened, particularly in warm climates, where the perspiration is augmented? This mode ought constantly to be followed. Besides, another advantage accrues from it; the lazy and dirty seamen are spirited on, by the example of those who are otherwise, to keep their bedding and clothes in decent order; as the whole is under the view of their officers.
We took the opportunity of stopping several leaks in the upper works; and found in many places about the covering board or plank, sheer putty substituted for oakum.
On the 25th P.M. we had fresh gales and cloudy weather. At three P.M. a strange sail was in sight. On going to the mast-head a large fleet was seen bearing N.N.E. and the strange sail apparently in chace, and gaining fast on us. Every sail was set, and the vessel on the best point of sailing; we had only to wait the issue. As she neared us, I perceived she was an English frigate. At six P.M. she fired a shot at us, when we shortened sail, and shewed our colours; but another shot convinced me she took us for an enemy's cruizer. We then wore, and stood towards her. It proved to be his Majesty's frigate Hussar, Captain————, as part convoy to the West India fleet which we had seen from the mast-head. Captain———— told me he had taken us for a Spaniard, and was sorry he had given us so much trouble. He said his Longitude was from 13° 30' to 14° W. which was within a very few miles of our own. After the usual compliments we parted. At eight P.M. it came on to blow very fresh with heavy squalls, and at midnight it blew very strong from almost every point of the compass for twelve hours.
At day-light on the 26th, we were close to part of the West India fleet, some of which not knowing what to make of us, crowded all the sail they could to get out of our way. One of them, much to his credit, hove to and fired a shot, almost plump on board of us. After hoisting his colours, I shewed him ours, when he stood on. Another vessel, the Hope of Liverpool, I could hardly keep clear of; for the more I endeavoured to avoid him, the more he attempted to get near me, insomuch that we were near running on board each other. He asked me very haughtily who I was, and where I came from, I replied by hoisting my pendant and colours, nevertheless, he was not satisfied; and as he had no force, I believe he intended, if he could, to have run me down. There was at this time much sea going, but I found the Lady Nelson do wonderfully well in it. The convoy stood to the westward under close-reefed topsails. As it continued to blow hard, with heavy squalls and rough sea, I had an opportunity of trying the vessel, which I did by carrying sail upon her, and never had less than two reefs in her mainsail, and the topsails close reefed. The mercury this day stood on deck at 65°. Lat. observation at noon, 39° 59' N.
On the 27th it was more moderate; but dark, gloomy and uncomfortable weather, with drizzling rain.
The wind being from the S.W. and continuing freshening, at six P.M. of the 28th we had so much sea that I hove the vessel to for the night, when I found her perfectly easy and dry.
At day-light on the 29th it became more moderate, and the wind hauled to the N. We bore up and made sail. I now found the great benefit of the keels in facilitating the vessel's coming to, and bearing up; for the most dangerous situation a vessel can be put in, is when she has got no way on her, and in the act of wearing or being put before the sea, where her beam is entirely exposed to an high breaking sea. It is often in this situation that deep loaded merchant ships have their decks cleared of all that is on them; and sometimes are dismasted. If proper attention is paid to the keels, it is only to watch one sea passing, and before the next gets up to you, the vessel will be far enough round to receive it endways, or at least considerably abaft the beam. Of this I am the more convinced, from much experience I have repeatedly had, in a very heavy sea, while in the Lady Nelson; and that in the tract of ocean, when some thousand miles from any known land, where there was no continent to interrupt the fetch of the sea, and but little wind to assist me in throwing off the vessel before it. It often happens in the southern hemisphere, after blowing very heavy for some considerable length of time, that it will fall nearly calm in the course of an hour, or even less, when the sea being raised to a great height it has not time to fall, but for some short time will continue to rise and break much. There not being wind sufficient to keep a vessel to, she becomes much exposed in the trough or hollow of the sea, which makes it absolutely necessary to bear up, and put her before it. In this case the benefit of being quick in getting the vessel round is obvious to all seamen; and it is now an undoubted fact, that nothing will facilitate her coming round so much as sliding keels, as by the use of the after-keel she is not only brought before the sea, but kept in that situation. They who do not approve of vessels built on this construction, will, however, admit that they have an advantage in this point over other vessels, which are to be thrown off, or brought to by their sails and rudders.
On the 29th we had moderate breezes with flying showers—overhauled all the places that leaked in the top-sides of the vessel, and found several in the sail-room about the breast-hook, which bad not left a single sail but what was more or less damaged, and which took up much time and expense in repairing. This was a misfortune that I had no reason to expect, and therefore gave me much uneasiness.
The weather at noon on the 30th cleared up, and brought us fair weather; I seized the opportunity, and got all the bedding, clothes, and damaged sails, on deck to air.
On the 31st we had again drizzling damp weather, and as the wind was at N.E. and N. I expected to see Madeira soon; but in the evening it came on to blow from N.E. by N. and N. so heavy, that by midnight it blew a very heavy gale, and from the length of time we had had it in this quarter, and generally blowing strong, it may be judged what sea there was.
At one in the morning of the 1st of April we fell into a cross heavy sea. When the vessel was hove to, as it blew so hard, we got the fore-topsail-yard down on the deck, which I found of great service, as it allowed the vessel to come up much higher, nor did she fall off so much. The wind in general was at N.E. and never varied above a point either way. Before the fore-topsail-yard was lowered, the vessel had come up to N. and fell off to N.N.W. Sometimes a sea would throw her off to N.W. by N. When it was got down, she came up and hung long at N. by E. and never fell off farther than N.N.W. and excepting when the cross sea used to throw the spray on board, the weather side of the deck was constantly dry.
The gale continued till the 3d, when it began to moderate, and finding the sea get down at five P.M. I bore up. During the gale we had drifted to the south of Madeira, where I expected to have fallen in with the Anson and convoy; but the wind still being fair I wished to make the most of it.
At half past three on the 5th, saw the Salvages bearing W. by S. distant six or seven leagues. At eight passed them within three leagues. Shaped a course for Palma, one of the Canary Islands; which, at half past four, P.M. I saw bearing W.S.W. fourteen or fifteen leagues. We now crowded all the sail we could in order to get past these islands in the night, keeping to the West of them. I found the variation by the sun's azimuth to be its rising 14° 22 W. Island of Palma then bearing E. by S. distant forty miles by reckoning, thermometer on deck at noon 75°. We had now got into a strong N.E. trade wind, which I found tended to split most of our spare spars and masts, and I ordered them to be payed with turpentine. The bedding, &c. was brought on deck to air; we also cleaned and washed below.
On the 6th we had a strong breeze from S. by E. to S.E. by E. which does not agree with the accounts of winds that generally prevail in this country, accompanied by a very cross ribbling sea, which made the vessel very uneasy. I cannot account for this in any other way, than that it is occasioned by a current setting from between the islands, for as we got past them I found the sea decrease gradually. Observation at noon in the Lat. of 27° 3' N.
The weather became moderate and fair on the 7th; at noon the thermometer on deck was at 79°.
On the 8th we crossed the Tropic of Cancer. We had now many flying fish round; which, on account of the lowness of the vessel used frequently to come on board in great numbers, affording us many a delicious meal.
On the 11th we were employed in repairing the damaged sails, and airing the bedding. Served out sugar and lime-juice to the men. Saw a tropic bird. At noon found ourselves in Lat. 16° 46' N.
At half past one P.M. of the 12th, saw the Island of Salt, one of the Cape de Verds, bearing W. seventeen or eighteen miles. Hauled close round the S.E. end of it, and run along the S. side in order to look for an harbour, which is said to be near a small island on that side; but not finding so convenient accommodation as I expected, at half past six P.M. we shaped a course for St. Jago.
As there are many different descriptions of the appearance of the Island of Salt, it appeared to me as follows:—Having made it at the time I expected by my reckoning, I was surprized to find that it corresponded with the description of Bonavista, very nearly as given in the East India Directory, which says, "Salt is an island of high bold land with a peak on it;" and that, "Bonavista is irregular and sandy down to the water's edge. The S.E. point of Bonavista is a low spit of land, whose extent is not perceived till you come up with it." This so exactly corresponds with the S.E. end of Salt, that until I had rounded this end of the island, and made the small one as laid down, I was rather in doubt which of the two islands it was. The land of Salt at the N.W. end appears high and irregular; it hath also sand and valleys down to the water's edge on both the E. and W. side; but it is most remarkable in being a long narrow island, the S.E. end running out in a long sandy spit, which being very low and flat, you do not distinguish it from the high land, until you are close in with it. The spit is at least three or four miles in length from the land, and on the N. side has a reef and breakers on it in several places about a mile from the shore. The land from the N.W. appears pretty regular, excepting here and there it is jagged and broken towards the S.E. end. There appear three mountains in Salt, two near the N.W. end, and the other abreast of the small island on the W. side. Salt lies nearly N.N.W. and E.S.E. and is so narrow that when you get on the W. side, as far up as the small island, you may easily see the land you have left on the opposite side. This is not the case with Bonavista, as that island is much broader. There is no land that I could observe on Salt that deserves the name of a Peak: its being jagged towards the low sandy point on the S.E. end, and the steep land falling progressively in steps below each other, may have given rise to the idea of the uppermost being a peak, which is, in fact, no more than the sharp corner of a table land.
Having before observed that we bore up at six P.M. for St. Jago, at eleven we saw it, and continued our course for Port Praya, intending there to refresh and fill up our water. After rounding the S.E. point of St. Jago, (which is laid down to be no more than six or seven miles to Port Praya, but it is nearer ten) there is a small bay to the E. about four miles, called by the inhabitants after St. Francis. This bay is particularly mentioned in the East India Directory as being very apt to mislead strangers, and, from the appearance of it from the sea, not without reason. Port Praya bay is known by the cocoa-nut trees, which are very conspicuous at the bottom of it, and a small house. St. Francis's bay has also cocoa-nut trees. The distance which the former bay is from the S.E. end of the island corresponds better with that of St. Francis than Port Praya, which, with its likeness to it, did not surprize me that strangers should be deceived. My second mate having been in Port Praya some months previous to his embarking with me, I was persuaded by him that the Bay of St. Francis was it; and dreading the loss of time it would occasion if I went past it, as I did not mean to touch at the Brazils, I therefore ventured into this dangerous place, taking care to anchor the vessel in a weatherly situation in case of accidents. I instantly went on shore with this man, who still thought he was right; but on landing he found, to his confusion, he was wrong. I returned immediately on board and got out of this bay. The Bay of St. Francis may be always known by its having at the back of it, and nearly close down to the water's edge, an high flat-topt table land standing between two mountains, which cannot be mistaken. Port Praya has at the bottom of it, besides the house already mentioned, a long low valley running inland to a considerable extent, the mountains behind which are sharp and peaked. Near the landing place there are two remarkable forts on the E. side, which you must open before you come to anchor; and on the W. side is Quail Island, which is easily seen as you enter. But the surest mark is that from the S.E. end of the Island of St. Jago, the shore is low and rocky in general, until you reach the Bay of St. Francis; from thence to Port Praya the shore is high clayey cliffs, which round into the harbour forming the E. side of it. Port Praya is well known to be very extensive, and capable of containing a numerous fleet of ships. The soundings I found corresponded with those laid down in the East India Directory.
On Sunday the 13th I came to an anchor, and saluted the fort with seven guns, which was immediately returned. I had performed this first part of my voyage in twenty-six days from Portsmouth, nearly four of which I had lain to. The Governor Antonio Marcelino de Basto received me very politely, and offered me every assistance in his power, that I might stand in need of.
Much cannot be said of the town, nor the manner the Governor is lodged. Nature has done much for its defence, and since the commencement of this war the Governor has built two forts, one of fourteen, the other of eleven guns. They are both inclosed with a wall kept in good order, and white washed, which make a pleasing appearance. There are also several redoubts with guns mounted in them, but in a very ruinous state. The inhabitants are chiefly black, a few officers about the Governor excepted. The troops appeared to be natives of the island, black, and poorly clothed. From the height that the forts and town stand on, a tolerable defence towards the sea might be made; but if an enemy was landed the island would instantly fall; particularly as it has few internal resources, and even water is brought from a well in the valley at the back of the town (the only place they get water from in the dry season,) which could be cut off.
The seasons are divided into wet and dry, like all other places between the tropics. At this time the ground was parched up, exhibiting a barren waste, scattered with pumice stones and other volcanic matter. What had the appearance of grass was dry and dirty. Vegetation there was none. Nevertheless the inhabitants seemed to enjoy the few comforts with apparent happiness.
It has been before remarked, that the trade wind had caused several of our spare masts and spars to split, and that I had payed them with turpentine; yet this mode did not entirely prevent it. I observed that some which were painted escaped with very little damage.
On the 14th all hands were employed in filling water, and refitting. Several places where the vessel leaked were found out and caulked. At this time I discovered that the seeds of disaffection had been industriously sown by my second mate amongst the crew; insomuch, that one half of the men would not speak to the other. To remedy this, I delivered the offender to the Governor to be put on board the first British vessel that arrived. In such a small vessel as mine, and employed in a business which required unanimity and good humour, the only step was to get rid of such a man. He had, however, gained his point with some of the younger part of the crew, for on the night of the 23d, two lads set off with one of my boats; and although it was much less than a Thames skiff, and the weather rainy with thunder and lightening, they put to sea with an hammock for a sail, taking with them some biscuit, water, and a tomahawk. As soon as I was informed of it, I went on shore to take the necessary steps to recover them. To effect this the Governor shewed much attention, by sending out parties of men in every direction. He observed, that in such a time they would be discovered if they had landed on the island; and the boat would facilitate that, as they could not carry it with them. I was more concerned for the loss of it than the men. The following day the culprits were brought into town, by a party of the natives, both riding on one ass, which had a more ignominious effect than any punishment I could inflict, they being exposed to the ridicule of the inhabitants, and the Portuguese seamen belonging to vessels then there. When they arrived I was informed of it, and that the boat was safe about seven miles from the vessel, from whence I sent for it. Having used the means to prevent the like desertion in future, together with the principal being removed, I found a total change amongst the men, who became more united, living friendly and happily together.
During my stay at St. Jago I made several excursions into the interior, which did not materially differ from the vicinity of Port Praya. From the quantity of volcanic matter strewed over the ground, and peaked form of the mountains, there is every reason to suppose that it has been subject to eruptions.
There are not many birds on the island; and of these only a few varieties. What I saw were chiefly bustards, some of the vulture kind, a species of small hawk, king-fishers, Guinea birds and domestic fowls. I travelled above twenty miles inland one day to procure some Guinea fowls, and although we saw several covies, (in order to get near which we crept on our hands and knees) yet they were so cunning and alert, as not to permit us to get nearer to them than within a couple of gunshots. Like grouse they plant an advanced centinel, who, on the approach of danger, makes a cackling sort of noise to give the covey feeding at a distance time to start. My guide informed me that the best time to shoot them, is when they come to drink; and as in the dry season such places are very few in number, they are seen there in great plenty. To one of these places, about seven miles from the town, we went. It was a small dirty puddle, yet it was the first drop of water I had met with since leaving the well near Port Praya. We hid ourselves in an hole of the cliff by the side of the spring, but after waiting above an hour, I concluded he was deceiving me in hopes of getting the reward I had promised. While remaining at the place I observed numbers of cattle and goats come to drink, without any person to drive them, or being even marked; from which I concluded they were wild cattle. Seeing us they would not approach, but hastened off. On enquiring of my guide whether they were wild, I could not make him understand me; and on my return to Port Praya, I put the same question to several people who understood a little English, and could answer most questions I put to them, but, to my surprize, they pretended ignorance. I therefore conjectured this to be a subject on which they wished, or were desired to be silent; my reasons for this conjecture will appear hereafter.
Finding little chance of seeing any Guinea fowls, I expressed my great disappointment to my guide, who then informed me that there was a place at a considerable distance farther, where we might be certain of meeting with them, observing at the same time that they seldom came to drink, except very early in the morning, or late in the evening. Being anxious to become better acquainted with the country, I determined on proceeding thither. We passed several little farms inhabited by the natives, who resemble African negroes. These farms are mostly situated in the valleys, and appear to have great labour bestowed on them. The houses are mere cabins, exhibiting much misery; yet wretched as they appeared, the women, on our entering any of them, received us with kindness, offering us milk. The men, we were told, were at work in the fields. The females were all busily employed in spinning cotton, which they did with great dexterity from a distaff with a spindle, whitening every now and then the forefinger and thumb through which the thread passed with a powder like chalk, though I had not yet seen any chalk or lime in any part of the country I had passed through. Some were employed in weaving a kind of cloth, peculiar to the island, on small hand-looms. From the information of these people we again set off in search of the Guinea fowls, but were told that it was more than probable we should not see any till the following morning. On reaching a small stream in a valley we took post till our patience was exhausted. Leaving that situation we reached another noted place, and were fortunate enough to spring a covey of near thirty, which led us a chace of several miles without being able to get within shot of them. Finding that we were going farther inland than my time would admit of, I abandoned the pursuit, and returned to the first huts already mentioned, where the hospitable people gave us some eggs, and a sort of macaroni which they used as bread; this with milk and some biscuit we had with us, enabled us to make a comfortable meal. While thus employed several of the men came home from work. They are in general more robust and strong than the Portuguese: as they have woolly hair and flat noses their origin may be easily traced. They are zealous Catholics; every cabin we entered had a crucifix placed in some conspicuous situation. After experiencing the hospitality of these people, which, from the account of some voyagers, I was led not to expect, we returned heartily tired to Port Praya; the day, moreover, had been uncommonly sultry. Walking in this island is attended with many disagreeable sensations, particularly from the sulphureous effluvia arising from the earth.
Salt is the principal article of trade of the Cape de Verd Islands; but it does not appear that it is plenty in St. Jago. In what I saw produced in the latter, sulphur and metallic substances seemed to predominate. The governor first pointed out to me that after rain had fallen, the saline particles on the tops of the mountains appeared like dross of bright copper: there not being any rain while I staid on the island, I had not an opportunity of seeing this. The same gentleman shewed me some saltpetre he had found on the island, the discovery of which, and the national benefit resulting therefrom, he was very sanguine in. We tried it; and although not so strong as what I had on board, yet there is little doubt but it may turn out of some advantage.
I have already mentioned the females spinning cotton, the trees producing which are of an uncommon size. Two of them near Port Praya are generally visited by strangers: one of them measured in the girt twelve yards three quarters. On the bark of it I observed engraved the names of several British naval officers, and the ships they belonged to. Among others the Lion, with Lord Macartney's, Sir Erasmus Gower's, and the names of the different officers. These trees were the only thing curious that the Governor pointed out to me.
Of wild animals, except the cattle already mentioned, I saw none but monkeys and cats.
Fish are plenty in the Bay, and sometimes turtle are caught; but unless by those who have been in Europe, the latter are not eaten. In hauling the seine of the Lady Nelson we caught a very fine green turtle, of one hundred and fifty weight. The natives who were on the beach at the time said it was not good to eat.
Having got all my water casks filled, and the rigging put in good order, I wished to know the state of my keels. On raising the after one I found it broken short off in the wake of a bolt, which bolt, being in the nip of the bottom of the vessel, was nearly bent double, and, no doubt, happened in the heavy weather already mentioned: but here it became of the greatest consequence to me to repair the broken keel. In the accomplishment of this I had a very laborious job, as I had not a carpenter on board. However, with the assistance of one of my crew, I finished it in two days; and the Governor very politely offered me all the help in his power.
Previous to sailing I purchased a bullock, weighing two hundred and seventy-five pounds. On paying for it I had an opportunity of finding out the reason of the inhabitants being so unwilling to answer my questions. When I deposited the money I was surprised to see nearly one half of it sent to the Governor. On asking the reason of this, I was told it was a duty to the Crown. I am of opinion, all the herds I saw without keepers or marks are the property of the sovereign, and the individuals who catch and kill them are paid a certain proportion for their trouble, and any damage their lands may suffer by these wild cattle. Besides, it may be prudent to conceal whether they are wild or not, to prevent strangers killing them; by which means both the crown and individuals would lose the purchase money. This is not the case with their hogs; a small duty only I believe goes to the government for these.
On the 27th of April we bid adieu to St. Jago. With permission of the Governor, I entered on the vessel's books two young men, making up the crew to twelve in all. On getting clear of the islands I found a strong current setting to the south, which differed our latitude, by observation, thirty miles more to the south than our distance would give. I at first suspected some fault in the log-line or glasses, but on trial found them correct. The thermometer now in general stood at 86° and 87°. Several of the ship's company began to complain of bilious disorders.
On the 1st of May we had an observation at noon in lat. 7° 59' N. long. 21° 48' W. by lunar observation. One of the men was seized with violent spasms in the bowels, attended with a considerable degree of fever; but by the exhibition of an emetic, fomentations, opening medicines and opiates, I cured him in four days. To prevent infection I made up a bed for him under an awning on deck: the thermometer was up to 94°. at this time. All the bedding, clothes, and the cabins the men slept in were washed, thoroughly cleansed, and a wind-sail put down. This, with the attention I paid to the men's messing, kept them in perfect health. As I supposed oatmeal, which is generally used for breakfast on board his Majesty's ships, was of too heating a quality; (and which joined to the salt provisions at dinner-time creates a considerable degree of thirst,) to obviate this, I recommended to the men the use of tea. The good effects of this change were soon visible, for they hardly or ever drank any water in the forenoons. In lieu of spirits I issued wine, reserving the former for a colder climate. Having a quantity of essence of spruce on board, I brewed a good wholesome beer from it, which I also gave the men. The generality of the crew were young lads who had never crossed the tropics before; but by pursuing these means not one of them sickened afterwards. The adoption of such a regulation might, perhaps, prove of infinite service in warm climates; and in case of a scarcity of water, the saving would be considerable.*
[* I am happy to find this mode is adopted on board of East Indiamen.]
We now began to find various currents as we approached the line, with heavy squalls and rain at times.
On Sunday the 4th the wind shifted to the S.W. and blew hard till the 6th, when it fell perfectly calm; previous to which it had been for some time N. and N.E. and stiffing suddenly to the S.W. and S.S.W. caused a very turbulent sea. The succeeding calm made our little vessel tumble and toss to so uncommon a degree, that hardly any of us could stand on the deck or sleep below; and almost every one was sea-sick. During all this she never shipped any water, nor did she strain or chafe her rigging. In the recollection of us all never had so disagreeable a sea occurred. Our observation this day, the 6th, was lat. 3° 6' N. long. 20° 57' W.
On the 7th we had light winds. Numbers of porpoises were seen: we caught one which measured seven feet and a half: we procured above a gallon and a half of oil from it for our binnacle. We found the current here S.W. by S. nearly at the rate of half a knot an hour. I tried it several times this day. This accounts for our latitude, by observation for some days, exceeding our distance run. The East Indian Directory informs us of the currents in or near these latitudes setting to the S. and W. but no rate is mentioned. My observation may be of use, perhaps to future navigators. The weather was now very sultry; the mercury from 94° to 92°.
On the 8th the difference of latitude exceeded the distance run twenty miles.
At six A.M. of the 9th we saw a schooner, and soon after a brig in the S.W. quarter; the latter standing towards us. At seven there came on a very heavy squall, which I made the best use of to avoid the brig, not wishing to run the risk of being detained or examined, should she be an enemy. The wind was at E. by S. attended with heavy rain. It cleared up at eleven A.M. the strange vessels not in sight. We had a good observation at noon, lat. 0° 53' N. long. by account, 20° 16' W. thermometer 86°.
On the 10th we had light winds. At sun-rise the variation was from several sights, per azimuth, 13° 48' W. We had gained sight of the brig. At noon, lat. 0° 9' N. I judged this to be the last day we should be in north latitude. Fish of various kinds were in plenty round us: many flying fish lighted on the deck during the night. We caught some bonetta, about fourteen pounds weight each. Birds answering the description given by Captain Cook, in the run from St. Jago to the Cape of Good Hope, were also seen in great numbers. The wind began to freshen gradually at S. by E. to S.S.E.
A ship and a sloop were seen on the 13th standing to the W. Found per sun's amplitude at setting, variation to be 13° 11' W.
On the 14th, light winds at S.S.E. found, by several sights, the variation to be 13° 8' W. Saw several Pintado birds, and a black bird, called by sailors, haglet. Wind freshened into strong breezes from S.E. to S.S.E.
On the 16th, we had light weather, but a long heavy swell. At night much phosphoric matter about us in the water. If the hands are dipt into it, the substance is observed on them, but after being exposed to the air it goes off: it is of a glutinous nature. The ocean surrounding the coast of Africa seems particularly impregnated with this luminous appearance. In heavy dark rainy weather it is not observable, but by moon or star light it is.
We had an observation on the 17th at noon, which gave us lat. 8° 11' S. and long. 27° 28' W. The wind in general at S.E. and S.E. by S. I followed the directions of Monsieur D'Apres, and the observations of Captain Cook, keeping a good point free, as I thereby expected to get the sooner to the S. and clear of the S.E. trade-wind, having crossed the Equator in the long. 20° 30' W. by this means we did not see any part of the Coast of Brazil. It may be proper to remark, that we found a current drifting us farther to the W. than we had any reason to expect, and that the vessel's head was never farther to the W. than S.W. by S. and sometimes S.W. by S. ½S. which with 13° W. variation ought to have given us with a S.W. by S. course, by compass, a S.S.W. true course; instead of which we have never been able to make better than a S.W. course. Of this I am the more certain, because we have not these twenty-four hours had occasion to steer on any point but one, S.W. by S. with a S.E. wind, and with every attention I could pay to the steerage. Such is the result of my observation. It is true that all voyage writers who have navigated for the business of discovery, take notice of the different currents about the equator, without being able to reduce them within any certain bounds or rate: and I much fear that this will always remain a source of error. These currents, as already observed, set to the westward, therefore I think our navigators in general, who cross the line about 20° or 21° W. might do it to more advantage at 12°; as by that means they will avoid the heavy weather experienced near the African shore. On my return to Europe, I found the winds as favourable for crossing the line in nearly the lat. 12°. as I did in 20°. and as the great point is to get into the variable winds between the S.E. and N.E. trade, to cross, I found them equally so; neither had we more rain. If a vessel therefore crosses about 12 degrees, she will not have so far to run to the W. before she gets clear of the S.E. trade; and if bound to the Cape or India, where it may be acceptable to have a sight of the former, or the land near it, she will greatly shorten the passage, as it is well known many have fallen in with Cape St. Augustine or Cape Rocque on the Coast of Brazil, and by so doing were obliged to run from continent to continent, merely because they judged it useless or impracticable to cross the Line under 20 deg. W. Independent of all this, there is another reason why at certain seasons the Coast of Brazil ought to be avoided, that is, between the months of February and July when the winds hang much to the S. being generally from S.S.W. to S. by E. and S.S.E. This is an old remark made by many, but not generally mentioned by navigators who have laid down directions for navigating these seas. The current on the Coast of Brazil from March to September sets to the N. and from September to March back again to the S. No doubt in doubling the Capes of Rocque and St. Augustine, the currents extend themselves more to the E. of which we had a sufficient demonstration enabling me to account for the remarks already made respecting the course of the Lady Nelson.
On the 18th, we were in lat. 9° 50' S. long. 28° 28' W. by lunar observation. Ever since the 12th instant we had nothing but S.S.E. and S. winds blowing at all times very heavy and squally with rain. This had impeded our progress to the S. very much, and carried us a long way to the W. Between the 3d and 7th degrees of S. latitude we observed the diminution of the strength of the current to the W.
The weather became moderate and pleasant on the 21st, with fresh breezes. We found the variation to be 4° 47' W. In these regions there is in general a constant weight or thickness of the air, even in the finest weather, perceivable to the eye, which proceeds, no doubt, from the heat of the sun rarifying the surrounding atmosphere, and no doubt makes a difference on the refraction of all bodies observed.
At sun-rise on the 23d, found the variation to be 5° 30' W. We were now so far to the S. as 16° 4' S. This agrees pretty nearly with the Variation Chart contained in the East India Pilot, which was projected in 1772, adding thereto the annual increase of variation to the W. The day proving fine we got the boats out to overhaul the keels, and found that the piece which had been joined on to the after-keel at Port Praya was gone. Not having sufficient plank in the vessel, I was obliged to admit the keel further down in the well, and join a breadth of plank I had left on to it with spike nails and iron hoops, by which means it went three feet into the water below the vessel's bottom.
On the 24th, we had strong gales from the S.S.E. with squalls and much head sea, that made us labour to a great degree.
The following day the weather was the same. Several pintadoe birds and sheerwaters were seen around us.
On the 28th, the weather became steady at N.W. but in the afternoon it took us aback at S.E. and fell calm in the evening. As we were now fast approaching Rio Janeiro, having an observation in lat. 22° 18' S. long. per account, 32° 19' W. I ordered a survey of the water on board; when finding we had twenty-four half hogsheads in good order, and several barricoes, I came to the resolution of not touching at Rio Janeiro. I also took the opportunity of inspecting the state of the vessel. The sail-room was perfectly dry. The bread-room, which we had access to every day, appeared the same; but unwilling to trust too much to that, I had the bread removed, and found several places where it leaked; particularly close to the stern frame, where the thwart-ship planks of the stern join to the butt-end of the fore and aft planks of the side; another near to the stern post, and several oozings about the iron knees that had been put into her previous to leaving the Thames. The loss sustained by this was upwards of two hundred weight of bread; however, we had still twenty-four bags and an half undamaged. It may be thought improper in me to make any observation on the work done to the vessel in Deadman's Dock, particularly in caulking her; but from the damage accruing to the sails and bread, and the wetness of the places where we slept, I trust the candid reader will excuse me, happy would I have been to have recorded otherwise.*
[* I hope these hints will be serviceable to those who have similar voyages to perform, and that they will not rely too much on those who are employed in caulking and fitting their vessels. Captain Cook complains of a similar circumstance.]
On the 30th, we had variable weather from calm to blowing strong, with squalls and rain. Although the swell was long and heavy, yet the vessel went through the water easy and dry. Numbers of birds were seen by us, particularly the haglet, many of which the men caught by baiting hooks with pork; and as the skin is covered with a very thick down, they made warm caps of them, which they wore instead of fur ones. Their flesh, if made into a pie, or broiled, we found not unpalatable. We now completed the stopping of the leaks in the bread-room. The mercury for some time past had not exceeded 86°, and sometimes was not higher than 81°.
On the 31st, our observation at noon was lat. 23° 56' S. long. by sun and moon, 30° 3' W. the weather heavy and gloomy with squalls and variable winds. Thermometer 81°, which generally, by its falling, indicated a change of weather.
The same weather, with much sea from the S.W. was experienced on the 1st of June: the wind shifted frequently from W.N.W. to S.S.W.
On the 2d, the thermometer at noon stood at 80°. At four P.M. the wind set in from the S. shifting at times to the S.S.W. At seven, it freshened into a brisk gale, with rain and squalls. The mercury fell to 75°½. During the night much lightning and rain, and a heavy gale.
At noon on the 3d it cleared up and moderated, which was indicated by the thermometer rising to 78°½. We now experienced a very heavy long sea, which, as we advanced to the S. seemed to increase in bulk. This sea takes longer time in rising and falling than that we generally have in the Western Ocean; nevertheless, it is not more troublesome, unless agitated from long blowing or currents, when the tops of those seas will break much and heavily.
On the 5th, the mercury fluctuated much from 75° to 71°, and back again to 76°, varying more or less almost every hour. At noon we found our latitude to be 25° 41' S. long. per account, 22° 9' W. and the variation, per sun's amplitude at setting, 7° 20' W.
Much sea and blowing hard from S.S.E. to S.E. with heavy squalls. Caught a number of haglets this day. Mother Cary's chickens, as commonly called by the sailors, or tempest birds, (the Procellaria Pelagica of Linnæus,) were seen in great numbers. Although they are said to indicate stormy weather, I have met with them in these seas in the calmest.
On the 8th, heavy sea with gales from the S.S.W. towards noon the wind died away, leaving a disagreeable swell, which made our little vessel roll and labour much. The mercury varied from 75° to 70° during the gale; and when it became calm it stood at 70°. Our observation this day was lat. 26° 38' S. long. 20° 4' W.
The calm was not of long duration, for at seven A.M. of the 9th it hauled back to blow from the S.W. which at noon freshened into a gale at S.S.W. with heavy rain and squalls; occasionally shifting from S.W. to S.S.W. and S.
This weather continued rather increasing all the 10th. The mercury fell to 68°. The sea had by this time got to such an height, that it was very pleasing to see our little vessel go through it so easy.
On the 11th, the squalls became more frequent, and increased with great violence attended by hail. At three P.M. it blew a perfect storm, which obliged me to heave the vessel to. The wind had risen to that pitch, that I looked for nothing else than having all the canvas (small and low as it was) blown out of the bolt-rope when exposed to the wind, as the vessel got on the top of a sea. She behaved much better than could have been expected, as she rose on the top of every thing, and shipped very little water, during the day. A few leaks broke out on the deck, one of which, over my bed, was a little troublesome, till the weather permitted its being secured. Several rainbows made their appearance this day. The mercury, which was 67° 30' when the vessel was have to, rose towards the evening to 69°. At nine P.M. a very heavy squall of hail and rain came on, with an increased degree of wind, which for a little seemed to lay the weight of the sea. We heard the squall before we felt it, and after it left us, which was not of long duration. A large rainbow was seen, which joined to the darkness of the night had a very disagreeable appearance. This was the second lunar rainbow I bad ever seen; the first was whilst cruising in the Gulph of Lyons in very heavy weather, which, however, brought with it a favourable change, as it also did on the present occasion.
In the morning of the 12th the weather moderated, the wind gradually abating. It hauled round to the S.S.E. We had still strong gales, with some rain, and much sea: but by this time we had got so accustomed to the little vessel and the rough weather, that all became familiar to us. It is but justice to my crew to observe that, though young and inexperienced lads, they had become so alert and attentive to their duty in reducing or making sail in such fluctuating weather, as to demand my highest praise. I had seldom occasion to call all hands upon deck for this purpose. At noon this day we had moderate weather, the wind from S. to S.S.E. The mercury, which during the night had been at 69° 30', now got up to 71°. I ordered all the bedding and clothes on deck to dry.
On the 13th, we had a light breeze from N.N.E. which we made the best use of to get southing. Took the opportunity of stopping the leaks through the deck, and examining our rigging, which was found not to be in the smallest degree chafed by the gale. Our latitude at noon was 27° 34' S. longitude 16° 51' W.
The wind shifted on the 14th to the W. and in an heavy squall at twelve P.M. it came round to the old quarter, blowing heavy and steady from S.S.W.
At day-break on the 15th it moderated and shifted to the S.E. by S. This variable weather was what we had no reason to expect in this latitude at this season of the year. As N.W. winds are generally experienced, directions are given to get to the southward, but hanging so long to the S. and blowing in so great a degree, together with the force of the sea, our progress was much impeded.
On the 16th it fell for a short time calm; but a N.W. breeze springing up, we carried all possible sail, it being the wind we had long looked for.
The breeze failed us on the 17th, shifting again to the S.W. accompanied with rain and squalls. One of the men struck a pilot fish, (Gastereotus Ductor. Lin.) being one of two which had followed the vessel some time. It measured seven inches in length; and in its maw was found a small fish resembling our common sand eel.
On the 18th we had a very heavy sea, with the wind as yesterday. By observation at noon we were in lat. 31° 13' S. long. per account, 11° 48' W. We were often obliged this day to throw the vessel before the sea, as it followed us, and rose more perpendicular than I had observed before. About five P.M. my attention was excited by a more than ordinary motion of the vessel. On my reaching the deck, I found no more wind than we had all day, but the sea was running very hollow, and breaking at times. On asking the mate, who had the watch, how long it was since this sea had got up? He answered, about ten minutes, when it rose and broke about half a cable-length from the vessel on the starboard-bow. It appeared to me so much like a break, that I believed the bottom could be at no great depth. Both of us were so much surprised, that, without speaking a word, I went and took the sails in to heave the vessel to, and put the deep-sea lead over, but had no soundings with one hundred and twenty fathoms line out. I saw the sea break twice as we passed it, one sea following the other, but as we were going six knots, and the sea very high, I could only observe it rise while the vessel was rounding to, higher on that spot than the place we were on. From the different form of the sea, together with the manner in which it broke, I think there must be some ground at no great depth in this spot; for it did not gradually rise into a heavy long swell, and break at top, as it had done all day, but was lifted suddenly up perpendicular, throwing itself forward, and doubling over as it fell into an immense column of water, breaking in a very heavy surge. There is little doubt, if we had been in it, that it would have overwhelmed us as it fell; so that more owing to chance than good management we escaped. The sea we had been going through all day, when in the hollow of it, was much higher than our mast head, so that we had no great scope of view; but no inconveniency was felt, as it was long, regular, and heavy, admitting the vessel to remain on the top of it some time before it rolled from under her: but these breakers were of a very different nature, I observed before, that it was the sudden motion of the vessel which brought me on deck; but as soon as she was hove to, we found ourselves in the same state we had been in all day. After laying, to about an hour we bore up. In the Chart prefixed to the East India Directory, some breakers seen by Captain Smith are laid down in the same latitude we were in at noon this day; but judging myself to the E. of them, and having a powerful swell from the W. with a strong W.S.W. gale, steering S.E. half S. with the addition of sometimes being obliged to throw the vessel farther off to the E. to avoid the break of the top of the sea at times, I did not apprehend falling in with them, as laid down by him in 13° W. Whether these be the same or not, or whether there is any ground, (though I have no doubt there is,) yet it will be some satisfaction to seamen to know, that they may guard against them. The latitude so nearly corresponds, that I have every reason to believe them the same. On my arrival at the Cape of Good Hope, I seized the first opportunity to transmit an account of them to Europe, with my opinion. I before remarked the latitude and longitude at noon, from which, until we fell in with these breakers, we had run thirty-two miles S.E. half S. by compass. On the 16th, the variation was observed to be 11° 30' W. and on the 20th, 14° W. I allowed the variation to be about 12° 15' W. when we saw those breakers.
On the 19th, the wind was fluttering all round the compass without any steadiness.
The following day we had it from E.S.E. to E. At noon, by observation, our lat. was 32° 31' S. Petrels, albatrosses, and pintadoes, were numerous. The weather was very cold; the mercury fell to 64°.
On the 21st, having got nearly into the latitude of the Cape, we bent our cables, but the wind which had hung so long to the S. seemed determined to oppose us, the more unlucky as we had got enough of southing, and now wanted misting. It continued till the 23d at E. and N.N.E. so variable were the winds at this season of the year from what they are supposed to be in these southern latitudes, and which is laid down to be in general from the W. The sea was much smoother.
At three P.M. of the 23d, we saw a vessel bearing down before the wind upon us. It now began to blow hard at N.N.E. The stranger as she approached proved to be a Spanish brig with prize colours up; captured in the River of Plate by a privateer fitted out by a merchant at the Cape of Good Hope, commanded by Mr. John Black, of whom I shall have occasion to make mention hereafter. On coming within hail the prize-master informed me that he had neither book or chart on board, and that he did not know where he was. He had suffered considerably in the heavy weather we had seen the breakers in, and begged some canvas and twine to repair his sails, and a few other articles he stood in need of. I desired him to keep company with me till the morning, informing him of the course I intended steering, and that I would shorten sail for him: I also gave him the latitude and longitude. The brig was about seventy tons burthen, laden with bees wax, hides, tallow and tobacco. On perceiving the shattered state of this vessel, without a boat, she having it washed overboard, I could not but be thankful we had not lost a single article from our decks since we left the Thames. The wind moderated about eight P.M. but with heavy rain, which continued during the night.
The wind shifted in the morning of the 24th, back to the W, but moderate. Our boat was hoisted out, and sent for the prize-master, to whom I gave a chart of the Cape, and the harbours in its vicinity; Hamilton Moore's Epitome, some canvas, twine, tea, sugar, and rum, which his men, from being constantly wet, stood much in need of. He received these with many expressions of thankfulness. I promised to keep him company to the Cape if his vessel did not sail too slow. I also furnished him with the declination for several days from the Nautical Almanack. I was convinced, from his bearing down on us, that he had lost both latitude and longitude, and asked why he would run the risk, as we were painted like a Spaniard; but he said he knew from our canvas we were not enemies. As to the crew, they were careless what we were, for having lost themselves they were determined to speak to us. The privateer had parted with the prize in a gale of wind. The Master was much surprized at the sight of the Lady Nelson, and concluded that we had started some of our sheathing, when he saw one of the keels, as the vessel was rolling from his. I explained the construction to him, which being perfectly new excited his wonder. He asked me if she was one of the King's yachts. When I sent him back to his own vessel, he asked one of my men whether I was not a little mad, for he could not credit the story I told him of our going on a voyage of discovery. However, to shew his gratitude, he sent us some jerked beef, of which he had plenty on board; and it proved an agreeable change from our salt meat.
On the 25th, we had light airs, inclining to calm. Mercury at 64°. Brig in company.
The following day strong gales with rain, and an heavy following sea. Mercury from 60° to 63°.
On the 27th, we had numbers of birds round us. Strong gales from N.W. Brig in company.
On the 28th, very heavy weather, but the little vessel behaved very well. They who are conversant with the weather in the vicinity of the Cape in the winter season, with a N.W. gale, must know it is sufficient to try vessels of any description whatever. On this day, the brig being a-head hoisted her colours, which was the signal I had agreed the Master should make if he saw land first. I was astonished at this, for my reckoning gave me no more than 3° E. It proved, however, nothing more than a cloud, which he mistook for the land about the Table Mountain at the Cape. Several pieces of rock weed floated past us this day. Our lat. per account, was 34° 24' S. long. 3° 56' E.
On the 29th, it blew from the N.W. a perfect storm, and in so irregular a manner, raising a very confused sea, accompanied with torrents of rain and lightning, that we had not experienced since we came out. At ten P. M. it shifted suddenly in a squall, and blew as hard from S.S.W. and S.W. causing the sea to break so much, that we were at midnight obliged to heave the vessel to.
At day-light on the 30th, the S.W. wind had laid the N.W. swell, so that we were enabled to bear up. Our companion had partly laid to, and partly run under bare poles during the night, so that he could but just be seen at day-light from the mast head. At three P.M. we joined company.
The wind continued hovering between S.W. and W. sometimes W.N.W. with thick cloudy weather till the 5th of June, when my latitude by dead reckoning, (for we had not been able to get an observation,) was 34° 20' S. long. 17° 27' E. We tried for soundings with an hundred and fifty fathom line, but found none.
On the 1st of July we had found the variation to be at sun-set per amplitude 21° 30' W.
It was nearly calm on the 6th, with a considerable sea. Our companion began to be very uneasy, as he expected to have seen land some time before. I gave him the declination from the Nautical Almanack for a few days more. During the night we kept a-head, as his men were few in number and much fatigued. The wind hauled to the N.W. in the first part of the night, and then back to S.S.W.
At five A.M. of the 7th we saw the land bearing S.S.E. and made all possible sail for it. Threw out the signal to the brig. At clear day-light the Lion's Rump S.E. by E. half E. distant five leagues. The southernmost point of the Cape bearing S. about eight or nine leagues. There was a great deal of sea going, and the wind unsettled, fluttering sometimes in light airs, and then bursting out in heavy squalls. Parted company with the brig, which was bound for Table Bay. At seven A.M. tacked and stood to sea in order to get in to Simon's Bay, as it is by no means safe to anchor at this season in Table Bay on account of the N.W. winds, which when they set in throw an immense sea into it, so that few vessels are able to ride them out. These winds prevail only in the winter season; that is, from the latter end of April till September, when the S.E. winds set in at times in the summer season with a great force in Simon's Bay. The latter being open to the S.E. and the former to the N.W. are entered by ships, according to the season of the year. At nine o'clock it fell perfectly calm, with a lowering sky and heavy sea, which made me think that we should have a favourable breeze from the N.W. But after beating backward and forward till eleven o'clock we lost ground. As a proof of the keels, though we had but little wind, she never missed stays but once, when the way through the water was scarcely perceivable; and such a body of water when she came head to the sea, was sufficient to make any vessel miss stays: perhaps when she did it, it was more my fault than hers. As we had much sea for some days, it was observed by my first-mate, as well as myself, that the vessel had more motion than we were generally used to in such weather. He started his suspicions of the main keel being gone; but it being impossible, in the weather we had, to cast loose the boats that stood over the top of it, in order to overhaul it, I would not suffer any mention to be made of the subject until we had a proper season to investigate it; I judged this also to be the case from the vessel not holding so good a wind as usual: but more of this hereafter. As the wind now freshened at S.S.W. I thought if it should come on to blow, from the want of main and after-keels, we might not be able to fetch any where, I determined to secure the port in view, and procure those repairs to the keels that they stood in need of: besides, as there were several small vessels in Table Bay, I was well convinced the Lady Nelson could ride much more out of the weight of the sea than most of them; particularly, as she drew at present not more than five feet aft, and four forwards when the keels were up. I therefore bore up, and was at anchor some time before the brig which had left me in the morning. When I entered the Bay, I found the vessel work into her berth very well; and at five P.M. of the 8th, I dropped my anchor in Table Bay, having been at sea ninety-nine days, independent of our stay at St. Jago.
I intended to stop no longer in Table Bay, at this season of the year, than was necessary to get my vessel's keels repaired, which was instantly set out by order of Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, who sent the builder of the naval yard to survey them. On getting up the main-keel, we found it broken short off in the wake of a bolt, as had happened to the after-keel, as already mentioned, and with such force that the bolt was twisted in different forms from the strain it received in breaking. On further examination, we perceived that the bolt running from one side of the keel to the other, which secured the planks it was composed of, had not been, from the boring of the holes, fairly introduced; as on one side there was not in some places above an eighth of an inch solid wood, though composed of oak plank of three inches and a half thick; so that there was about two inches of solid wood on one side of the bolt, and very little more at any one part than half an inch in the opposite side. Here again was a most flagrant degree of neglect in the eyes of every person who saw it; and was particularly observed by the Admiral and Mr. Boswell, builder's assistant, employed at this time to carry on the duty at Table Bay, in the absence of the master-builder, who was obliged to be with the men of war in Simon's Bay. It being impossible to repair the old keels, two new ones were ordered to be made; and as we had twice suffered by the bolts passing from one side of the keels to the other, I proposed having them fastened by bars of iron or copper let in level with the surface of the wood, one bar on a side opposite each other, secured with bolts passing through both bars and the keel in the middle of them, rivetting the ends of the bolts on each side. Two of these bars should be applied within three feet of the head of the keel, and two in like manner at the same distance from the lower end of it, with this idea that one bolt would be sufficient in the middle, and that these bands would prevent the planks from warping. It may be proper to observe, that it was evident the bolts which had secured the former keels were not driven through the planks in a right line; not, perhaps, owing so much to the holes being bored at equal distances from the ends, so as to become parallel with each other, but from the driving, which being obliged to be tight, might from the jerk of the stroke throw the bolt out of straight direction, as it appeared that one end of the bolts which, in the first instance passed through the heart of the planks, was higher than the other, as if they had been driven aslant, which left a small auger-hole beneath it unfilled, according as it had been wooded. As to the bolts, I confess, I was not partial to them, as they appeared to take away the strength of the wood. Mr. Boswell, being a young man of talents and genius in his profession, saw these defects, and proposed, in addition to the bars abovementioned, that in place of the bolts passing right through the keel from side to side, rag-bolts should be substituted in their room, passing only half way through each plank; and that no two bolts should fall in a direct line with each other, the planks by this means would be pinned one to another without any more than half of each being perforated in any one place. With the approbation of the Admiral this mode was adopted, and with bolts and bonds of copper the whole was soon finished in a stile, that from the experience I afterwards had of them reflected the greatest credit on the builder.*
[* This, like many observations I have been obliged to make on leaks, &c. has proceeded from the fault of the workmanship, and not any fault in the original plan.—As the fore-keel, which was constantly used in the worst of weather, absolutely lasted the voyage, and was in the vessel when I left her.]
On the 16th we sailed for Simon's Bay, and anchored the following day at nine o'clock A.M. I found there his Majesty's ship Porpoise, which had sailed from Spithead with us, bound to New Holland; the commander of which thought we had returned to Portsmouth, after parting company with the East India fleet on the 23d of March. From that Officer I learned, that the night we parted one of the Indiamen had lost her top-masts, and that the Porpoise on her passage had been obliged to cut away one of her boats, which was slung on her quarter; and likewise had her foremast damaged. I was very thankful that the Lady Nelson, which was not deemed seaworthy, should have performed her voyage to the Cape without losing a stitch of canvas, or having a spar of any kind damaged, and that we had our three boats safe on the deck. After this, surely even those who do not approve of such constructed vessels will not attribute it to chance, but to the proper cause, her goodness.
As I intended to wait for a more convenient season to make our passage to New Holland, I for this reason moved from Table Bay to Simon's Bay, avoiding by this means the violent N.W. winds, and heavy sea which rolls into the former from the 1st of May till the middle of September. From the construction of the Lady Nelson, and the little depth of water she drew, (not exceeding four feet when the keels were up,) we could have rode with safety in Table Bay, as some vessels at this time did. Vessels like ours would be highly serviceable at the Cape, either when the N.W. wind blows, as already observed, or when the S.E. winds prevail and have a similar effect on the bays which open to the eastward. The construction of the keels admits of the vessels being laid on shore, or even hauled up on it, advantages which must be obvious to every one who has witnessed a gale of wind in this quarter.
My orders being to remain at the Cape till the summer season commenced, a considerable stay for a circumnavigator, I therefore embraced every opportunity of gratifying my curiosity with respect to the state of the Colony. Had I been possessed of the accounts given by those who have published them, I might have availed myself of their observations; but that not being the case, the candid reader will excuse me, if his wishes are not so fully answered by the particulars which occurred to me, or from the information of some friends I found there.
On entering Table Bay every voyager is attracted by the majestic appearance of the Table Hill, whose head is often hid amongst the clouds. Many writers have given various measurements of this mountain; the following, however, I trust will be found correct. During my stay at the Cape I had the good fortune to procure them.
|Height of the Lion's Rump||382 yards|
|———————W. End of the Table Land||1174|
|———————E. End of the same||1195|
|Length of the Table Mountain||1760|
|Height of the highest Point of the Devil's Berg||1105|
|Height of the Shoulder of the same||474|
These are the perpendicular heights of all the most conspicuous parts of this majestic pile of Nature; at the foot of which, facing the Bay, stands Cape Town. The Beach on landing presents rather an unfavourable appearance to a stranger, as the fishermen and sailors in its vicinity are none of the cleanliest; however, this is amply compensated by the town, which for neatness and uniformity of building, with regularity of plan, is deserving of much encomium. If the capital of Southern Africa has not to boast of the superb palaces which decorate many others, yet it is without those wretched edifices which are partitioned off for the poor. Every inhabitant of Cape Town is master of the entrance to his house, and not a beggar is to be seen in the streets; as few Europeans, who have industry sufficient to undertake a voyage here, need be without employment. The Government of the Colony also obliges masters to maintain their decayed and aged slaves: indeed, the Dutch are very indulgent to those Africans, (the appellation for those slaves that are born at the Cape,) and the Malays employed for domestic purposes: but the lot of many of those who till the vineyards, and the half-naked Mozambiques, who are occupied in carrying wood, is very different. The consequence of the master is mostly derived from the size of his house, and the number of slaves he is possessed of.
Had the English retained the Colony, the labour of the wood-carriers might have been dispensed with, as coals might have been sent from New Holland, as will hereafter be shewn; or by working the mines of the Colony, which there is every reason to suppose contain abundance of this article, a consideration of the utmost importance, where wood is scarce or at a distance, and the labour of slaves exorbitant.
In the course of my excursions I could not fail remarking from the heights of Wineberg, commanding a view of both Bays, that the sea once occupied what is now an Isthmus, thereby making the peninsula of the Table Mountain, Cape Point, &c. an island. In travelling into the interior, you go over about twenty miles of this dreary Isthmus formed by ridges of sand containing shells. The country here is interspersed with extensive salt and fresh water lakes. On the opposite side the land again rises, and a ridge of high mountains extending S.E. and N.W. form a bather to the interior. From these mountains warm medicinal springs issue in different parts. The Dutch have formed baths and built huts near them for the accommodation of invalids; particularly at the following places; Elephant's River, Brandt's Valley, and Swaart Berg. The bath first mentioned is celebrated for the cure of ulcers and cutaneous eruptions; but from its distance and difficulty of access it is not so much frequented as the others. The accommodations are therefore much inferior, and rendered inconvenient from the only farm-houses in the neighbourhood being on the opposite side of the river, which is frequently impassable. It lies in a long narrow valley, scarcely a mile and half in width, bounded by rocks almost perpendicular. The banks of the river are covered with bushes containing abundance of game, particularly pheasants.
The springs at Brandt's Valley are greatly esteemed for gravelly complaints. They pour forth a little river of very hot water, which has the appearance of boiling. I do not exactly recollect the degree of temperature of it; but it was below the boiling point, as we tried an egg in it for ten minutes which it did not boil hard, though it considerably thickened the consistency of the white of it. A considerable degree of trouble is saved to those who live near this spring by scalding their fowls and pigs in it, a practice not very grateful to the taste of those who go there to drink the water. Sportsmen who visit this quarter must be careful that their dogs do not go into the water, for if their feet are scalded it deprives them of the ability to extricate themselves from it.
These springs bubble through a bed of sand at the foot of a steep rock, forming a pool, from which they descend in a stream of about eight feet wide, and two or three feet deep, running upwards of an hundred yards before the water is sufficiently cool to admit of being branched off for the supply of the baths.
The narrow and sequestered Brandt's Valley contains but one farm, the dwelling-house of which is near the bath huts, and there people of a superior description may be accommodated. The valley is hemmed in by towering mountains, whose rugged overhanging sides form some of the boldest features of Nature. From these it is curious to observe the progress of the smoking stream through the silent glen, disposing the mind to romantic ideas. I could not avoid recalling to my remembrance the mountains of Morven, and the lake of Lago in Ossian's Poems.
The baths at Swaart Berg are strongly chalybeate. They are much frequented; and the accommodations are far superior to the other two. All ranks assemble here at certain seasons, as well for pleasure as health, from Cape Town, and the delightful villages of Stellenbosch and the Paard. These Fashionables have an opportunity of enjoying as great a transition to inconvenience and expence, by crouding into the huts, as the Nobility and Gentry of Britain experience at our watering places: and I consider the Speeclactries of the Dutch Boors better adapted to their education and manners, than the amusements of ass and smock races, lately in vogue at Margate, &c. to more refined understandings.
[* A term for romping, low jokes and pastimes.]
At this place my relation Doctor James Robert Grant, Surgeon to the Staff at the Cape, met with a Doctor Brandt, who afterwards accompanied me in the Lady Nelson. This eccentric Gentleman had been wrecked in Delgoa Bay, on board the Lion East Indiaman, to which ship he had belonged in a medical capacity. He travelled by land to Cape Town; where, on his arrival, he related many extraordinary adventures which he bad encountered on his journey, with some circumstances respecting the existence of the unicorn, that influenced many in the belief there was in reality such an animal. Without entering into any investigation of the absurd notions of this literary oddity, I think it but proper to remark, that those best acquainted with the country, whom I have had an opportunity of conversing with on the subject, doubt the existence of it, and with much propriety. The Eeland (Bounde Bock or Coddo) whose horns resemble very much the one depicted for the unicorn, from their being placed so near to each other, and scarcely diverging, will evidently, in a profile view by a rude artist, be frequently represented as one; and this is often perceived in the small sticks made by the Hottentots, on which these animals are scratched, and accounts most satisfactorily for the figures discovered in the caves of the Boschmen, which have been brought in evidence of the existence of the unicorn.
As Dr. Brandt and his companions, (a dog and a baboon,) formed an important addition to the complement of the Lady Nelson, it will be proper to relate some of the circumstances under which I received this extraordinary man, whose constant restless disposition prevented him from performing any thing he undertook. Had this not been the case, he might have been of infinite service in discovering the interior of New South Wales. Dr. Grant and Mr. Farquhar, Agent Victualler at the Cape, having on a tour to Elephant's River in the East, and across the country to Swellendam in the West, stopped a few days on their return at the baths at Swaart Berg, found Dr. Brandt practising the healing art to the invalids who frequented them. Hearing of the arrival of a gentleman of his own profession, he paid his respects to the visitors; to whom he complained loudly of the ingratitude of the Dutch in not rewarding professional exertions, stating, that they had nearly consumed his stock of medicines, without returning him any thing to purchase more: lie was therefore anxious to change his quarters, more particularly, as the Frows in their Speeclactries used too great liberties with him. On questioning the landlord of the house respecting these circumstances, it was easy to perceive that though the doctor did not profit by his abilities, yet it had a visible effect on the landlord's house, who found his visitors increase; he therefore laughed at the doctor's complaints, adding, it was his own fault if he had not enough to satisfy him; as he had a constant invitation to his house and table; but he was so extraordinary a man, that he preferred a piece of bread and a draught of water in a hovel by the side of the bath, neglecting both his invitations and the patients to wander in the neighbouring mountains with his dog and his baboon. It was no uncommon thing for him to be absent for several days, and to return quite exhausted with hunger and fatigue, with the acquisition of a bag, filled with herbs, roots and stones. This description of the doctor, instead of having the effect the Dutch boor meant it should, interested Dr. Grant much in the poor man's favour. Had he possessed forbearance enough to confine a proportion of his marvellous embellishments, the extensive knowledge he possessed of the dead and modern languages would have corroborated the account he gave of his having a great property on the Banks of the Rhine, which he had quitted on the approach of the French, and of his declared aversion to democratic principles. As to his knowledge of medicine, he had studied it as a branch of science. From the account which he gave of himself, and his wretched appearance, Mr. Farquhar, with kindness and humanity, offered him an asylum in his house near Cape Town; from whence he might have every conveniency in the accomplishment of his favourite excursions. Unfortunately he had but one opportunity of doing this previous to the death of his worthy patron. The arrival of the Lady Nelson happened luckily for the Doctor, who had now met with a sincere friend in Dr. Grant; and as I wanted a person who combined Medical knowledge with a turn for Natural History, he was recommended to me. Dr. Brandt was more indifferent in stipulating for himself than for his baboon and dog, which he represented as the faithful and useful companions of his wanderings. He expatiated warmly on the services of the former. To him he had been indebted for sustenance; for when in want of bread he had recourse to roots, which he first offered to Jackoo; who having examined and tasted them, threw away with disgust such as were prejudicial, and eat such as were otherwise, of which the Doctor partook. As to his dog, he guarded him from wolves, and hyenas. Though the whole of this party was rather too great an addition to so small a vessel as mine, yet I was so much interested in the poor man's situation, that I gave directions for their admission.
During my stay in Simon's Bay I made several excursions to the tops of the hills which overhang Simon's Town, and was much surprized to find there an extensive flat, with a rivulet running through it. The soil and extent of it appear capable of producing abundance of vegetables, and affording the means of rearing poultry, &c. It is therefore singular that this fine piece of ground should have been so long neglected, when these articles are so extremely scarce and dear. In the confined spot on which Simon's Town stands there being no such conveniences, the inhabitants, as well as those on board ships, must depend on supplies from the opposite side of Table Bay, where a small Creek, called Gordon's Bay, penetrates into Hottentot Holland.
In mentioning this Creek, it may not be improper to observe, that from its proximity to the Kloof, (a hill so called,) and other circumstances, it would be a favourable place for a debarkation, in case of any future attack upon the Cape, even should the principal landing be effected in Table Bay; a measure which appears to me by no means impracticable in a country which naturally presents so many obstacles to the progress of an army.
It is not for me to decide on the advantages or disadvantages which the retention of this Colony might be of to Britain. Its productions in its present state are certainly trifling to this country; but the great. extent and unequal surface of the country affording such a variety of soils and climate, it is probable that by a proper exertion of the natives, many useful articles of produce might be introduced, and the making of wine carried both in variety and quality to a very great degree of improvement and trade. An inland navigation could be conducted between False and Table Bay, which would greatly obviate the inconvenience arising from ships being obliged to shift round at the particular seasons. It would likewise save the expence of land-carriage for many articles from one place to another.
The Creeks also, which have been recently ascertained by Captain Callender, penetrating into the vast forests on the Eastern Coast, offer the means of extending the coasting trade, the safety of which I have already hinted would be greatly secured by the use of vessels with sliding keels.
With all the improvements this country is capable of, the probability is, that the revenues would never defray the expence in the hands of the English, though it would be capable of much annoyance in the possession of an enterprizing Maritime Power like ours.
It is to be hoped that the late mild and just Government has left a favourable impression of the British character on the minds of the discerning part of the inhabitants: yet at the same time it is to be feared that the democratic principles, which have been instilled into the Dutch by their French neighbours at home, have many warm advocates in Cape Town and its vicinity. Perhaps it would not be fair to ascertain the character of the African Dutch from the variety of people of all nations in the town, or those in its neighbourhood, whose habits or dispositions are affected by an intercourse with Caffres, Bosch-men, and vagrant Hottentots. Probably we may be more successful in the Midland Districts, such as the Twenty Four Rivers, Roodtland, and the course of the Broad River. There we view the African Boor, whose simplicity is not destroyed by attacks from the one side, or his comfort from the other. He abounds with the necessaries of life, and has but few inducements to indulge avarice or sensuality. The sale of a few cattle, together with some trips annually to Cape Town with butter, and other articles of small bulk, procure him the means of providing clothes, coffee, tea and sugar. Wine, brandy, and tobacco are the produce of his farm, the superintendence of which, and his distance, prevent him from carrying to market; having neither the cravings of luxury or the necessity of providing for rent, tithes and taxes, to induce him. This, added to the want of inns, and consequently of intercourse, may have an effect of rendering hospitality so general a trait in those districts; and with the assistance of climate account for the gigantic and phlegmatic appearance of the people.
The nature of this country requires hospitality, which seems practised as a duty, not requiring the stimulus of ostentation. On the arrival of the stranger, he is neither accosted with bows or grimaces, nor is a family put in an uproar to distress him: if the unwieldy Boor rises from his seat, and relinquishes his pipe to approach the new-comer, it is to be considered rather as a mark of extraordinary respect than a necessary token of welcome. The words oot span and coom binnen, (which in Dutch imply to unharness and come in) are signals of the latter. Such as look for punctilio and officiousness will be disappointed. They who can accommodate themselves to the fare of the house have an opportunity of passing their time agreeably.
I am aware that this account may be different from what many have experienced whose stay at the Cape only admitted of excursions to Stellenbosch, the Paard, and such places as are influenced by frequent intercourse with, and habits of the town: had they proceeded farther, they would most probably coincide with my observation.
Let it be remembered that some knowledge of the Dutch language is an essential recommendation of the traveller; for though taciturnity is a general trait amongst the Boors, yet they like to be addressed familiarly. If the usual interrogatories of—How old? and, Are you married? be not attended to, they are apt to construe the cause into proud repugnance.
I shall conclude my observations on the researches which the interior of this interesting Colony affords, by remarking to those who attribute the variety of the human species to the effect of climate:
The extreme contrast between the Hottentots, Boschmen, and Caffres inhabiting the same latitude. The former of a pale yellow colour, hideous contracted features, with scarcely the appearance of a nose; and is probably the most diminutive of the human race; whereas the Caffre is dark in his complexion, open in his countenance, tall and athletic; and this striking difference seems to extend to their mental as well as corporeal qualities.
The very weapons which they use seem to indicate this. The Boschman, concealing himself in his bush, lets fly his poisoned arrow at the object of his prey, but there is no poison in the hasseguay of the Caffre, which he advances and throws at his enemy with dexterity and strength. It remains to be known what the Caffre with his simple weapon can effect, when he rendered himself worthy the attention of the active Government, and respectable force which has of late existed there under the British. Without such a force it will probably require more than an usual exertion of the Dutch to confine the Caffre bands within their present limits. To what extent these vary from the nominal boundary of the great Fish River, it is not in my power to determine.
I now returned to Simon's Town, where the Lady Nelson lay ready to prosecute her voyage. About this time several extra East India ships had arrived at the Cape; many of which had received considerable damage in their passage, particularly the Phoenix. That vessel suffered much in her masts and rigging, which joined to her being weakly manned, and other casualties, had rendered it necessary for the Captain, and some of the passengers, to exert themselves in the duties of foremast men. From the information of a young Gentleman, one of the passengers, whose relations I am acquainted with, and the testimony of others on board, I am enabled to state, that owing to the persevering example of the Captain, and his good seamanship, he extricated his vessel from many dangers and brought her safe into Table Bay. The Wellesley, extra ship, commanded by Captain Peter Gordon, in her passage out was parted from the convoy, nearly in the latitude of Rio Janeiro, and soon after chased by a French ship of much superior force in guns and weight of metal. Finding it impossible to escape, he determined to hazard an action, which accordingly took place, and lasted above an hour, when the Frenchman sheered off. The Wellesley was mostly manned with Lascars; but the Officers of the ship were gallantly supported by the passengers. The number of souls on board did not exceed ninety, and the guns were nine-pounders; whilst the enemy was full of men, and from the weight of some of the shot afterwards taken out of the sides of the Wellesley, she had twelve-pounders. Not a man was killed on board of Captain Gordon's ship. The Frenchman continued in sight for two days, but did not think proper to renew the engagement, probably from the circumstance of his having suffered much. The capture of the Wellesley would have been a very serious loss to the Cape, as she was laden with Government stores. The conduct of the gallant Captain and those on board, weak as they were, is the more deserving notice and praise. By this ship I received orders from his Grace the Duke of Portland, one of his Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, to search for the Strait which separates Van Dieman's Land from New Holland, and to make my passage, if possible, through it. The fortunate prosecution of which will be seen hereafter.
As the time for my departure drew near, I was often teased with groundless fears and apprehensions formed by idle people, on the account of the seas which so small and singularly constructed a vessel as mine had to encounter in the run from the Cape to New Holland. However, the winter passage we had already made with so much safety, joined to the good opinion the crew entertained of the Lady Nelson, and their determination not to quit me, brought us many visitors, and numbers of volunteers from different ships in the Bay. But as I conceived my crew sufficient, with the addition of the Doctor and a carpenter (whom I procured here), I declined all farther offers, to the disappointment of many. I was still under the necessity of accepting an addition, which I would rather have dispensed with, in the person of a Dane, gigantic in his appearance, who had been boatswain of one of the extra ships arrived at the Cape in a state of mutiny. He had been tried and sentenced to transportation to New South Wales. The request for my taking this man on board coming from Admiral Sir Roger Curtis, I could not object to it, as I felt myself much indebted to him for his polite attention to myself, and the interest he took in the completion of every thing the Lady Nelson required. The man was sent on board in irons, which I liberated him from, and found him afterwards to be an excellent seaman, active, willing, and occasioning no trouble. This induced me to recommend his case to the Governor of New South Wales, and he obtained his emancipation soon after my arrival.
Before taking leave of the Cape, I beg the indulgence of acknowledging my obligations to the Commandant of Simon's Town, Major Stephen Collins, of the 81st regiment, and his Family, and the Officers composing the Garrison during my stay there, for their great attention and hospitality; to Doctor Pattison, Surgeon to the Naval Department, Messrs. Smith, Mould, &c. &c. For so pleasing and valuable a society I am principally indebted to my friend Dr. Grant, of the Hospital Staff, whom I have already mentioned, as being resident there; to this Gentleman I am moreover under many other obligations. Dr. Grant had been appointed to take charge of the sick of the 22d and 34th regiments, which two regiments sailed from England at the same time I did, and being chiefly composed of boys had suffered much during the voyage. Through that Gentleman's former knowledge of the Cape I derived much useful information, for which I am indebted to his liberal communications.
On the 7th of October, being completely equipped, I put to sea at eleven A.M. with a fine breeze from the N.W. and bid adieu to many who came down to see the little vessel depart, most of whom entertained doubts of our ever reaching New South Wales. At four P.M. I got clear out of False Bay, and at seven in the evening Cape Hanglip bore E.N.E. and the Cape of Good Hope N.W. ½W. distant five leagues. We had now fresh gales from the W. and W.N.W. which in the night freshened with rain and a considerable sea. I found that the vessel had lost none of her good qualities; and as the S.E. Monsoon had set in at this season, which blows with much force at times, I was determined to keep as much as possible out of its track, by getting into a higher south latitude as fast as I could. It was recommended to me to run down my casting without going into a higher latitude than the Cape, from an idea that the heaviness of the sea in the latitude of 40° S. would be too much for my vessel to scud through, owing to the W. winds blowing in these latitudes constantly all the year round, and generally from the S. and W. thereby occasioning much heavy sea, hail, sleet, &c. Being well assured of the safety of my vessel, joined to the delays that might attend my keeping in variable latitudes subject to the strong S.E. winds, I prosecuted for some time my course to the southward, judging that on finding ourselves in too heavy weather we could leave it by hauling to the northward, and keeping in that parallel which best answered my purpose; at the same time securing a fair W. wind. Independent of this being my own idea, I was encouraged in it by Captain John Osborn, of his Majesty's ship Tremendous, an old and experienced Officer, whose attention to me whilst at the Cape, joined to much good advice concerning my voyage, I am happy in having the opportunity to acknowledge, and to say that I profited by it.
At six A.M. we had squally weather with much rain, which by noon cleared off, and we observed the latitude to be 35° 40' S. I still continued running to the southward, and found, as we got into an higher latitude, the wind to increase with much rain at times, and in general gloomy and uncomfortable weather, though we had not as yet met with the S.W. winds so much looked for. In the latitude of 36° and 37° I found that they hung in the N.W. quarter, and shifted to N. and N.E.
On the 10th, I observed at noon the latitude to be 38° 40' S. We had much following sea, though not in my opinion wind enough to raise or cause it. The wind had varied from E.N.E. to N.W. by N. It had every appearance of blowing, and as I have often found since in these high southern latitudes, that the sea frequently gets to a great height before the gale comes on, I have also observed, that after a gale has done blowing for some time the sea will continue to rise, break much, and become very troublesome. It is no uncommon thing to find an heavy gale that has continued to blow with great violence, and steady for many hours, die away in the course of half an hour to almost a perfect calm. To many who are in large heavy vessels, like those in general made use of in crossing these seas, some of the above particulars might, and I believe are but little observed or attended to; but owing to the small size of the Lady Nelson, it became of the utmost importance to me to attend particularly to all those evolutions: in larger vessels the sea is not so much felt. As I observed above, we had this day no more than a fresh wind with a heavy following sea; insomuch, that the difference of latitude, by observation at noon, was fifteen miles more than our distance run. It perhaps might be owing to currents; however I am inclined to impute it to the power the sea has over the light draught of water of small vessels like mine when going before it. Soon after noon it came on to blow very heavy, so that before night we were obliged to hand every thing except the close-reefed main-top-sail, and reefed fore-sail. The vessel scudded through the sea remarkably well, though it had got up to an uncommon height, and so perpendicular, that when getting over it appeared as running down a steep precipice; yet she did not ship any water of consequence. From the magnified stories I had heard at the Cape, I was in some degree led to believe I should not have less all the way, I therefore made some easting and endeavoured to keep in this parallel of latitude, until I saw how the weather would turn out. At twelve P.M. it freshened so much that we were obliged to bunt the fore-sail, and let the vessel run with the close-reefed main-top-sail lowered down on the cap all night, which she did perfectly easy and dry. I am aware that many seamen may think scudding under a main-top-sail in a brig is a bad plan in case of broaching to, and prefer going under the fore-top-sail; but here is another advantage, which vessels with sliding keels have over others. Vessels in general broach to in a sea from not answering their helms sufficiently quick, perhaps from the force of the sea depriving, by its lift for a time, the rudder of its power. It is often occasioned in deep-loaded vessels, by their being too much loaded by the head; so that in all weathers they require a great deal of weather-helm, or as it is termed steer wild. In these cases, no doubt, a fore-top-sail is serviceable to pay off the vessel again by. But it has also the disadvantage, that it will often bury her more in the sea, and not admit of her being so lively as she might prove from a sail more in the center. Some are of opinion that a fore-top-sail makes a vessel lively by the force of the wind, serving as it were to lift the vessel up; but in small short ones, in a heavy towering sea, it will be found to impel them much faster downwards, than in assisting them to rise to it, frequently burying the bowsprit in the water, if not carrying it entirely away. By such means every thing may be washed off the decks, and the vessel much strained. The sliding keels in this last respect are particularly serviceable, because the trim of the vessel, that is, the draught of water at either extremity may be altered at pleasure; by which means if properly attended to, she may be steered in the heaviest weather with the greatest ease, and in general weather without touching the helm at all. In all cases, a vessel of this description can be brought up, or fall off faster than her sails can be trimmed to the wind. There is another great advantage, which is, in heaving-to quickly in an heavy sea: this is particularly useful in small craft, as I have often experienced, by having the sail ready to set that I intended to lay-to under, and watching the passing of one sea, with proper attention to the keels, and taking the head-sail quickly off as the helm is put down; by which means the vessel will be round head-to the next following sea, and would stay if not prevented by again righting the helm. This cannot be done in other vessels, they must be brought-to gradually, and often ship many seas before that can be accomplished, as their beam must necessarily for a time be exposed, and in deep-loaded vessels, frequently attended with the loss of every thing on deck from the force of the sea.
The same heavy weather continued with very little variation, accompanied with hail at times, and heavy rain till the 12th, when it began to moderate, and towards noon the gale had nearly subsided, but left behind it an high troublesome cross sea, which made the vessel tumble about a great deal, and ship some water at times. As the wind had varied during the gale from N. by E. to W.N.W. hauling back at times to N.N.W. and N.W. I altered our course as I found it convenient, keeping the vessel right before the wind, which, as it did not lead us out of our way, I preferred on account of the heaviness of the sea we had got into, which at times broke much: I was therefore from this circumstance obliged at all times to have a watchful eye upon the sea, and throw the vessel directly before it without regarding any particular course, by which means she shipped little water. At noon on the 12th, by observation, I found we were in lat. 38° 17' S. long. by account, 27° 18' E.—We this day had many birds of the Pintadoe and Petterel kind about us. One of the former species, a very beautiful bird, in the height of the gale, from what cause I know not, unless it had overeaten itself, fell down on the deck, and vomited a greenish sort of matter as it was falling. One of the men picked it up, and brought it to me, but I ordered it to be laid on the deck, where it scrambled about till it got behind a hen-coop, when it lay quiet. I have reason to believe that aquatic birds, which chiefly prey on the water, and but seldom visit land, are incapable of walking, but assist themselves by scrambling with their feet and wings; at least all I have had an opportunity of observing did so. After remaining behind the coop about fifteen minutes, the bird again scrambled to the side of the vessel, and dropped into the water, where it appeared for the short time we saw it as lively as any of the others, which were in numbers about us, both in the water and on the wing. It is certain that the black Haglet, which I have several times mentioned in this narrative, procures its food by often harassing and fighting with other birds, particularly a species of gull (called by the seamen, the Fisherman) until they throw up the food they have swallowed, which the other instantly seizes on. Probably this might have been the cause of the Pintadoe taking shelter with us. Hereafter I shall have occasion to notice these kind of birds.
On the 13th, we had moderate fine weather, which enabled us to determine the longitude by observation of the sun and moon's nearest limb to be 29° E. of Greenwich. By account it was 29° 55' E. We had the wind at W.N.W.; towards evening it hauled to the S. and E. bringing with it squalls and rain, which gradually came round to the S.W. when we had clear steady weather.
On the 14th at noon, we were in latitude 38° 1' S. by observation. From this I judged that we had nothing to fear from the latitudes, which I had been informed were likely to give us much trouble in regard to the seas generally met with in them. As I had scudded through a very heavy one in the last gale without the smallest loss or damage, I intended not to get farther to the N. than 38° S. or to the S. than 40', as to the N. of the first mentioned latitude variable winds might much retard my progress, and in the latter we should have as much wind as we could make a good use of without trouble or inconveniency. Though it is laid down as a general rule that strong W. or S.W. winds prevail or are to be met with in latitudes 35° and 36° S. I shaped a course more S. and on the 16th at noon, observed the latitude to be 38° 44' S. and the variation, per sun's amplitude at setting, 28° 45' W. We had a strong breeze with rain the greatest part of the following day; but on the 18th the weather became very fine. The variation per sun's amplitude at setting was 31° 47' W. As usual I ordered the bedding and clothes upon deck, cleaned thoroughly below by washing the cabins and berths with vinegar, and sprinkling oil of tar in all places where the air had not a free circulation. From this day till the 22d the weather was uncommonly fine, the wind generally from S.W. to N.W.N. N.W. and W.S.W. On the last mentioned day the weather became dark and cloudy, with fresh gales and heavy showers of rain at times. A number of Pintadoes, Petterels and Albatrosses of a large size were about us. We had no observation at noon. At midnight we were under close-reefed main-top-sail and fore-sail; but at day-light it moderated.
On the 23d, we observed at noon our latitude to be 39° 44' S. These repetitions of latitudes, longitudes and weather, will be tedious and unsatisfactory to those who are not seamen or navigators; but to the latter who may pursue a similar track, and perhaps in a small vessel, it may be useful to know that in these parallels of latitude no land has been met with; and which as we got on to the E. was determined by our running down our easting in a parallel of latitude that no vessel we have any account of ever pursued; that is to say, in the parallel of 38° and 39° S. from Amsterdam Island until we made the S. and W. sides of New Holland.
On the 24th, we had variable and squally weather with showers of hail and sleet; however, it did not prevent our having an observation at noon, when we found our latitude to be 39° 13' S. The following day at noon we were in latitude 38° 49' S. The weather cold and raw with sleet and snow, and an heavy cross sea running. However, the vessel got through it very well.
On the 26th, we found the variation to be, per azimuth at sun-rising, 26° 57' W. latitude by observation at noon 39° S. longitude from lunar observation, sun and moon taken, forty-three minutes past noon, 60° 46' E. of Greenwich.
The weather until the 29th was various, generally squally with rain and sleet. On the 28th at noon, by observation, we were in lat. 38° 54' S. The following day the wind hauled to the N.E. and N.N.E.: had no observation this day, but by account it was 39° 1' S. Towards evening the wind from N.E. freshened into a heavy gale, so that we were obliged to heave the vessel to, as it blew with great violence in gusts with heavy showers of sleet and hail. The sea was so powerful that it often, from striking the bow of the vessel, threw her off so far as to expose her beam very much when in the trough of the hollow sea, which becalmed, nearly, the small after-sail we had set on her: I therefore tried the effect of a drag-sail, giving it a good scope. It answered remarkably well, and at the same time prevented her from making much drift; so that she never fell off more than three points, and presently returned; that is, when we had the wind at N.W. by W. to which point, when it veered round, she came up to N. by W. and fell off to N.N.E. We also got the fore-topsail-yard on deck, which eased her wonderfully, and made her much drier, though we shipped but very little water. Owing to her little draught and flat bottom she rose like a piece of cork on the top of every wave.
At seven o'clock in the morning of the 30th, we had much less wind, but a very heavy sea. We got up the fore-topsail-yard and bore up. By double altitude of the sun we found the latitude to be 39° 50' S.
On the 31st the variation per amplitude was 26° W. latitude by observation at noon 39° 28' S. long. by account 74° 23' E. As I intended to touch, if possible, at the Island of St. Paul, or at all events to get a sight of it, I made the best of my way for that purpose.
The following day, the 1st of November, we had no observation at noon; neither could we, from the thickness of the weather, get a double altitude. Though deprived of the former, yet I depended much on seeing the Island of Amsterdam, in order to correct my longitude, and endeavour if possible to land on it. I therefore made my arrangements for the night, in case of meeting with any unforeseen accident. In the morning the weather proved clear, which enabled me to see the wished-for island at eight o'clock A.M. We steered close along the S.E. shore, and found frequent flurries and gusts of wind accompanied with rain. Seamen in passing close in shore ought to be guarded against these; for though the weather was fine some miles from this land, insomuch that we could carry every sail, yet on our approach we were obliged to come under close-reefed topsails, and afterwards take the fore-topsail in altogether. A thick cloud hovering over the highest peak of the island indicated at this time unsteady weather. They who have seen the top of the rock of Gibraltar when the strong Levant winds are blowing, will be able to form a better idea of this appearance than any thing I can say on the subject.
The shore we passed along was pretty high and inaccessible, until we opened the Bason described by all navigators who have visited this place, and which is remarkable from a sugar-loaf rock standing contiguous to it. This is the proper mark given for bringing a vessel to anchor; and it does not appear till you are close upon it, when keeping near the shore, owing to its being hidden by a nook of land. Great care must be taken to have every thing ready for immediately coming to an anchor, there being a very strong outset from the Bason, which is felt the moment you open the rock. In this instance we were particularly unfortunate. I have before observed, that we had heavy flurries off the shore, and that the Peak was covered with a cloud. The moment we had opened the Bason, and got a sight of this rock, there came on so violent a squall, with thick sleet and rain, that the land was entirely hidden from our sight. The current also which setting out very strong had caused a confused bubbling and troublesome sea, and though we hauled to windward instantly, and made several tacks, in order to gain the bank for anchoring, our efforts were without effect, the wind and current being too powerful for us. When the squall cleared off, we saw a flag staff and flag flying on the top of the Peak, and knowing that people were often there killing seals, I supposed that a party of these was there at that time, which was confirmed to us, as will appear hereafter. However, we could not discover this party though we had an excellent telescope.
The appearance of Amsterdam Island is not favourable to the eye from there being no trees on it. It is plentifully covered with grass. The sea here abounds with fish and seals; which we had an opportunity of proving as to the former, having caught some very fine snappers. We did not observe many birds, owing, perhaps, to their being at this season on shore breeding. We only saw a flock of small white birds with swallow-forked tails; a few pettrels and penguins, and a bird resembling a crow, but rather larger, with a black back, and white breast. The boisterous weather probably prevented our seeing any seals, which are said to be numerous about this and the neighbouring island of St. Paul. Of these islands little new can be related. John Henry Coxe, Esq. in his voyage gives a very just and accurate description of them, as far as I had an opportunity of observing. Having his Work in my possession I referred to it as I sailed along; and I am free to declare, from the accuracy of it, that he has left little for others that may follow to do. I wished much to have had an opportunity of observing, whether the warm springs, taken notice of by all who have visited them, are salt or fresh. This my worthy and esteemed friend Captain Schank requested me to do; but I was disappointed by both wind and current, and did not chuse to lose time through waiting for a change in the former. The current I found hurried us on to the S.E. and the wind varied from N.W. to S.W. altering every squall. I had an observation at noon, when the body of the Island bore S.W. distant six miles. The latitude I observed was 38° 46' S. longitude by my account 77° 18' E. of Greenwich; variation per the sun's amplitude at setting 22° 30' W. Soon after leaving the Island we passed a piece of board like a boat's thwart with some rope round it.
On the 3d, we passed much sea weed, and saw some whales. Latitude by observation at noon 38° 9' S. longitude by account 80° 24' E.
The following day we saw many whales of the kind called the Right Whale: these do not yield spermaceti. One of my crew had been two voyages in the whale fishery, and pointed out the different species when they appeared, and by the blow at a great distance.
Nothing particular occurred till the 9th, when whales of the spermaceti kind were very numerous round us, and birds of the pintadoe, pettrel and albatross species. At noon our latitude by observation was 38° 6' S. longitude by account 100° 13' E. The weather in general was very variable from wet to dry, accompanied with strong winds, which shifted from S.W. and S.S.W. to N.W. and N. We had, however, more northerly wind than southerly, and which brought with it in general a great deal of rain. The northerly winds in this hemisphere coming from the Line towards the Pole bring with them nearly the same weather in general when they blow strong, as southerly winds do on the British coast.
We had several showers of hail with the wind at S.W. on the 11th; and on the 13th, I ordered the bread-room to be examined, when a leak was discovered from two iron knees, and another from a but end, which I suppose had been neglected to be caulked. Four bags of bread, containing 100 weight each, and part of some others, were entirely damaged. This was the second time I had been so tricked. Bread put up in bags is much better than loose; for when it meets with an accident in the bread-room in the latter way, it is very difficult to separate the good from the bad. Apprehensive of leaks, I had put a few bags into the hold prior to leaving the Cape, all of which were in good order. The leaks we soon stopped. We now began to decrease our westerly variation fast. On the 15th, by the sun's azimuth at setting, we found 12° W. variation; and on the 16th, it being calm, we got a boat out and tried if there was any current, but none could be perceived. At noon, by observation, our latitude was 38° 10' S. longitude, by account, 119° 14' E. The weather was now fine: we saw several different species of whales, with two threshers at work on one of them. This fish it is said kills the whale.
On the 20th, by lunar observation, we found the longitude to be 125° 14' E. latitude at noon 38° 18' S. Many porpoises about us, two of which we killed, affording a fresh meal to the crew. I still kept up the custom of airing the bedding, and washing between decks, which kept my men active and healthy.
By my account on the 23d, we were in longitude 130° E. latitude 38° 31' S. As we had now crossed Captain Vancouver's Track, which is the farthest eastward of any laid down in this parallel of latitude, it behoved us to keep a strict and attentive look-out for land both by night and day. I therefore admonished my small crew to watch carefully every appearance of that nature, promising every encouragement to those that were diligent, and pointing out to those inclined to be otherwise the dangers we were liable to encounter through neglect, with the disgrace and punishment which assuredly must fall to them. I had the satisfaction to find that they punctually executed all my orders, and I never had occasion to find fault with any one of them, during the time I had the honour to command the Lady Nelson.
On the 24th we bent both our cables, and unstowed the anchors. We kept a strict look-out from the mast-head for land, day and night.
We observed the variation by the sun's azimuth at setting on the 26th, to be 4° 55' W. At noon the latitude was 38° 13' S. longitude by account 135° 14' E. The following day the variation was 2° 30' W. latitude 38° 15' S. We had but few birds about us. The weather dark and hazy, but generally the nights were clear with heavy dews falling, which I attributed to our proximity to the land.
On the 29th, it was perfectly calm without a ripple. I tried if there was a current, but only found a small drift to the eastward, but so small as not to deserve any rate, and could just be observed by the line when immersed several fathoms beneath the surface, the other bodies taking their drift in that direction. In the night we had a breeze from the E. and towards noon it freshened into a brisk gale, which lasted till the 30th, with uncommon smooth water for the force of wind, and the length of time it had blown. The heavy dews at night continued.
On the 1st of December we passed a large spermaceti whale, and at three P.M. we got so close to a seal as nearly to have run a boarding pike into it, there being little wind. At five P.M. we passed another, which followed us for some time, looking up at us, and shaking his head as he leaped from the sea In the middle watch; that is to say, between twelve and four in the morning, we heard and saw several seals. The wind was from the E.N.E. to N.E. by E. moderate with heavy dews.
At noon on the 2d, we observed the latitude to be 38° 19' S. longitude by account 139° 44' E. We had light winds inclining to calm. We had lost all the birds that generally followed us. The clouds hung heavy to the eastward, and about the horizon had much the appearance of land. In the evening one of those long flies, known by the name of horse-stingers, came on board and lighted on the main-sail, where it continued for some time. This was a stronger proof of land being near us than any we had yet seen, as this insect could not exist for any length of time at sea. Though no land was to be seen I redoubled my watchfulness. In the evening it came on to blow with much sea during the night, which obliged us to keep very snug sail, in order to be enabled to haul, if necessary, close to the wind without losing time. It continued to blow with heavy squalls and rain until four in the morning of the 3d, when we had day-light; after which I made all the sail I could. At eight A.M. I saw the land from the N. training as far to the E. as E.N.E. The part that was right ahead appearing like unconnected islands, being four in number, distant six or seven leagues. At noon I observed, being in with the land, our latitude to be 38° 10' S. longitude by account 142° 30' E. which, according the best of my judgment, after looking over my Reckoning, I allowed the western point of land to lay in 142° E. From the distance I was from the shore, and observing in 38° 10', I make Cape Banks to lie in 38° 4' S.
It will be proper to give in this place the following copy of the Journal which I gave Governor King, being a narrative of what happened from the day I saw the land till I came to Wilson's Promontory; to which I shall add some marginal notes made by the Governor himself.
I beg however previously to observe, that I have strong suspicions of land lying to the E. of New Holland from the number of seals and the fly which came on board, as already mentioned. I remark this, as from the run I made after until I made the land was 126 miles by the log: it is true we had for some days easterly winds which might have blown the insect off, but the distance is so great that I doubt it much.
"December 3d, at day-light made all possible sail, judging myself to be in the latitude of 38° S.* At eight A.M. saw the land from N. to E. N.E. the part that was right ahead appearing like unconnected islands, being four in number, which, on our nearer approach turned out to be two Capes and two high mountains a considerable way in shore. One of them was very like the Table Hill at the Cape of Good Hope, the other stands farther in the country. Both are covered with large trees, as is also the land which is low and flat, as far as the eye can reach. I named the first of these mountains after Captain Schank, and the other Gambier's Mountain. The first Cape I called Northumberland, after his Grace the Duke of Northumberland, and another smaller but very conspicuous jut of the land, which we plainly saw when abreast of Cape Northumberland, I named Cape Banks. When the former Cape bears N.W. by W. distant eight or nine miles, Schank's Mountain bearing N. and Gambier's N. by E.; from the vessel Schank's Mountain loses its table form and appears like a saddle. There does not appear to be an harbour here, but vessels may find shelter under Cape Northumberland from N. and N.N.W. winds, as also between Cape Banks and it from the E. winds. The shore is in general a flat sandy beach, the sea at present making no breach upon it.
[* Longitude worked back 141° 20' E.]
CHART of the N. and W. Parts of BASS'S STRAIT.
[Source: National Library of Australia, map-f482-sd-cd]
"4th. As we stood along the shore steering E. saw the land, as far as we could see, bearing S.E. hauled close up for it. This forming a conspicuous Cape I named it Bridgewater, in honour of the Duke of that title. At seven, little wind and heavy sea. The shore is a sandy beach, from where we made the land to this Cape, and flat land covered with bushes, and large woods inland. Finding we could not weather Cape Bridgewater, tacked occasionally, and got four oars on the lee side, which were employed all night. Baffling light winds from S.S.W. to S.E. with a heavy swell. At day-break in the morning we weathered the Cape six or seven miles, when another Cape appeared bearing E. by N. about fifteen or sixteen miles distant; forming with Cape Bridgewater a very deep bay, and to appearance had shelter for anchorage, though much heavy swell. The land appeared beautiful, rising gradually, and covered with wood. Being anxious to examine whether it was safe to venture in or not, and apprehensive we could not clear the shore, I ordered a boat out, and took two hands with me armed. At this time there was but little wind, but much sea and gloomy weather. After getting in shore about five miles, we found there was not any shelter from S. winds, the water very deep, and apparently the same all the way in. The vessel had now hove to with a fresh wind at W.S.W. and being very likely to blow with rain, we put back. The wind, however, did not stand. While near shore we saw plainly several fires. The sea being still very heavy and no wind, we got the launch ahead to tow. At noon it was a matter of great doubt, whether we should not be forced to anchor, the bay being very deep, we could hardly clear it with a steady breeze. Our latitude was 38° 21' S. Cape Bridgewater then bearing N.W. by W. twelve or thirteen miles. I called the other Cape Nelson after the vessel. At one, a light breeze sprung up, which with the boat ahead got us clear of the shore.
"5th. P.M. light airs, and a very heavy rolling swell setting in upon the shore. Saw several fires. Being rather too far into the Bay, which is deep, I was for some time very doubtful whether we should not be obliged to trust to our anchors. A light breeze springing up, and the boat being ahead towing we got our head to the S. The West Cape I called Bridgewater, as already mentioned, and that to the East, Nelson. This is a very deep Bay, and with S. winds ought carefully to be avoided. Cape Nelson bears from Cape Bridgewater E.N.E. fifteen or sixteen miles. The country is beautiful, apparently a good soil, plenty of grass and fine woods. Towards evening saw many fires a little way inland. Many seals and porpoises about to-day. At six in the evening we had a moderate breeze from S.S.E. Cape Bridgewater bearing N. by E. four leagues, and Cape Nelson E.N.E. distant six leagues. Got in the boats, tacked occasionally during the night, working to windward. At five A.M. saw another Cape not unlike the Dedman in the English Channel; it runs a considerable way into the sea. When to the W. it appears like a long barn, arched on the top, with a high bluff, and next the sea resembling the gable-end of a house. I named this land Sir William Grant's Cape. Off this Cape are two small islands, the largest appears like two, having two hummocks joined together by a neck of low land, which is not seen till pretty close. On approaching, the smaller island is seen a little nearer the shore. These I called Lawrence's Islands, after Captain Lawrence, one of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House. As they will be an excellent mark for making this part, and save much trouble to those who have not an opportunity to keep far enough to the N. to make Cape Northumberland, and being very remarkable, navigators will know where they are as they draw abreast of them. The largest being to the S. with its two hummocks, its outer end from the shore appears like a square-topt tower very high with a white spot in the middle of it, which I suppose proceeds from birds. The other end is also very high. This island appears exactly, as here described, when it bears N. or N. by W. ½W. when there is an offing of ten or twelve miles from it. Lawrence's Islands bear from Cape Sir William Grant S.E. or S.E. by S. twelves miles distant, and there appears no danger between them and the shore. The Cape now loses its long form as the vessel gets to the E. and its particular shape which was discernible when to the W. changes to a high bluff point, steep and inaccessible. The land round it is moderately high with much wood. Many fires were seen about this Cape. The land from it runs to the N. as far as the eye can reach or discern from the mast-head. I wished much for the wind from the N. that I might explore the land, as I think there must be harbours in it, but having it light from the S.S.E. varying every quarter of an hour to E.S.E. I could not throw away time in atempting it. The bottom of the Bay is hardly discernible from the masthead.
"6th, P.M. light breezes and cloudy weather; tacked occasionally keeping the shore on board. At three, made a considerable large island, high and inaccessible on all sides. It was covered with grass but no trees. This island bears about E.S.E. from Cape Sir William Grant. By a good observation at noon following, I made its latitude to be 38° 29' S. longitude by my account, reckoning from Cape Northumberland, (which I suppose is in 142° E. of Greenwich) I make 144° 40' E. it bearing from me when the observation was taken N.N.W. distant eighteen or twenty miles, my latitude observed being 38' 45' S. I named this island Lady Julia's, in honour of Lady Julia Percy. Observed we ran faster along the land than our distance by log gave us, owing probably to a considerable drift to the E.
"7th. By the mean of four azimuths and amplitudes the variation is 2° 50' E. We had now fresh breezes and cloudy weather; we ran under a commanding sail during the night, the wind at S.S.W. and S.W. At day-light we saw the land making a Cape ahead, hauled up to clear it. This Cape is due E.S.E. with a moderate offing from Cape Sir William Grant, distant by log seventy miles. It is the E. promontory of this deep and extensive Bay, I named it Cape Albany Otway, in honour of William Albany Otway, Esq. Captain in the Royal Navy, and one of the Commissioners of the Transport Board. Another very high and considerable Cape bearing from the last E.S.E. I called Patton's Cape. It is distant from Cape Albany Otway eight or ten miles, E.N.E. half E. I also distinguished the Bay by the name of Portland Bay, in honour of his Grace the Duke of Portland. The land is here truly picturesque and beautiful, resembling very much that about Mount Edgecumbe near Plymouth, which faces the Sound. It abounds in wood, very thick groves, and large trees.* It is moderately high but not mountainous. We did not see any fires on it, probably from the shore being inaccessible, and much surf breaking on it. From Cape Albany Otway E.N.E. ten or twelve miles is another Point of Land, which appears as a vessel rounds the former Cape to the E. It is rather high land, with a clump of trees, as if regularly planted on its brow. Thinking from its projection we could find anchorage under it, and as we had a commanding breeze at W.S.W. I bore in pretty close; but as we approached I found several heavy breakers at least six miles from the shore, but not a rock to be seen: I therefore hauled off, and named the point of land, Cape Danger. In getting to the E. I could not find any shelter, nor any place where there was a likelihood of anchoring; but from the number of little juts, and low points of land further to the N. and E. I was determined to try if any such place could be got. I never saw a finer country, the valleys appeared to have plenty of fresh water meandring through them. At eleven A.M. I ordered the boats out, manned and armed, and went in search of a place to land on or anchor in. We got within a cable's length and an half of the shore, but finding the surf breaking heavy, I deemed it not prudent to attempt landing. The shore was a sandy beach, with small rocks interspersed here and there. In trying for soundings, with a hand lead line, none could be found; so that I really think the beach is steep also. I was very much disappointed in being so near, and obliged to return on board without setting foot on this beautiful spot. It resembles the Isle of Wight as near as possible in its appearance from the water; I therefore called this part of the coast, (which falls into the bottom of the small Bay from Cape Danger to the very low land, which is distinguished by a long ridge of breakers off it,) Wight's Land, in honour of Captain Wight of the Royal Navy, son-in-law to Commissioner Schank. On our return we got the boats in, and by observation I found the latitude to be 38° 52' S. about eight miles from the shore; Cape Danger bearing N.N.W. distant ten or twelve miles.
[* Mr. Black, in the Harbinger, was close in with the land, and describes it nearly the same as Lieutenant Grant. P.G.K.]
"8th. At half past twelve P.M. bore away from the land, the wind being W.S.W. At one, having got sufficient offing, made sail to the eastward. At eight P.M. Cape Albany Otway bearing W. eighteen or twenty miles, we made a very high and lofty Cape covered with trees to the water's edge, as is all the country round it. From this Cape the land breaks short round to the northward, when I lost it. We had now a fair wind, and might have done a great deal during the night, but I had my doubts whether this land, which fell off to the northward, should not have been followed and kept on board; as from a small chart given to me by Sir Joseph Banks, I found that as far as the coast had been surveyed, the land trained off to the northward, in the same form nearly as it did here from Cape Patton, with this difference, that the Cape I allude to on the chart had several islands lying off from it. Neither did the latitude exactly correspond; and the land which it laid down, running to the northward, was low and bushy, whereas that which I saw was high with large forests of trees, and no islands near it. I therefore chose the middle road; made snug sail; and ran sixty miles E. judging, if it was a Bay, I should see the eastern extremity of it. At day-light, however, we could see nothing anywhere from the mast-head but the looming of the land we had left. We now bore up and ran N. by W. and at six, we saw the land again ahead, forming a very deep Bay, which I could not see the bottom of from the mast-head.* At eight, the land was observed bearing from us E.S.E. extending farther to the southward than I could see. Being now certain of our route, I hauled up E.S.E. and named this Bay after Governor King. It is one of the longest we have yet met with; Cape Albany Otway forms the westernmost, and the South Cape the easternmost head-lands, the distance of about 120 miles due E.S.E. At noon it fell calm, the sun very sultry. Observed in 39° 30' S. mercury at 75° and 74°.
[* If such a deep Bay as this actually exists, it favours the idea of New South Wales being insulated by a Mediterranean Sea. However, this the Lady Nelson must determine in the Voyage she is now gone upon. P.G.K.]
"9th, P.M. light airs inclining to calm. At four P.M. we saw several islands bearing E.S.E. the main land seemed to have an opening in it to the northward of them, which we stood in for, but I found it was another Bay with low land. This Bay runs in nearly E. I named the northernmost Cape after my friend John Liptrap, Esq. of London. The main land now shewed extending a considerable way to the southward, with several islands off the Cape. Judging this was the point of land we looked for from the colour of the water, we sounded, and had fifty fathoms with fine sand, South Cape distant nine or ten miles. The land abreast of the ship appearing to be at no great distance off, and it being quite calm, I got the boats out, and sent the launch ahead to tow. Thinking I should have the pleasure of setting my foot on this fine country, I set off in the gig with two hands, ordering the vessel to tow in after me, and should a breeze spring up to get the launch in, and stand after me in for the Bay. At noon I sounded again in forty-one fathoms, sand and shells. The weather still calm and hazy. We pulled in shore for some islands lying off from the main, at the western side of the South Cape, making for the largest of them which appeared to be the most fertile, on it I meant to have sowed some seeds, which I took with me, should I be able to land. The distance I could not have believed was so great as it proved to be; at least twelve miles from where we quitted the vessel, which we lost sight of before getting near the shore. Although we had not a breath of wind we found it impossible to land on this side, the shore being very steep, and a heavy surf running on it. Therefore as the ship was not in sight, and as it was two P.M. I judged it prudent to get back as soon as possible, which we effected by four o'clock. We had now a light breeze from the E. and the weather intolerably close and sultry, the mercury standing at 72° and 3'. Got the boats in, and made sail to the southward. At seven, the wind at E. freshened into a strong gale, and at eight it blew a thunderstorm with much heavy forked lightning; but it being a weather shore, we kept close at the wind, in order to get to the southward of the islands lying off this Cape, when on a sudden it shifted due W. very dark, with heavy rain and lightning, which continued all night, the wind abating about twelve o'clock. In the morning it was calm with hot sultry weather. At noon I had a good observation in latitude 39° 30' S. The South part of the main, or South Cape bearing N.W. by N. distant twenty miles, and the longitude 147° 18' from a good lunar observation taken on the 8th instant. All round the Western side, and even thus far South of the Cape, there are soundings of fifty fathoms, forty-five and forty; white sand and shells. I called that space between Cape Liptrap and the South Cape, King George's Sound; and I have no doubt but there is good anchorage in the bite to the northward of the South Cape, on the westward side of which Cape Liptrap makes the northern head. The land here is high, and the mountains covered with wood. Cape Liptrap is low and flat, as is the land in this Bite, where I suppose there is shelter. There is an island bearing from the western part of the South Cape, South, a little easterly, about twelve miles from the shore. It is round and inaccessible on all sides. The abovementioned island I called Rodondo, from its resemblance to that rock, well known to all seamen in the West Indies. A set of breakers to the southward and eastward of that rock, on which, though calm, the sea breaks much, bearing now from us N.N.W. & W. distant six miles. To the eastward there are five islands, the largest of which from its resemblance to the Lion's Mount at the Cape of Good Hope, I called Sir Roger Curtis's Island, who then commanded on that station. It is high and inaccessible on the N.W. side, and covered with small bushes on the top. The body of this island bearing from us E.S.E. distant seven or eight miles. Two other islands like hay-cocks, only higher and more perpendicular, standing a considerable distance from each other, the largest of which bore from us S.E. ¼S. distant sixteen or seventeen miles, and the other S.E. by E. about ten miles. The latter is nearly shut in with the S.E. end of Sir Roger Curtis's Island. The fourth is a rock, standing a considerable height out of the water, nearly in a position between the two hay-cocks, or rather sugar-loaf-like islands, bearing S.E. ¼S. The fifth is a high perpendicular barren cliff, which as we got almost abreast formed like two islands joined together at the bottom, rising to a sharp edge, ragged at the top, and resembling a large tower or castle. This island I named the Devil's Tower. It bore from us E. by N. about ten or twelve miles. An island in with the shore was observed, it bore W.N.W. distant ten miles; I called it Moncur's Island, in compliment to Captain Moncur of the Royal Navy: and another was visible bearing N. by E. sixteen or seventeen miles. Land, apparently an island, to the southward and eastward we can just see from the mast-head. It may be necessary to observe, that these bearings were taken at noon, and as it was then a stark calm the vessel was nearly stationary. By a good observation the latitude was 39° 30', longitude 147° 18' E. calculated from lunar observation two days before; but I take it to be correctly 147° E. from my making the Ramhead, according to the best charts; therefore the bearings are laid down in my chart from 147° E.
"We now having made the Cape, which I presume is that laid down in the chart I got from Sir Joseph Banks, seen by Mr. Flinders,* any farther observation is unnecessary, as I find the land training along to the northward exactly as it is described by him.
[* Mr. Bass, (from whose authority Lieutenant Flinders has ascertained the position of Wilson's Promontory) places it in 38° 56' S. Lieutenant Grant in 39° 17'**; and Mr. Black in 39° 8'. As Mr. Bass's latitude is by computation from the Whale Boat, which might be liable to error, I think a preference may be given to Lieutenant Grant's position, as he had the advantage of a good Sextant. P.G.K.]
[** The latitude of Wilson's Promontory I afterwards determined to be 39° 2' S. but this will appear hereafter in its proper place.]
"Wilson's Promontory was so named by Mr. George Bass, of his Majesty's ship Reliance, who was the first navigator that ascertained the real existence of a Strait separating Van Dieman's Land from New Holland, in his voyage in a whale boat, from Sydney to Western Port. Having made it, I set of in one of my boats early in the morning of the 10th, to endeavour to land on one of the islands lying off it; but, after a long pull, found the one I judged from its sloping aspect to be the easiest for that purpose, a solid rock for a considerable height, with surf too powerful for such a small boat as mine. After several fruitless attempts I was obliged to abandon the idea, contenting myself with taking a view of it, and those contiguous. One of them was an immense rock; on one side perfectly round, with a large hole in the other, in the form of an arch, with a breastwork rising high enough above the level of the sea to preclude the water from getting into it: the hollow appeared as if scooped out by Art instead of Nature. I gave it the name of the Hole in the Wall; and to the range of islands stretching along the main, Glennie's Islands, after Mr. George Glennie, a particular friend of Captain Schank's, to whom I was under personal obligations. On the summit of all these islands there was a thick brush growing, whereas the land of Cape Liptrap, already mentioned, exhibited a fine level country. The day being far spent in this survey, I deemed it best to get on board, as the vessel was but just visible with her head towards us, and becalmed. Round the Promontory we found from forty-five to fifty fathoms water, sand and shells. Towards night we had the wind E.S.E. with heavy clouds which brought on, with a sudden shift to N.E. and N.E. by N. a heavy squall, accompanied with much lightning and heavy rain. It cleared up at twelve; and in the morning we had calm weather.
"On the 12th we had fresh gales and cloudy weather; the shore we were running along was low and covered with thick brush, training in a N.E. direction, which Messieurs Flinders and Bass have given very accurate descriptions of. The weather being very rainy with fresh gales, I was prevented from ascertaining our latitude by observation."
The heavy gales with constant rain prevailed on the following day, which continued until noon of the 14th, when it moderated, and became fair at times. This rain had continued to pour in torrents the heaviest and longest I ever experienced, being nearly forty-eight hours. At noon I had a sight of the sun, and found by observation our latitude to be 37° 13' S. longitude 151° 40' E. I now found we had got to the E. of Port Jackson, as Sydney Town, or rather Bradley's Point, where the Fort stands, from several sets of lunar observations is found to lie in longitude E. of Greenwich 151° 18' 8"; latitude 33° 51' 28" S. The weather continued thick with S. and S.W. gales, which made me, owing to these, delay some time for fear of overshooting Port Jackson, as these S.W. winds sometimes blow long and heavy; besides, objects on shore are not easily distinguished except when close. Governor King had taken the precaution of leaving a letter for me at the Cape, describing the particular marks for knowing the entrance of the Port, which no doubt saved us much trouble. They consisted of a pedestal and flag-staff erected on the S. head or left-hand side of the entrance, and when vessels are seen the flag is hoisted. This land being high, as is also the N. head, may be seen at a considerable distance in a clear day. Botany Bay being the first opening that attracted our notice, we made the best of our way in the afternoon of the 16th to the northward, and soon after saw the flag-staff as described by Governor King. At six in the evening we entered between the Heads of Port Jackson. From the violence of the weather we found much swell in going in, but were soon in smooth water and an excellent harbour, perhaps, one of the finest in the known world. As the wind was from the S. and contrary to getting into Sydney Cove, we were obliged to beat up to it, and at half past seven in the evening we let go our anchors in eight fathoms water, after a voyage of seventy-one days from the Cape of Good Hope; and with the satisfaction of being the first vessel that ever pursued the same track across that vast ocean; as we have no traces of its being done, particularly from the Island of Amsterdam, viz. between the degrees of latitude 38° and 39°½S. until the Lady Nelson made the Coast of New Holland in latitude 38°, and steering to the eastward along a tract of land nearly four degrees to the westward of any seen by Messieurs Bass and Flinders; the former being the only one who had visited any part of that coast to the westward of Wilson's Promontory; Mr. Flinders' survey being more particularly attached to the S. side of those Straits (now deservedly named Bass's Straits,) along Van Dieman's Land. I now reflect with much pleasure that I had conducted my little vessel safely out, which many judged impracticable, both in England and at the Cape, without any damage either in rigging, masts, or spars; besides fulfilling the Duke of Portland's orders to search for a passage through these Straits. Many able officers and seamen at the Cape thought it too hazardous an attempt in running down the land in such high southern latitude, where in general heavy S.W. winds are constantly blowing, and where I might, from the long range of coast, not be able to extricate myself. The old beaten track to Port Jackson from the westward to the eastward was strongly recommended; as by that I should not be so liable to be baffled with westerly winds in any discoveries I should afterwards go upon in the Straits. The peevish and ignorant railed altogether at the attempt in such a vessel to make the voyage to New South Wales; and scrupled not to say we should have a long drift of it, as it was impossible to run or scud, the sea being too heavy for such a purpose. Many of these men had been to New South Wales, and ought therefore to have known better, more particularly, as in the passage to the Cape of Good Hope from England, there is in winter, and in the neighbourhood of the Cape, as heavy weather and sea as in any part of the known world. Having however conquered all these difficulties of imagination, I felt thankful to God for the great success we had met with, and the protection he had shewn us throughout the whole voyage. Governor King had been expecting us for some time, as I had written to him from the Cape of Good Hope by the Porpoise, which left that place for New South Wales before us.
To the stranger the harbour of Port Jackson appears pleasing and picturesque, as he advances up it to the town. A small island with a house on it, named Garden Island, (which afterwards became my residence) enriches the view. On the main is Walamoola, so named by the natives, a rural situation, where Mr. Palmer, the Commissary, has built a large and commodious house, and bestowed much labour in cultivating the land round it. Such a house in so young a Colony excites a degree of surprise in a new comer. The town of Sydney is much larger and more respectable that can well be imagined considering the time it has been built. The streets are by order made broad and strait; each house is generally separated from the adjoining ones, an excellent regulation in case of fire; few or any are without gardens; and many of the houses are large and commodious. When I landed I found that the heavy rain, which I had experienced some days before, had been equally felt here. The Hawkesbury River had been swelled almost instaneously to the great annoyance of the Settlers on its banks. Various were the causes assigned for the rapid increase of water; some supposed it owing to the bursting of a cloud in the mountains, which hurried the water down the level country; others to the overflowing of a lake or morass, which augmented the currents of all the neighbouring rivers, for that at Paramatta had also overflown its banks to a very great height, as I afterwards was shewn by Dr. Thompson, now the Resident Colonial Surgeon, as almost to be supposed impossible.
Paramatta, which is the name given by the natives to what was at first called Rose Hill, is a very pretty village; and from what I could judge, much preferable in point of soil to Sydney. The Government House stands at the end of a street, nearly an English mile in length, making a very fine appearance. There is an excellent garden adjoining to it, well stocked with vegetables and fruit trees; amongst which the peach and fig were large and fine. All the houses had gardens to them well cultivated, the soil of which is good. The Rev. Mr. Marsden, Clergyman to the Colony, has his residence here. That Gentleman while I was here was indefatigable in superintending the building of a small neat church. The first that was erected was at Sydney, but it was unfortunately burnt down; Divine Service was therefore obliged to be performed in a Store cleared out for the purpose in that town; but as from its excellent harbour and increase of houses and population it will always remain the Seat of Government, the church will, no doubt, be rebuilt in a durable manner.
The houses of the Convicts in general are constructed with wattles, covered with shingles, and plaistered inside and out with clay, over which they put a coat of lime, burnt from shells, giving them a very neat and clean appearance. It is seldom that two families inhabit one dwelling, therefore every man becomes absolutely master of his house, and when he can afford it, he weather-boards and paints it. In the smallest dwelling I entered, I never saw less than two apartments. Many houses are constructed with bricks, and as well finished to the eye as European buildings; in such the apartments are numerous. In short, from the very comfortable manner these people are lodged, (much more so than the poorer sort in England,) I cannot avoid remarking, that it no doubt has a tendency to promote the great degree of health and flow of spirits I observed them possessed of, and readily accounts for many wishing to remain, whose years of banishment have expired.
The stores for the Colony which I bad brought out being all landed, and delivered into his Majesty's Store-house at Sydney; and the Seamen having fulfilled their agreement were paid their wages, and discharged, by order of the Governor, on the 31st of December, in presence of the two Civil Magistrates, William Balmain, and John Harris, Esquires. It will not be wondered if I felt a regret at parting with the companions of my voyage, more particularly those, who from fidelity and attention had recommended themselves to my notice. I had now performed my duty to the Honourable Commissioners of the Transport Board, who allowed me and my crew a very handsome compensation, which the latter received, but I did not, as Governor King had no orders respecting it being given to me: I was therefore left without cash in a place where it was absolutely necessary.
The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty had been pleased, previous to my sailing from England, to appoint me Lieutenant to his Majesty's armed vessel Supply at New South Wales. On my arrival, I found her laid up as a hulk, and unfit for sea. I was therefore, to make use of a sailor's phrase, completely adrift. The thirst for discovery, which I was always attached to, and a request of Governor King's to remain in the Lady Nelson, induced me to accept of lower pay than I was entitled to as a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy; more particularly so, as there was not a person in the Colony to be found sufficiently acquainted with a vessel of this construction. Besides, I did not wish the service to suffer from delay; and that no blame should be attached to me, I agreed to it with less emoluments, according to situation, than the other officers and seamen, they being paid according to the regular naval establishment. I bad hopes that any difference or loss I might sustain, would perhaps be made up to me on representation to the Right Honourable His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, which, I am happy to say, has since been done. One circumstance I did not much like, which was the detaching myself from the naval service, which put promotion in that line, (though employed in the service of my country,) out of my reach; but Governor King had promised that he would take care it should not interfere with that; and I am sensible of his having taken some steps to that effect.
Matters being thus arranged, I received the Governor's appointment to the command of the Lady Nelson on the 1st of January 1801. Such convicts as were free, or others who applied and were deemed worthy, were entered on board of the vessel; and for encouragement were conditionally emancipated. Two only of my old crew chose to enter; the rest refusing on account of the wages, which were small in comparison to what the merchant vessels, then in the harbour, and in want of hands, gave. Amongst the convicts that entered, I found some of the most dissatisfied, idle and worthless characters, who came on purpose to avoid Government labour, or in hopes of getting off from it. Many complaints were made by these wretches to the Governor who failed not to remove them, but generally to my loss, as I was repeatedly robbed by them. I endeavoured by every means in my power to admonish and encourage them to do well, but finding it impossible, I was obliged to punish a fellow for theft by giving him twelve lashes. So great was the force of bad example, that one of the young men who came out with me was guilty of the same crime, and was also punished. I am happy to think this was attended with the best effect, though some insinuations were preferred against me, by designing people, for what was indispensably necessary, in keeping up a proper authority on board, however reluctant it was to my feelings. To blame me, or to attempt to lessen my consequence in the eyes of the crew on that occasion, by slander, reverts upon those who were the cause, and such as listened to it: and this will appear the more extraordinary, as they well knew the vessel was under martial law, the same as any other in his Majesty's service. To all who are acquainted with the spirit of discipline and subordination, it is needless to say, that I felt the baneful influence, more or less, during the time I commanded the Lady Nelson. The having the vessel manned at all by convicts I could not approve of; but it could not be well remedied without incurring a very great expence to Government.
On the 11th of January arrived the Harbinger brig, Mr. Black, commander, from the Cape of Good Hope. I have before mentioned this Gentleman's name, having fallen in with a prize of his at sea, previous to my arrival at the Cape. This Gentleman followed me through the Streights, and of that part of the land he saw, he gave nearly the same description as I had given to Governor King. He did not fall in with the land so far to the westward as I did, but made it about Cape Albany Otway and Cape Patton.* He also saw an island in the Straits to the southward of this land of considerable magnitude, which he named King's Island after Governor King.
[* See Chart.]
On the 7th of February arrived the brig Margaret from England, commanded by Mr. Byers. He also made his passage through the Straits, and fell in with the land a little to the eastward of where I did, making the latitude nearly in 38° 20', about Cape Bridgewater. This Gentleman also agreed with me very nearly in the figure of the Coast and description of it. He did not keep the coast all the way through on board, owing to the wind he was obliged to run to the southward. However, so far as both these Gentlemen had seen of the coast we agreed, only differing in position; though not more than what might be expected after long passages, from different reckonings or judgments. It had, however, the good effect, that it realized the land I brought in, beyond all manner of doubt, to the westward of Wilson's Promontory, and Western Port, which was the farthest point to the westward that Mr. Bass had proceeded to.— Some who pretended to doubt my having seen the extent of coast which I did, and who were constantly inveighing against my vessel, now found themselves completely triumphed over, and saved me much trouble on account of the character of my worthy friend and patron, whom I vindicated. Conscious of the truth of my statements, both respecting the vessel and the object of it, I at last contented myself with being silent to the mean attempts of the malevolent and ignorant.
Governor King having appointed Garden Island for the purpose of raising vegetables for the crew of the Lady Nelson, I accordingly took possession of it. There was the shell of a tolerable house on it, which required much repair to make it habitable. I sent Dr. Brandt, who had volunteered with me at the Cape, with his dog and baboon to the island, as he had no inclination to go again to sea, having been much incommoded with sea sickness during the voyage hither. I therefore judged it would be a good place for him to reside at in my absence, and take charge of my property; a very necessary precaution against nocturnal visitors, who laid hold on and carried off every thing that was portable. As the poor Doctor was obliged to part with every article of provisions I had given him to some of these depredators, who paid him a visit, I applied to the Governor, who very readily issued an order that no person should attempt to land on the Island without his or my leave. This put a stop, in a great measure, to such practices. There not being any fresh water on it, I was obliged to lend the Doctor a small boat, which one person could pull about with a pair of sculls, till I could purchase one for the use of the Island; but, unfortunately the Doctor lost this. One of the young men who came out with me, and who had entered on board another vessel in the harbour, borrowed it from him for the purpose of fishing, leaving the vessel's boat that he came in with his companion till his return. Three days elapsed, and not hearing any tidings of them, the Doctor became very uneasy. I set on foot every enquiry, but without effect; and what vexed me much, was, that the young man was one of those who had run off with the same boat at Port Praya. I offered a reward to any one who would give me information of the boat; and though the weather was very bad, I was under the necessity of sending my first-mate round to Hawkesbury River with another in search of it. I also formed the resolution of walking to Pittwater, which joins the Hawkesbury, and branches inland a considerable way, affording many little Creeks and Coves, where the natives assemble at times to fish.
On the 25th of February I set out, the weather thick and cloudy, accompanied by a soldier of the New South Wales Corps, one of my own people, a native and his wife, as guides. Ensign Bareillier, of the same Corps, volunteered going in the boat with the mate. The path I took was intricate, but very romantic. As it rained hard towards evening, my guide halted near a wood, taking us to a place where two old men were sitting by a fire, and which had the appearance of several others having been there very recently. This temporary habitation was formed by a rock overhanging the place they were seated on, and called by them Gablegunnie, being the term for the hut, or the House of the Rock. The two men did not seem to receive us with any particular marks either of friendship or indifference; and from what I afterwards learned they were both doctors, which probably induced my guide to visit them, as his back had been much hurt, and he was troubled with a difficulty of breathing. They gave us from a bag-net a few fish they had gathered off the rocks; but on removing the skin, (which is used by them as bait in fishing,) they smelt so offensive that we could not eat them. I gave them some bread in return, and we parted well pleased with each other. They told us that a little farther on there was a party of natives employed in fishing, who had two huts built near a long sandy beach. As the night was likely to be very dark with heavy rain, I intended, if possible, to shelter ourselves with them. Our guide was so ill, that he appeared incapable of going on with us, and promised to get one of them to accompany us to Pittwater. I could not help remarking the acuteness of sight which these people possess even in the dark to a wonderful degree; as also of hearing. As we approached the huts we found two canoes left on the sand; and as we proceeded through the bushes, the woman with us asked me, if I saw a black fellow, pointing farther among the bushes. I stopped and looked, but could see no one, the night being exceedingly dark. We were immediately challenged from the bushes in the native language; the soldier with me answered; and we were conducted by the stranger to the huts. He had been down at the canoes for some fish, and on his return saw us; after depositing them, he came to reconnoitre who we were, at which time the woman observed him. He had told his comrades of seeing us, and they took the precaution of hiding their fish, as they always do in similar occasions to prevent their being discovered by strangers. The natives are in general very much afraid of walking alone in the dark, unless under the impulse of jealousy, hunger or revenge. On such occasions they will in the night steal on their countrymen whilst asleep, and with an instrument called a dual, made of hard wood and gradually tapering to a point, pin them to the ground, particularly when actuated by jealousy or revenge.
I found the huts larger and better constructed than I had as yet seen or heard of: they were built of timber procured from the wreck of a small vessel, which lay stranded on the shore at no great distance. In one but there were three men, four women and two children; and in the other, which was very small, a a man and his wife. The natives very kindly took from their hiding places some large and excellent fish, such as snappers, and salmon, so called in this country, I presume, from their scales. These they laid whole on the fire, which was placed in the middle of the hut. As soon as one side of the fish was done they placed it on the other, opposite to where I sat, beginning to eat while that was broiling, inviting me by signs to follow their example; which I and my companions readily did, being both hungry and wet, it having rained very hard, and we found ourselves very comfortable. Situated as we were, I could not avoid remarking to myself how easily nature was satisfied; the only thing I wanted being salt. The curiosity of these poor people with respect to many things about us was very great; particularly in observing a head raised in silver on the butt-end of the pistol stuck in my waist-belt; and also in the ticking-noise of my watch, which the women and children wondered much at, mimicking its sound as they held it up to their ears.
Having sent my guide and his wife with the seaman to the small hut, I and the soldier lay down to sleep with our feet to the fire. One of the women was very ill during the night, and groaned much, being seized with spasms in her stomach, as I afterwards understood. In the night-time the soldier was wakened by one of the men, who requested he would go with him to fetch some water. On the former (who understood the language) asking him why he could not go alone, he was answered, "You know me murrey jarrin, that is, much afraid. The soldier being unwilling to stir, asked, "What he was afraid of? The native said, "of the Bogle;" the term for the Evil Spirit, or Devil; which shews that superstition is very predominant amongst them. As I wished for some water, I desired the man to get up and bring me some, which he did in a small vessel shaped like a canoe, made of bark, the native accompanying him.
We got up before day-light, and having taken one of our hospitable friends for a guide, who was both more robust, and stronger than the natives are in general in this part of New Holland, he armed himself with a spear, and moved onwards with us till we came near to the banks of a stream, which the natives call Narrowbine. It was but barely peep of day, and objects were not easily distinguishable, yet the native informed me he saw somebody on the opposite side. As we proceeded on we soon perceived a person walking by the river side, but could not ascertain whether he was a native or not. Our guide, however, on enquiry said, that is, "no black fellow", and that he had a musket with him. Some of the Convicts having about this time absconded and taken with them the Norfolk sloop, with an intention of leaving the country, were cast ashore, but a short distance to the northward. They had been daring enough to attack and seize a settler's boat going to the Coal River; and as many of these people were still out, I made no doubt but he was one of them. The stream from the rain which had fallen during the night, and the tide of flood being in, as it was in the vicinity of the sea, was become deeper and more rapid than common, and had obstructed the fellow's progress. I called to him, and asked who he was, and where he was going? He answered, that he had been Kangarooing, had lost his way, and was almost starved. From the latter circumstance I was certain he was one of the Convicts, and therefore I desired him to stop, as I was going over, and would shew him the best place to cross at, which he had enquired for. While we were stripping, I desired the native, who was in a state of nature, that, if he saw the fellow attempt to get way, he would stop him, and should he offer any resistance, to spear him. The river was so deep that it came up to his chin; and as he was taller than any of us, we were under the necessity of leaving our clothes behind, and making two trips, in order to keep our fire-arms from the wet, which was not an easy matter, being obliged to carry them over our heads. The bottom of the river was very rugged with sharp-pointed rocks, which made us stumble and cut our feet; however we got over. The poor creature gave himself up to me without condition, confessing he was one of the party who ran away with the Norfolk. At this moment he presented a most pitiable sight, being literally almost starved, and had he got across the Narrowbine, he never would have been able to reach Sydney. As to the musket, instead of being of any service to him, it was rather an incumbrance, as it was totally unfit for use. His comrades and he had endured the greatest misery and distress through hunger and fatigue. On being informed that some of them were taken and executed, he burst into tears, and said he was sure nothing could save him. He had a wound in his leg, which he got from a species of scate called a Sting Ray. In attempting to kill it in a shallow stream it had found its way into, it threw the sting, (which in large ones is sometimes eight or nine inches in length, indented like a saw,) through the calf of his leg. The fatigue of walking, and the scratching of the bushes had inflamed it to a great degree: his feet were also wounded and ulcerated from rocks and stumps of trees. In short, he was so wretched and helpless, that I directed my two companions to support him between them to Pittwater, where my boat was to meet me. The little bread I had remaining, bad as it was from the wet it had met with, was devoured by him with avidity; and this, with a little spirits I had left, recruited him He shewed me the place where he had lain all night, on a few branches spread under a tree, without fire, and exposed to the heavy rain. On being asked where he had left his companions, he said, that himself and two others of the party, had left the remainder near Port Stephens, which is some considerable distance to the northward of the Hawkesbury; that they had some intention of forming a settlement there, until something should turn up favourable for them; that they had planted a few pumpkin and melon-seeds, and some Indian corn, which had come up, but was insufficient for the support of seven or eight persons. The ring-leader, who was there, had determined not to return. This man had been very ill with an intermitting fever, which indeed had been experienced more or less by all of them; and it was his intention, and that of two others, who left the place, to return and give themselves up; but one of them being very ill, he quitted him and his companion, who chose to remain with the sick man, on the other side of Pittwater. They had suffered much from hunger, living principally on the cabbage-tree; and he affirmed, that when they fell in with the natives, they behaved very ill to them; that indeed from some they got a fish or two; but that others, instead of assisting them, took away what rags of clothing they had left. This last circumstance is, in my opinion, rather improbable, for unless it be a blanket, I have never known any of the natives express even a wish for any article of clothing. On being asked how he got over Pittwater, he informed me that meeting with one of the natives, then on the banks, whom he knew, he partly through that acquaintance, and partly through the offer of a shirt, prevailed with him to put him across in his canoe; but that he had much ado afterwards to prevent some of them from spearing him, as they all asked him for bread, which they supposed he must have. Whether this was true or not with respect to his adventures, it is a fact that all the natives about the Settlement, or at a distance, who have tasted bread, are very fond of it, and always ask for it. No doubt the general keen state of their appetites may be a powerful incentive at the time they desire it; and it is not improbable that some of those he met with, being hungry, and encouraged by his helpless appearance, might endeavour to terrify him with the spear. The gun he had in his hand, he believed, prevented them from putting their threats in execution.
After experiencing much difficulty in getting this unfortunate wretch along, we soon discovered our boat by the help of a bugle-horn, two of which I had brought from England with me. These instruments are of the utmost service to all who have to travel through pathless woods, where the sight is intercepted, as they can always be used when a musket cannot. If they are made of different sizes, or of metal and horn, the sound will vary so much as to make it easily known which party they belong to: besides, ammunition will be saved by their use, which is often of the utmost importance. If made of a large size they will serve to carry water in occasionally; and this is often a very acceptable service in woods at a distance from a river. In short, in all business of discovery, these and a few watchmens' rattles, (some of which I also had with me,) will be found very useful. I had agreed to meet the boat at a certain part of Pittwater, but as neither my mate nor I had ever seen it, and our guides being little acquainted with the spot, I had recourse to the bugle. I was answered from the boat with the same instrument about a mile and an half distance from us. I hope this will fully illustrate the superior usefulness of the bugle-horn in respect to the musket (a signal which might have misled us as being used on other occasions); besides which the former, not only from the sound itself, but from the long continuance of it, has the best chance of being heard. My officer had made very diligent search for the boat taken from Garden Island, but without success. The poor runaway Convict was put into the boat, and supplied with food, which from the manner he began to devour it, I was obliged to give him very sparingly. The boat party had suffered much from the rain during the night, as well as from the heavy sea they were exposed to in their passage. We kindled a fire on the bank of the river, where we breakfasted. Pittwater is very broad at this place, dividing itself into several branches, which made a strict search for the boat very troublesome. I ordered the mate up to a small island, named Mullet Island, (perhaps from the great plenty of fish of that name in its vicinity,) giving him orders to examine the shore carefully on each side, and make enquiry of the natives or settlers that he might meet with. I concluded any farther search after this would be unnecessary, as above the island the boat would be discovered and secured. Ensign Bareillier preferred walking back with me and my party. We made an excursion to the top of Pitt-water, which ends in a mud flat of considerable extent. In the course of our walk we were much annoyed by a small aquatic plant of a conical form growing in clusters, with sharp points peeping through the mud. These, and innumerable small oyster-shells, washed from their native beds by the tide, fatigued and pained us in an uncommon degree. The before-mentioned plant, from its insignificant appearance, seems to have been but little noticed. It hardly ever exceeds five inches in length, and its thickness differs according to its age, seldom exceeding that of a man's finger. It is of a pale yellow colour on the top, very hard and tapering to a point: the nearest resemblance it has to any plant I know, is the asparagus when peeping through the earth. After searching the banks of the river without success, we proceeded on our return to Sydney; to which we were the rather induced from the small supply of provisions, particularly of bread, which we had procured from the boat. We were also in hopes of again seeing the natives we had met with the night before near the Narrowbine, who would supply us with some fish. The native we had as a guide had been probably induced to accompany us for the sake of getting plenty of biscuit, of which, as already has been mentioned, his countrymen are remarkably fond. As it was not full tide he led us along the sea shore under the heights we had travelled in the morning, and very near a gunnie, or house, which he made us understand was the place of his birth. The flood-tide set in very rapidly, which, with our having to travel over a large range of rocks, much retarded our progress, and from the dashing of the waves against the base I was apprehensive we should not be able to accomplish our intentions, but our guide pushed on, and wherever the passage was difficult or dangerous, he either pointed out the steps we were to take with his spear, or held out his hand to assist us. He always carried some of our things, particularly my boat-cloak. It is but proper for me to observe, that the care and attention of this rude and uncivilized Savage was highly exemplary, and merited our best regards.
Upon our arrival at the spot where we left the natives, to our great disappointment we found they had removed themselves. It was now about three o'clock, P.M. and it was dark about seven. From Rose Bay, where I had ordered the boat to meet us in the morning of the following day, it was nearly five miles to Sydney Cove. The guide, who now became very hungry, seemed as desirous as ourselves of finding the natives. He endeavoured by looking at the paths to find out which they had pursued; accordingly he pitched on that which led to the place where we had before seen the two canoes on the sand; but on reaching the spot they too were gone. As the canoes were not large enough to hold all the people we had seen, he informed us he knew the path the remainder had taken. We accordingly, at his request, walked at a round pace in quest of them, and on our way along the shore he picked up a lump of what appeared to me to be the Epidermis which adheres to rocks, and which the force of the tide had thrown up. It was composed of a glutinous substance and very fetid, yet in this disagreeable state he sucked and eat it. I have seen the Dutch fishermen at the Cape of Good Hope make use of it as bait. In following the track he led us, we penetrated a short distance into the woods. By the time we reached the place to which I had ordered the boat it was nearly dark; but as the natives the guide was searching for could not be a great way off, we were anxious to get to them. In the accomplishment of our purpose he led us through various thickets to places likely to be their haunts; and occasionally set up a kind of howl, at the same time listening if any answer was given. After he had howled thus for some time, we discovered a fire kindled on a height close to the shore, and soon after our guide's howling was answered by similar outcries, and the fire was seen to blaze forth. Here a kind of conversation took place betwixt them; when he informed me that he had told them he was very hungry, and their answer was, that at a short distance from where we then were, another party was to be found which had plenty of fish. Accordingly he conducted us to the spot where the boat was ordered to rendezvous, and giving me my cloak and the other articles, said he would find out his companions: he ascended a height and was soon out of sight. The moon now shewed a little light, having been obscured by clouds, and as a good many showers of rain had fallen during the day, the ground was wet; however, being very tired, we laid ourselves down on the sand, intending to wait till morning, for as to our hungry guide we did not expect his return. In about three quarters of an hour after his leaving us, to my great surprise, we heard the sound of voices approaching us, and it proved to be my first guide and his wife, already mentioned, coming towards us, dispatched by the others to our assistance. They brought with them a fish of about four pounds weight. Here was another trait of the friendly disposition of these poor people worthy of being noticed. Our quondam guide told us, that there had been a boat seen with two white men fishing in it a little before it grew dark, a short distance from where we then were. One of my people instantly set off with him in search of the boat, and soon after we heard the noise of oars in the water. In this boat were a man and boy going to the southward a fishing; but from the unsettled state of the weather, they chose to remain for the night near the harbour's mouth, that they might be ready to push out in the morning. They readily undertook, for a small gratuity, to pull us up to my house on Garden Island; and having taken leave of the friendly natives, we pushed off; and I got home about eleven o'clock at night.
The officer commanding the boat which went in search of the fugitives, gave me warning of his approach at seven the next morning by sounding his bugle-horn. His success was similar to mine: he picked up another unfortunate young man of the party which ran off with the Norfolk sloop, in the same starved condition as the one I had found. He gave an account of his having remained with another of the runaways till he expired. On my giving them up to Governor King, I stated to him in how submissive and penitent a manner they had surrendered themselves to my party; and that had we not fallen in with them, it was their intention to return. As an example to the Settlement they were tried, and were condemned to suffer death; but the Governor was most humanely pleased to pardon them, on account, no doubt, of their sufferings. Two of the most daring of the same gang had some little time before suffered death.—The youngest of those that were pardoned, served afterwards on board the Francis schooner, and on my return from a cruize, came and offered his services to me in the Lady Nelson, which shewed his gratitude, but I declined accepting them.
It being now determined by Governor King that we should again visit the Straits we had passed through on our voyage from England, and which had deservedly obtained the name of Bass's Straits, after Mr. George Bass, late Surgeon to his Majesty's ship Reliance, that Gentleman having first entered them in a Whale Boat to the eastward, and discovered a harbour to the westward of Wilson's Promontory; (most probably the southernmost point of New Holland;) which he named, from its relative situation, Western Port; as from Sydney it was the westernmost extent of the Strait known on the north side. It was, however, reserved for the Lady Nelson completely to ascertain the extent of the Strait, she sailing along the land nearly four degrees to the westward of Western Port, as will be seen by the CHART annexed to this Volume.
I had before received an order from the Governor to send on shore several articles, principally arms, among which were included some brass carriage-guns; four of which were put into the Store, with an equal proportion of every other description of arms. The reason, as I understood, for this was, that if the vessel was lost Government would be the less a sufferer. Shrewd as this kind of reasoning may appear to many, I cannot on my own account applaud it. My situation was not enviable, for I had every thing to risk by the responsibility placed on my shoulders; and that, as already mentioned, with Colonial instead of Navy pay. Several other circumstances might be here enumerated of a similar nature, but I do not wish to intrude them on my Readers, however galling they were to myself.
In a former part of this narrative I mentioned that my crew was composed (two of my own men excepted,) of Convicts conditionally emancipated; and as a security four privates of the New South Wales Corps were sent on board. These men might be useful both on board, and when we landed in the course of our voyage of discovery. Ensign Francis Bareillier of the same Corps, and who was nominated surveyor to the expedition, and Mr. Cayley, a botanist, also accompanied me. The last-mentioned Gentleman had been sent out by Sir Joseph Banks for the express purpose of collecting plants.
Before I proceed farther in my relation, I must be indulged in remarking, that, although the Lady Nelson had performed a voyage from England to the Cape of Good Hope at a boisterous season of the year, and had sailed from thence to New South Wales in unknown seas, and high southern latitudes, yet doubts and hints were thrown out that she was not a safe vessel, and was unfit for the service she was going upon. What rendered this the more unpleasing to me was, that it came from a quarter, whence such-like stumbling-blocks ought not to have been expected to be thrown in my way. What the vessel was capable of performing is since fully ascertained, and that to the entire conviction of all unbelievers.
It is true that the winter season of that climate was fast approaching; and therefore instead of exploring to the southward we ought to have gone to the northward, by which means we should avoid many tempestuous gales, &c. We might also by that means have ascertained if the Gulf of Carpentaria had any inlet to Bass's Straits; and have by discovery secured more quickly to Great Britain the right of lands, which some of our enterprising neighbours may probably dispute with us. And this, I trust, will not be thought chimerical, when it was not known whether other Straits did not exist, as well as that dividing New Holland from Van Dieman's Land. All which has fallen to the lot of later investigators, and it is probable Captain Flinders has realized my assertion long before this.
The original idea of Captain Schank, who was the cause of the Lady Nelson being sent out, was to have discovered all the territory of New South Wales, and to explore far beyond its limits, leaving the same to be surveyed at a future opportunity by those competent to it. All that I aimed at was making an Eye Sketch of the Coast, and laying it down as accurately as I could, with a Journal of all Occurrences, Natural History, Soil, with such Remarks and Observations as I might be able to make. What I have done is before the Reader; suffice it to say, that all who have since visited the Coast within the Strait, have by their views transmitted home substantiated the annexed Sketch, taken in a single passage out.
Situated as I was in the present instance, I could not throw any difficulties in the way, but rather thought it incumbent on me to shew the vessel was fit for any kind of service, and perfectly safe. Still many advanced contrary doubts and opinions; insomuch that the son of an Officer of the New South Wales Corps, who was intended for the sea service and to be under my care, was persuaded not to embark this trip, but to wait till it was found out what the vessel would do. However, the person who gave the advice has since transmitted to England a most favourable report of her.
On Friday, the 6th of March, we dropped out of Sydney Cove with a light air at S. and came to between Garden and Clarke's Islands, in company with the Bee sloop, or rather decked-boat of 14 or 15 tons burthen. This sloop or boat was fitted up by order of Governor King, to accompany me and be under my command. I anticipated much assistance from such a vessel if she was found equal to stand the sea. Odd as it may appear, the Bee was originally a ship's launch, and raised upon; yet by many she was deemed safer than the Lady Nelson; she was manned by Convicts, one of whom commanded her.
On the 7th, we dropped further down the harbour; but owing to calm weather, were obliged to bring up on the return of the tide. The following day at five A.M. we got clear out of Port Jackson with a light breeze from the N.W. At nine A.M. we stood to the southward. It being my intention to examine Jarvis's Bay in lat. 35° 6, long. 151° E. of Greenwich, lying between Long Nose and Cape St. George, in order to secure a harbour if obliged to run out of the Straits, which would prevent much wear and tear. It would also from its southern situation save time, in case we were obliged to make a port, since we were unacquainted with any nearer than Botany Bay.
9th. We had still a light breeze from N.W. until the evening, when it came on fresh, insomuch that, not wishing to go beyond my intended port, I hove-to, the Bee in company. At four in the morning the wind shifted suddenly to the S. with every appearance of blowing hard, as we had reason to expect at this season of the year, from that quarter or the W. which was directly against us. The winter equinox in this country was also at hand. The Bee had got to the northward of us about half a mile. We both filled and stood on; the wind, as I suspected, continued to freshen, and from meeting the sea, which was before moderately high from the northward owing to the N.W. wind, it became short and troublesome. At six, I perceived the Bee had hove-to. I made her signal to make sail, which not being complied with, I bore up and found her laying-to under a close-reefed main-sail and drag-sail* in the water. The Master informed me he could not carry sail to it; that the sea was too heavy for him, and that he had shipped much water. I advised him to make sail, and try to keep up with me, as I was not willing to lose his company. He did so, but I soon saw that she was not a vessel calculated to be with us; for in getting her round she shipped a considerable quantity of water abreast of her gangway; and if she was obliged to lay-to in the weather we then had, she must founder when it blew hard with a heavy sea. I also found that she had a trick of shipping much water amidships when close hauled. Apprehensive of the weather coming on to blow heavy, I judged it a necessary precaution to write to Governor King, in case she should be obliged to bear up, the reason of her return. I also had no great opinion of the Master's abilities should I be obliged to part with him in an unknown sea, or out of sight of land; as I had sufficient to convince me, while at Port Jackson, that I was responsible for every failure or accident that might happen, let it be ever so unforeseen. Having wrote my letter, I ran close to him, and threw it on board between two pieces of lead. I ordered him to persevere as long as he could; told him I was going into Jarvis's Bay, where he must endeavour to get; but if he found he could not keep the sea, to bear up and return to Sydney. Having arranged this matter, and the wind still increasing at S. and S.S.W. at thirty-five minutes past eleven A.M. I saw her again heave-to; whereupon I made her signal to bear up, and not perceiving her to do so, I bore up myself, apprehensive that some accident might have happened to him. Master informed me that the vessel made water, and shipped so much that he could not carry sail on her, but he would lay-to, till he saw how the weather would turn out, and, if he could, follow me to Jarvis's Bay. I cautioned him against laying-to too long, for the swell had by this time increased considerably, and made a free passage over her. Should it set in to blow a heavy gale he would have difficulty in scudding. Three parts of my crew were sea-sick, and unable to move; and as I bad no man of respectability to spare, I could not furnish the Bee with a person of that description to take her back to Sydney. After giving the Master the best advice I could, I made sail and soon got out of sight. From the recent piracies, I was under some apprehensions they would run off with her, especially as she had four months provisions of every kind, with some arms and ammunition on board. These suspicions partly arose from my knowing that one of her best hands had been concerned in an attempt of the same kind before, for which he was tried and pardoned on condition of serving for life. The little knowledge the Master had of navigation, and the fears the crew entertained of the vessel, it is very probable prevented them, and I was happy on my return to learn that she got back safe. Had any thing happened to her, independent of blame from malicious or designing people alighting on me, her loss would have been felt by the Colony, as she was very useful in carrying corn from the Hawkesbury, and upon other services. At noon had an observation in lat. 34° 55' S. and saw one of the heads of Jarvis's Bay bearing S.W. by S. distant six leagues. After twelve at noon the weather rather moderated, though it still continued very gloomy with a heavy swell. The wind shifted to S.S.E. we continued working to windward.
[* This kind of sail I found particularly useful in laying-to in the Lady Nelson. Its form is generally triangular, and slung like a log-chip, which being made fast to a hawser or stout rope, is veered out through one of the hawse-holes and immersed in the water. It prevents the the vessel falling off much when a heavy sea strikes her on the bow; by which means, if she does not come up very quick again, her beam would be exposed to the next coming sea. It also prevents her drifting much. This will be found particularly useful in small vessels of light draught of water, and flat-bottomed vessels. This sail is well known to the Dutch, who make use of them in their large ships which they send to Batavia.]
At four P.M. of the 10th, the north head of Jarvis's Bay bore W.S.W. eight or nine miles distant. I trust that every impartial reader of this narrative will allow, that since the last setting of the above head-land, and with a strong southerly wind, we got considerably to windward, let whatever faults be attached to the Lady Nelson. The weather getting clear, we worked into Jarvis's Bay, or (from the greatness of its extent,) more properly to be called, Sound. At seven A.M. I sent my first-mate in the boat to look out for a proper place to anchor in, which would afford us good shelter. At nine the mate returned with one of the natives, and informed me that there was good anchorage in the southernmost Cove, between an island and the main; the former sheltering a very extensive harbour lying between the two heads of it, thereby breaking off the heavy swell, which would otherwise roll in with an easterly wind, and which from its extent, and the great fetch of the sea, it would be difficult with such a wind to ride in. At half past ten o'clock we came to an anchor in the above Cove in four fathom water and fine sandy bottom, having first run over a flat of about four cables' length, easily perceived by the colour of the water from the shore when there is any wind, and without any break that we could discover. There was from two and an half to three fathoms water on this flat.
The native which came on board in the boat appeared to be a middle-aged man, more stout and muscular than those I had seen about Sydney. He entered the vessel without any symptoms of fear, and altogether with that confidence, which shewed he had had frequent communications with our countrymen before. He often repeated the words, blanket, blanket, and woman, woman; probably from the barter, which some of these visitors had received in lieu of the seamens bedding. He testified much surprize at several articles on board, particularly the compasses in the binnacle. On my conducting him down into the cabin, and placing him before a looking-glass, he expressed more wonder than I am able to describe by innumerable gestures, attitudes and grimaces. He narrowly examined it to see if any one was behind it; and did not seem satisfied of the contrary, till I unscrewed it from the place it was fastened to. The sound of a small bugle-horn had a very great effect on him, and he endeavoured, by applying it to his own mouth, to make it sound but without effect, which surprized him very much. I forgot to mention that I had on board two natives of Sydney, called Euranabie, and Worogan his wife. These people were also objects of his notice. It is a remarkable circumstance, and as yet has not been accounted for, that the natives of New Holland, be they on ever such good terms together, when they meet after a separation, take little or no notice of each other, perhaps for half an hour or more; making a sign for sitting down with their hands only, if a stranger enters a house. This stranger, whom I had placed near the natives of Sydney, sat by them without saying a word for above half an hour, soon after the expiration of which time, great familiarity took place betwixt them. It appeared evident to me that during the silence the stranger's attention was directed to the woman, though like the rest of her countrywomen she was, according to our notions, far from being possessed of any beauty; however, not only this man, but many other natives, who visited us in this place, thought her very handsome; nor was I surprized at this when I saw some of the females here. Not understanding the language I could not learn the subjects of their conversation, but it appeared as if they did not readily understand each other. From this, and what I discovered in my intercourse with other parties of the natives, I am inclined to think the language of New Holland has its different dialects. The men chewed each other the wounds they had received in war or rencontres; Euranabie had several which were but lately healed up. The stranger, as already mentioned, appearing enamoured of the woman, made overtures to her husband for her, which were rejected. The latter told me he was apprehensive that the people of this part of the island would carry her off, but I assured him they should not be suffered to do so.
Before we got to an anchor several canoes came round us in one of which was an old man, whose hair had become perfectly white with age, which joined to a long beard of the same colour made him a very interesting figure. The natives appeared to pay the old man great respect and obedience, of which I saw more afterwards. When we had brought the vessel to an anchor and had furled our sails, I admitted some of the natives on board, but the old man could not be prevailed on to be of the party. They all testified much surprize at what they saw. All the natives of this part of New Holland are more muscular and robust than those I had seen at Sydney. In the management of their canoes, and some things belonging to them, they differed much from whatever I had seen elsewhere, particularly in paddling, sometimes making use of an oval piece of bark, and at others of their hands, making the canoe go very swiftly by either means. When paddling with the hand they were apt, from its being immersed in the water, to throw more or less water into the canoe, which with a small calibash they dexterously threw out by a backward motion of the other hand without turning their heads. At the heads of their canoes I observed two or three wooden pins, which I supposed were designed to steady their fish-gigs, or to receive the heads of their spears when they carry them from one place to another, or to serve in the same manner as a crutch for a harpoon or lance in one of our whale-boats.
From observing the smoothness of our chins, they all expressed a desire to have their's the same; which some of my people instantly set about, clipping them close with scissars. Not seeing any of these people painted, as is the custom of the Sydney natives, I was desirous of knowing if they were addicted to it; I accordingly got some red paint, which as soon as one of them saw, he immediately made signs for me to rub his nose with it. About our Settlements they are often seen with their noses painted with a red gum, which is plenty thereabouts; and they likewise form a circle nearly round their eyes with a whitish clay. The latter it is said is customary to be used by way of mourning for the death of a friend. They likewise paint themselves when they go out to fight. The women also paint their noses red, and their breasts with a streak of red and white alternately. Having occasion to leave the deck for a while, on my return, I observed one of my young men, (who had contrived to get hold of some of the vessel's paint-pots,) very deliberately painting the man whose nose I had rubbed with red paint, with different colours from head to foot, while he grinned his approbation at the motley appearance he made. His comrades seemed to enjoy it as much as he did, and they quitted the vessel in great glee. This circumstance may by some be thought unworthy of notice, but I relate it merely to shew their disposition and customs, of which I shall have occasion to speak more fully hereafter.
The place we came to anchor abreast of, being a fine sandy beach, favourable for hauling the seine, Mr. Bareillier accompanied me on shore armed. We took Euranabie, the Sydney native, with us. On our landing the natives gathered round us, appearing to have no fear of us. They began a conversation with Euranabie, using many words which seemed to resemble the Sydney dialect, such as Bail, signifying No, and Maun, to take away, or carry off. An elderly man made Euranabie a present of a waddie, or club, which I supposed was done to shew a particular regard. To my great surprize he soon afterwards came up to me with evident marks of fear depicted in his countenance. On being asked the cause of his alarm, he solicited permission to go on board the vessel, as these natives would kill and patter, that is, eat him. I confess I rather doubted this assertion, for I had not the smallest idea of the New Hollanders being cannibals; nor can I even now take it upon me to say they are, though some circumstances, which I shall presently mention, make it appear probable. To relieve the poor fellow from his apprehensions, I immediately sent him on board. This conduct surprized me not a little, for he had been anxious to come on shore with me; but I observed from this time, as long as he remained here, he never again offered to accompany me, though like all his countrymen he was fond of rambling.
We hauled the seine; in doing which the natives, who were very numerous, assisted us unsolicited. We caught a few large whitings, differing in no particular from those we have in our seas, excepting their superior size. I distributed them amongst the natives, reserving only three for our own dinner. Many more having joined us who seemed anxious to get some fish also, I hauled the seine again; and having caught more whitings and small snappers, I gave up the whole without division, not wishing to excite any jealousy, and this I found put an end to all clamour. Their number was so considerable, and had by this time so much encreased, that I began to think that many were concealed amongst the bushes: but as they seemed pleased, and began dancing and shouting, I had no fear of their proceeding to hostilities. They were all perfectly naked, except one young fellow, who had a bunch of grass fastened round his waist, which came up behind like the tail of a kangaroo. He was active, and as far as I could judge from his gestures had a degree of humour; he would throw himself into a thousand antic shapes, and afforded no small entertainment. Whether he was selected for this purpose, or did it spontaneously, I could not determine.
Having sent the boat on board with the seine, I was anxious to get some kangaroos, which from the appearance of the shore, being of a moderate height, covered with brush and large trees, I made no doubt were to be found in plenty. I made signs to the natives for that purpose, and one of them stepped forward and offered his services. We walked towards the end of the beach we were then on, and entered the woods. We saw several parrots, and smaller birds with beautiful plumage. Mr. Bareillier fired at one of the latter, which so frightened our guide, that he took to his heels and ran back to his companions. On walking inland we found, at some distance from the shore, plenty of large forest trees without any underwood, but excellent grass; among which we sprung some coveys of quails, or more properly the partridges of New Holland. They resemble the English partridge very much, but on rising they do not make any noise, and English pointers will find them where they lie. The trees we saw were in general what is termed she-oak about Sydney. We returned to the beach, and went on board to dinner; but in the afternoon we again made A party for the shore, taking the seine with us. Having given directions for the men to draw it, Mr. Bareillier, Mr. Cayley, the botanist, and myself, with two soldiers armed, entered the woods at the place we had done so in the morning, with an intention of making a circuit round to the boat. We saw many perfectly black cockatoos, excepting the breast, and a few feathers in the wings which were yellow. These birds were so very shy that we could not get near them. Parrots with beautiful plumage were very plenty; I shot one, which falling among the long grass, I could not afterwards find. Mr. Cayley shot a king parrot. Several other birds were killed, the flesh of which we afterwards found very good eating; nor is that of the parrot disagreeable, having very much the same taste as our pigeon. Indeed, owing as I suppose to the seeds of the different plants it feeds on, it is in my opinion far preferable for flavour. This I found to be the case with several other birds of the smaller tribes which I eat while in New Holland. No country in the world abounds with a greater variety of insects. We saw numbers buzzing about the trees, and I had only to regret that I had not the proper means of preserving them. Having pursued our walk inland, we fell in with swampy land in a valley with much brush wood; a rivulet of excellent fresh water ran briskly through it, emptying itself in the sea, near to where I had ordered our boat to haul the seine. There were also several smaller rills of fresh water which we found excellent. Mr. Cayley had, from the eagerness of his search after plants, wandered alone out of sight and hearing, which gave me much uneasiness, as I had cautioned him against it, and the evening was setting in. I felt myself in a considerable degree responsible for the conduct of every one who had embarked with me, and constantly gave them such directions, as I thought conducive not only to the public service but themselves. We found the track of the natives, and fell in with several of their gunnies, or habitations. These are constructed with a few boughs stuck up to skreen them from the wind: several bones of beasts, birds and fish were lying about them. On the return to the boat Mr. Barreillier shot a large hawk, whose legs were covered with very rough scales. Our fishing party had caught some fish, and would have been very successful, but two sharks got into the seine, and tore it in several places; they were both brought on shore, one of which measured seven feet in length. The liver, which was very large, I ordered to be carried on board, to be boiled for the oil, and used in our lamp. It was dark before we got on board, and I was glad to find that Mr. Cayley, who bad collected some curious plants, had got on board before me. On quitting us, he pursued the same path back as we had entered the woods by.
On the 11th of March, the wind still hanging to the S. I took some hands on shore to cut a boat-load of wood, and fill our water-casks that were empty. Whilst they were employed on this duty, Messieurs Barreillier and Cayley, with two soldiers, accompanied me on another excursion. We walked about eight miles inland; and after getting through the wood which skirted the harbour, we found the soil throughout of a very sandy nature, and towards the sea sterile, without trees or bushes. The valleys or low grounds are swampy; the earth in the latter was black, exactly resembling that where peat or turf is cut in Scotland and Ireland. We took another direction inland, and travelled through a great deal of thick cover, but saw no kangaroos. We met with two small lagoons, and saw several streams of good water running through the thickest part of the woods. In this excursion we saw abundance of the feathered tribe, particularly cockatoos, parrots, and the Laughing Bird, so called from the noise it makes resembling laughter. Although the sun was still powerful (which, joined to the closeness of the woods that did not admit a single breeze, made the temperature of the air warm) we did not see any snakes. I cannot otherwise account for this, than that owing to the lateness of the season (this being winter) they had retired into holes. On our return to the boat we fell in with a spot of ground very pleasantly situated, which appeared to have been selected by the natives for the purposes of festivity. It was a small eminence free from brush, having no habitation near it. We counted the marks of fifteen different fires, that had been employed in cooking fish and other eatables, the bones of which were strewed about. Among them we picked up part of a human skull, being the Os Frontis, with sockets of the eyes, and part of the bones of the nose still attached to it. A little distant from where we found this, we discovered a part of the upper jaw with one of the molares or back teeth in it, also one of the vertebrae of the back, having marks of fire, which the others had not. The grass was much trodden down, and many of the bones of the animals appeared fresh. From these circumstances I concluded that the natives occasionally meet at this place for festivity. I brought off the human bones, and on getting on board shewed them to Euranabie. Finding two of the natives from the shore in the vessel, I desired him to ask them, whether these bones had belonged to a white man or not, and if they had killed and eaten him. I was anxious to have this cleared up, as the ship Sydney Cove, from India to Port Jackson, had been wrecked about twelve months before to the southward, and it was reported that some of the crew were killed by the natives near this place. Euranabie accordingly made the enquiries; and from what I could learn, both by means of a soldier who understood the Sydney dialect, and through Euranabie, who comprehended and spoke English tolerably well, I found the bones were those of a white man that had come in a canoe from the southward, where the ship tumble down, the expression he made use of for being wrecked. Although the two natives were repeatedly questioned on this subject, they never deviated in the least from their first account. I also interrogated Worogan, the wife of Euranabie, who spoke English, on this point; and if I was inclined to credit it, I should certainly do it more on account of what she told me than what I heard from the two natives of this place. From her I learned that the Bush Natives, (who appear to be a different tribe of people from those that live by the sea-side,) sometimes did eat human flesh. At my request, she shewed me in what manner they dispatched their victims, which is done by striking them in the pole of the neck with the waddie, or club; after which with the womara, or instrument they throw the spear with, being armed with a shell at one end, they make an incision from the throat down the breast to the lower part of the belly, and another across the chest. This she shewed me by putting her hand in the pole of my neck, and making me stretch myself on the deck, when she went through the whole process with the very instrument before described. Seeing her so well acquainted with the subject, I was in doubt whether she had not been present on such an occasion. But as far as I could judge from her appearance, she must have been too young to have any such knowledge previous to our first settling in the country, as from what I could learn, she had always lived in the neighbourhood of Sydney, where such customs are not practised, and I am convinced that she only spoke from information. However, from these circumstances, my crew implicitly believed they were all cannibals; and the first-mate entered the following words in the log-book—and without doubt they are cannibals. The natives on board did not shew any symptoms of fear at our interrogatories at different times, nor were they at all anxious to conceal any thing from us, but answered freely and without hesitation.
It perhaps may not be improper to mention in this place, that in Lieutenant-Colonel Collins's Account of the Settlement of New South Wales, he says, that the natives are in the habits of occasionally burning their dead; but whether this extends farther than to their friends or relatives we are yet to learn. After repeated enquiries, I never could find out from any of the natives, Euranabie and others of little note excepted, that they were cannibals; though their relative situation to New Zealand might seem to warrant such a conjecture: the question must therefore remain undetermined till we become better acquainted with their manners and customs.
The bones I have already mentioned as having taken on board I carefully preserved, and had them transmitted home to W. L. Thomas, Esq. a surgeon and anatomist of the first respectability. To a question I made to that ingenious gentleman, whether the bones were those of a white man, or otherwise; he said, that he could not take upon himself to affirm if they were the bones of a European or a native of New Holland.
On my going out, the same Gentleman favoured me with some useful queries, which, on my arrival in New South Wales, I laid before William Balmain, Esq. Surgeon to the Colony, and James Thompson, Esq. the Assistant Surgeon. The former of these Gentlemen furnished Mr. Thomas with a complete set of bones belonging to a male, and an entire female skeleton. His opinion of them I beg leave to copy from a letter he favoured me with on the subject, which I trust will not be uninteresting to my Readers:
"Upon a careful examination (says he) I thought that the impression formed by the muscles on the bones were very indistinctly marked, and that the bones were slender and weak in proportion to their length. With respect to the cranium, it much more resembled that of the African than the European; though that of the male differed very materially from both, approaching in its shape nearer to the ape. The upper margin of the boney orbits in which the eyes are lodged projected considerably, which give them the appearance of being compressed from above, which entirely took away the circular shape at the interior part, making them somewhat oblong from the inner to the outer angles. The teeth were very strong and projected considerably, the left incisor of the upper jaw was wanting, and the socket which had contained it was completely obliterated, a circumstance which proves that the tooth must have been removed some time. The space from the teeth to the extremity of the chin was extremely short, and retreated backwards. I could not help remarking the great size of the foramen magnum of the occipital bone, and also of the boney canals leading to the internal parts of the organ of hearing. The sides of the cranium were flattened, and the internal capacity of the skull was very small."
On the 12th, we got into a clear berth for getting underway; but in the morning the wind being very variable and light we were prevented sailing. I went on shore with Mr. Bareillier and our usual escort, in order to make a survey of the Cove we were lying in. When preparing to return to the vessel we were joined by several natives, who appeared anxious to go on board with us. Two of these were strangers, who signified they had come a long way to see us, and that they were very hungry. They were both young stout men, with longer hair than the natives generally have, most of those I saw, either here or elsewhere, having short curled hair, but not at all resembling the wool of the African negroes.
In the afternoon the wind blew strong from the N.E. and E.N.E. but it was needless to attempt sailing till the wind abated, I therefore proposed after our dining to go and survey the western side of the island which lies in the mouth of the harbour, and shelters the Cove from easterly winds. This island I named Ann's Island, in compliment to Mrs. King, the wife of the Governor, as it had not received any name from its former visitors. In putting the surveying instruments into the boat, the chain was found missing; on making the necessary enquiries about it, we were of opinion it had been left on shore by the soldiers who carried it in measuring the distances. A boat with one of them was sent on shore, but after a fruitless search they were returning, when a canoe put off from the island, on which a number of the natives then were, with a man in it who held up the chain in his hand. The boat's crew brought him on board to me. On looking at the chain it was made up in the usual way we did, and tied with a piece of string; but in undoing it I found that the natives had untwisted every bend of the wires which contained the brass-markers, and after taking them off, bent the wires back into their original form, with this difference, that they placed the end which is carried in the hand in the middle. This was the first instance I had experienced of their pilfering any thing; and as I did not chuse to proceed to extremities, I gave the native a blanket and some biscuit, and the mate gave him an old hat, with which he appeared to be highly pleased. The recovery of the chain was gratifying to me, as I knew there would be much clamour if it was lost.
We immediately got into the boat to prosecute the intention of surveying the island, and I took the native with us, towing his canoe astern. On landing, we were joined by a great number of the natives, who seemed glad that the man had been rewarded for carrying back the chain. The blanket attracted their notice much, the use of which they appeared to know. The old man whom I formerly mentioned was among them; on seeing me he made signs for me to sit down at a distance from the rest, and by pointing to his white beard, signified a wish to have it cut off, which I immediately did with a pair of scissars, and he expressed much satisfaction at being rid of it. Observing some of their women at a distance, I made signs to the old man that I wished them to come near. He accordingly called to them, upon which they came and sat down near us. These women were much stouter than I had seen about Sydney. I observed one of the brass marks of the surveying chain fastened round the neck of one of their children hanging down behind. I did not take any notice of it, as I judged it of more consequence to obtain their confidence and good will, not only for the benefit of my expedition, but for that of the Settlement in general. All the women we saw had children. A little acquaintance made them lay aside the timidity which they discovered at first. They examined the buttons of my coat, and the head of my dirk, with great signs of surprize; but what appeared to please them the most was my watch and its ticking noise. By the assistance of some of our party, who could speak the Sydney language, I explained its use to them, as far as they were able to comprehend it; but though both the men as well as the women expressed their satisfaction at other things they saw by loud exclamations and laughing, yet with respect to the watch they talked in a low voice amongst themselves. From what I could judge of their behaviour, they seemed to think it was an object of our adoration and worship.
Among the young people I observed a boy, about twelve years of age, who was a little deformed. He had a sharp pointed stick in his hand, the only weapon of defence I had seen amongst them here; but I found they had weapons not far distant, as will soon appear. Wishing to get some fresh water, I made signs to the Old Chief for that purpose; he readily understood me, and getting up, made me follow him to the side of a hill where some water had settled, but it not appearing to be from a spring, and too trifling for a vessel, I expressed my desire to be taken to a rivulet or constant stream. A native stept forward, as I supposed, to shew me, but on my following him at a short distance, he turned back and left us. Thinking from the direction we were in, that water was not far distant, I took one of my men with me, to whom I gave my fowling-piece to carry. While going on we saw another native a little way before us, to whom I signified what I wanted. As I approached near to him, by a sudden jerk of his foot he raised and caught up in his hand a spear, which was much longer than any I had seen in New Holland. From the weapon rising within six inches of my face, and the sudden impulse of the moment, I seized the piece from the hands of my attendant. The native putting the spear on his shoulder, walked leisurely towards a cliff, over which he looked to the sea, and shortly after joined his companions. I do not suppose that any thing hostile was meant, but as by the direction I was taking, I might have found the spear and kept it, he thought it best to get it himself. This incident may by many be deemed of little use to be inserted here; but as it shews they have weapons concealed, it ought to put us upon our guard to prevent a surprize.
Many of the men and women I saw here were, in all appearance, marked with the small-pox, and on my pointing to some of the crew that had marks of that disorder, the natives made signs that they proceeded from the same disease. From many inquiries I made, I learned that they had a disorder in this country, which left marks behind it, but whether it is similar to the small-pox in Europe, I cannot determine, as I never saw any one of them at the time they were afflicted with it. I have, however, every reason to believe it to be the same disorder; and I am the more confirmed in it, by the evidence of Mr. Sharp, late Surgeon to the extra East India ship the Cornwallis, who while in New South Wales, collected a great deal of useful information respecting the natives. Since his return to England, he has most obligingly favoured me with many of his observations, among others, those he made on the small-pox, which had attracted his notice. Whether it is an original disease of the Island, or introduced by Captain Cook, or some former navigators, remains yet to be ascertained.
Having completed our survey, and found plenty of good water on this island, we returned on board.
At five A.M of the 13th we weighed anchor with light variable airs, got clear out of the Cove by ten, when we found a moderate breeze from N.E. and now we made all possible sail to the southward. It is worthy remark, that Jarvis's Bay or Sound is large and commodious, easy of access, affording shelter from all winds, and having room for upwards of 200 sail of ships, with plenty of wood and water. When this Bay comes to be more known, it will be found eligible for vessels bound to Port Jackson, after a long passage from England through meeting with N.E. winds, and will be the means of saving many lives, as well as much wear and tear.
On the 14th at noon, we saw Mount Dramesany N.N.W. distant eight or nine leagues, lat. observed 36° 50' S.
The following day we had squally weather with rain, the wind having shifted to the S. blowing strong, accompanied with a breaking and confused sea. At noon it became more moderate and fair, when Cape Howe bore S.S.W. four or five leagues. Observation in lat. 37° 13' S. We pursued our route for the Straits, without any thing particularly happening, except the occurrences of weather, which were very variable until the 18th, when we had an observation at noon in lat. 37° 51' S. Point Hicks bearing N. by E. distant ten or twelve miles. At five P.M. saw a strange sail in the S.W. quarter. Tacked in order to speak, and at six sent a boat on board of her. She proved to be the ship Britannia, Captain Turnbull, from England direct, bound on the whale fishery. As she was going to Port Jackson to refit, I sent by her accounts of our proceedings to Governor King. Captain Turnbull with much kindness politely sent me a few necessaries that were very acceptable, and for which I shall always retain a most grateful remembrance. The wind now shifted to the S. and retarded our progress much.
On the 20th, at eleven P.M. we had a fresh gale from E. and E. by N. which by eight A.M. gave us sight of Wilson's Promontory, or South Cape of New Holland, bearing W.S.W. ten or twelve miles. At half past nine it bore N.W. by N. distant three or four miles. We passed close to the rock which I had named Rodondo on my passage out, lying nearly off the end of the Promontory. At ten, the south part of the Promontory bore N. by E. five or six miles. At noon we observed in lat. 39° 4*, which, from every calculation and observation it was in my power to make, I consider to be the latitude of the southernmost point of New Holland. We passed close to those Islands on one of which I had attempted to land in my passage out, and which I had named Glennie's Islands. The most remarkable object near to them is a large rock almost circular, and of great magnitude, appearing like one entire stone on one side, whilst on the other it is perfectly hollow, and arched on the top, with very high breast-work, as if intended to oppose the sea. When the wind blows strong into this opening it must, from its height, make a noise that will be heard several miles off. The water is very deep close to this rock, and we passed within pistol shot of it.
[* The French Navigators have determined that Point to be in latitude 39° 10'. Mr. Bass says, 38° 56'.]
From Wilson's Promontory, which is high and steep, the land trained away to the N.N.W. as far as the eye could reach, and fell down into low level land towards Cape Liptrap, and from Glennie's Islands. The course by compass is N.W. ¼W. or N.W. westerly. But it must be observed, that the straight course from the south point of Wilson's Promontory to Cape Liptrap is nearly W. by N. as Mr. Bass has laid it down in the sketch he made from the whale boat. The land between the two points falls back into a deep inlet which we did not see the bottom of, keeping as close as we could to the wind, and steering from N.W. to N.N.W. This inlet when better known will, in case of easterly winds, afford shelter to vessels bound to the Eastward and meeting with such winds. We penetrated on our return from Western Port far enough into it to see that it ended in a low sandy beach. The wind at five A.M. having shifted from N.N.E. to W.N.W. and varying to the S. accompanied with rain and squalls, I did not at this time judge it prudent to come to an anchor in it.
In pursuing our course towards Western Port from Cape Liptrap the coast trains for a considerable distance N.N.W. and then from E.S.E. to W.N.W. It is a sandy beach and low land, on part of which the grass appeared to be burnt. The land seemed to be level, and the soil good.
The next Point to the W. of the Cape just mentioned, which bears according to the courses we ran N. 38° W. distant about eighteen miles. There is a low reef of rocks running off from the shore about a mile; and as it was necessary to distinguish this Point, I named it Cape Paterson, in compliment to Colonel Paterson of the New South Wales Corps. Another Point to the W. of this has also a rocky reef running off from it to some distance, and appearing above water.
At four P.M. of the 21st we had sight of the Island which forms the south head of Western Port, having the likeness of a snapper's head, or horseman's helmet. By eight we were up with it, and on opening the entrance of the port I found two small Islands situated about three quarters of a mile from the south head, with apparently a good passage between them, and the island forming the harbour. From its likeness, as above-mentioned, to a snapper's head, I named it Snapper Island: it falls in a high clay bluff down to the water's edge. The small islands lying off from it were covered with seals, numbers of which on our approach precipitated themselves into the sea, covering the passage, while others remained on the rocks making a very disagreeable noise, somewhat like the grunting of pigs. They were of a large size, many of them being nearly equal to that of a bullock. I judged them to be of that species of the seal called by the fishermen Sea Elephants, accordingly I named these, Seal Islands. I sent a boat ahead to sound the passage, and found between the Seal Islands and the South Head twelve, nine, six, five, and three and a half fathoms water, which last was the shoalest in mid-channel. This passage will shorten the distance when there is a leading wind, but standing round to the westward of Seal Islands there will be found sufficient room for any number of vessels to beat in. Mr. Bass, when he visited this place in the whale boat, entered the port by the eastern passage, which is much the smallest, and coasting the western shore from whence he made his remarks. It is probable that these islands lying so close to the opposite side of him, they did not shew themselves to be detached from the southern side of the entrance, and this I judge because he makes no mention of them. And I am the more inclined to this opinion, as no one has ever thought of looking here for seals, notwithstanding they may be found in great numbers, with an excellent harbour, affording good shelter for vessels employed in pursuit of them.
It had rained constantly and heavily all the night, and by its continuance we could not see any great distance from the vessel, therefore I kept the lead going as she worked up the harbour. The soundings were from 17 to 10, 6 and 21 fathoms, the bottom muddy, but in the shoals sandy, which generally was the case when we stood over to the western side. Before leaving this place I will endeavour to account for it.
At half past five P.M. came to an anchor in six and a half fathoms of water, fine sand, and abreast of a sandy point, bearing W. three quarters of a mile, which I named Lady Nelson's Point, as a memorial of the vessel, as she was the first decked one that ever entered this port.
As the sun crossed the Equator this day to the northward, and heavy weather might be expected, I was glad to find a harbour that could afford us good shelter.
Mr. Barreillier went on shore with the second mate, and on their return they brought two ducks and a black swan which they had shot. They saw plenty of black swans, and red bills, an aquatic bird so called, whose back is black, the breast white, beak red, and feet not full webbed. It is an excellent eating fowl, much resembling in flavour a wild duck, and nearly of the same size.
On Sunday the 22d, or according to our sea account the 25d, it being past twelve o'clock at noon, I went with two of our crew in the smallest boat to search for a river or stream, described by Mr. Bass, at the head of the harbour, where fresh water was to be got. As a considerable track appeared to be perfectly dry at low water a short distance from the vessel across the harbour, with only small channels in some parts of it, I found it necessary to explore and sound the best passage, so as to have it always in our power, if possible, to get through the muddy flat. Pelicans and albatrosses in great numbers visit this flat, previous to its being left dry at low water, to pick up their food. In proceeding along the shore, I fell in with an island, pleasantly situated, and separated from the Main by a very narrow channel at low water, but even then sufficient for a boat to pass, though much larger when the tide is in. I passed through it and landed on the island towards the N. and W. It is of gradual ascent, well covered with trees of a considerable height, and much underwood. The situation of it was so pleasant, and the prospects round it so agreeable, that this, together with the richness of the soil, and the sheltered position of the spot, made me conceive the idea that it was excellently adapted for a garden. Having determined upon establishing a garden in this place, I thought it incumbent upon me to give the island the name of Churchill, after a generous and public spirited Gentleman, John Churchill, Esq. of Dawleish, in the county of Devon, who, on my leaving England, supplied me with a variety of seeds of useful vegetables, together with the stones of peaches, nectarines, and the pepins or kernels of several sorts of apples, with an injunction to plant them for the future benefit of our fellow-men, be they Countrymen, Europeans or Savages. I had, moreover, been furnished with many seeds for the like liberal purposes, by my friend Capt. Schank; but let me not omit the pepin of an apple, differing from all other fruit of the kind, in having rarely more than one pepin in each apple. I hope the name I gave with it in New Holland will not be forgotten (Lady Elizabeth Percy's Apple) should it happen to prove a common fruit of the country, as it was owing to her Ladyship's care and attention in preparing the pepins, that I was enabled to introduce it. Whatever is for the benefit of mankind cannot be of indifference, I therefore think I need make no apology to the feeling reader for this short digression.
From several good observations, I found Western Port to lie in lat. 38° 32' S. and that by the Chronometer its longitude was 146° 19' to the eastward of Greenwich.
I found in Churchill's Island several holes of large size, apparently the burrows of an animal. There appeared to be no traces of the kangaroo on it. I had intended to make search for some stream of fresh water, but having traversed the country to some distance, and night approaching with the tide at ebb, I returned on board the vessel. My crew had caught a number of flat-heads alongside: this fish has its name from the shape or its head, is common to this country, and is good eating. They saw some sharks of a considerable size, and caught three or four small ones.
Messieurs Barreillier and Murray went on shore in the morning following with an intention of making a survey of part of the harbour. Mr. Cayley likewise set out on his botanical researches. The second mate was dispatched to make discovery of the fresh water stream. In the mean time I explored the banks of a considerable Creek which opened abreast of the vessel. The weather was unsettled, and towards the evening heavy rain and squalls came on from the W.S.W. No traces of fire or tracks of the natives were discoverable; but notwithstanding the lateness of the season, the earth was clothed with variety of vegetables, and birds of various kinds were to be seen everywhere. In the course of my progress up the Creek, I observed a great number of black swans, with ducks and red-bills; here too I saw the sea-gull, differing in no respect from the bird so called with us. The bushes abounded with small birds, many of them having beautiful plumage, and some melodious, and seemingly vying with each other in their notes. I observed a general shyness among the feathered tribe, and concluded they were often pursued by the natives. The ducks were particularly so, and it was with much difficulty I could come within gun-shot of them. Night brought on a general rendezvous of our parties on board the vessel. Mr. Cayley had made discovery of a few new plants, but perhaps from the lateness of the season, not in such plenty as he had expected. He had penetrated a considerable way in Snapper Island, but did not find the trees so large on that rich soil as I had reason to expect from those I had seen on Churchill Island. My second mate returned, not having discovered the stream he went in search of, the harbour being very extensive, and the stream itself small.
The weather continuing wet and squally, and the atmosphere obscure and close, several objects of our intention could not be prosecuted. The 25th and 26th being clear and fine, search was again made for the fresh water stream; the survey was carried on, and a part of my crew was sent on shore to twist some small rope for our running rigging. I went up the Creek already mentioned in the boat, and found it to terminate in a large salt marsh, having the appearance of being at times overflowed to a considerable extent: the trees were not very large, but the underwood was very thick; however I penetrated through it to a considerable distance, and found here and there spots that appeared as if they had been cleared by manual labour. These spots were covered with good tender grass, and afforded by their agreeable verdure great pleasure to the sight. Part of my object was to make discovery of the natives, but herein I was disappointed, as not the least traces were discoverable that any had been here. I had chosen for a companion in this research my Sydney native, whom I found in many respects very useful, especially when penetrating a thicket, as he usually went first and cleared a passage for me to follow him. Though always barefooted, and sometimes naked, he had by practice acquired a facility of passing through the thick underwood, and could effect his passage in much less time than any of us.
The open land, which, as I have mentioned, had the appearance of being frequently overflowed, was clothed with grass, which grew everywhere luxuriantly, and seemed like other salt marshes, well adapted for the purpose of fattening cattle. As we passed down the Creek we saw several sting-rays of a large size. The length of this Creek is about two miles and a half, the water is perfectly salt, and it ends in a small run of about twelve feet in breadth. The tides which overflow here must evidently, at times, be greatly agitated, beyond what I am able to account for by the usual causes of wind happening to increase the height and force of spring tides. In many places the mud appeared to be washed up in high banks, and deep ravines to have been formed, and this not long since, as I judged from the softness of the mud, which made walking on it not very practicable. I could only attribute these floods to rain, which in this country often falls in very heavy torrents. The Hawksbury river has afforded many examples of this, as it is sometimes suddenly swoln, in a manner unknown in respect to the rivers of Great Britain, to the great damage of the crops adjoining to it, all before the flood being swept away in a general desolation. This marsh or flat extends for some miles in length and breadth, and I examined it to a considerable distance from the end of the Creek, in order to discover, if possible, some fresh spring water. I dug several holes with much eagerness, but found no water but what was brackish, beyond what is generally understood even by that epithet.
My second mate was more successful in his search, and had discovered the stream of fresh water. He had likewise taken a couple of cygnets which he brought on board alive; one of these became tame, and on my return to Sydney was presented to Governor King.
On the 27th March, Mr. Murray went, accompanied by Messrs. Barreillier and Cayley, with instructions to explore the fresh water stream, and to report how far it might be eligible for the purpose of a watering place. As to myself I made excursions along shore to the mouth of the harbour.
The beach was covered with shells, many of them beautiful, and some of them entirely new to me. I observed another Creek not so large as the former which I have described, but having its entrance quite filled up with beach, so that the sea could not enter it. The land in general was much above the level of the sea, and abounded with underwood interspersed with trees. The soil was in some places light and black, in others a red clay. I was still attended by the faithful Euranabie; and it chanced that we fell in with a rocky point, about which I observed playing in the water a number of those kind of fishes, called salmon in New Holland, as I suppose from their scales, for in no other respect do they resemble the fish to which we give that name. These fish are, however, excellent eating, and are generally found in shoals. I expressed a desire to the native of having some, and asked him whether they would bite at the hook, to which he replied in the affirmative. I had no sooner expressed my wish on this matter, than turning about, I missed my companion from behind me: not divining the true cause of his absence, I grew impatient and hallooed for him, upon which he instantly presented himself from the wood with a small stick in his hand. Asking me for my knife, he presently sharpened one end to a point, and then stripping* himself, he leaped from one point of the rock to another until he met with an opportunity of striking a fish, which he did, the stick penetrating quite through it; and in this state he came and presented it to me. During this transaction, I could not but admire the keenness of his sight, and his ability to preserve the steadiness of his position, standing as he did on the rough edge of a sharp rock, the sea washing above his knees, his eyes intent upon the fish, very difficult to strike from the smallness of its size, presented to him in a narrow back. I have before remarked upon the gentle disposition which is so striking a feature in the character of the New Hollander. In the individual, of whom I am now speaking, it was remarkable; his attention and readiness to oblige upon all occasions were very great. Though I pressed him to take the fish several times, he as constantly refused it, but accepted of some tobacco, which he was exceedingly fond of smoking.
[* When Euranabie and his wife came on board the vessel, at Sydney, they both of them received clothing; but when the weather proved warm, the woman threw aside her gown and petticoat, and preferred appearing in the state of nature, or slightly covered with a blanket.]
About this time Euranabie's wife, Worrogan, had declared herself pregnant, a circumstance I by no means suspected, as from the symptoms she discovered of a general listlessness and indisposition to motion, I had apprehended owing to being unaccustomed to live on shipboard, she was attacked with the scurvy; a disorder, however, which did not prevail amongst my crew. With this idea, I prescribed air and exercise on shore, and obliged her to accompany her husband and me, which I was not always able to do without much difficulty. When at length she made her situation known to me, she did not at the same time scruple to declare her intention of making away with her offspring; and the reason she gave for it was, that she did not like the trouble of nursing. I believe this was really the case, as I saw her afterwards several times, and to the very period of my leaving the Colony, when she was without a a child, and to every appearance not in a state of pregnancy. It is shocking to relate, but it is well known, that the women of New Holland do sometimes destroy their children at their birth, and even afterwards, if they prove froward. One of them applied to a female convict to lend her a spade that she might bury her child alive, as she said it cried very much, and was not worth rearing up. Upon being refused, she ran away and left her child with the woman, which pined and died for want of the nourishment of the breast. There is reason to think that the New Holland women have a secret method of destroying the fœtus in utero, a horrid practice, and which is often of fatal consequence to themselves.*
[* This, with their constant wars made on each other, in a great measure, accounts for their thinness of population.]
On the 28th March, 1801, not having found any other place fitter for the purpose, I went on shore at Churchill's Island, with the resolution of clearing ground for a garden, as I before mentioned was my intention. The party I took with me burnt a space of about 20 rods; they felled the larger trees, the timber of which was reserved to be used as will be hereafter mentioned. I was pleased to find the soil easy to dig, rich and loose.
My first mate was returned with his party, and informed me that he had gone up the river as far as the boat could go, he found it to wind very much, to the number of 42 short reaches, that the breadth of the entrance was about half a cable's length, and at the farthest part the boat went, not more than 18 or 20 feet, the passage being there impeded by trees lying across it. He informed me that he had seen no natives, but had discovered several marks of fires.
This was the first account I had of the probability of there being natives to be met with here. The mouth of the river, he said, was defended by a considerable sand flat, which only afforded one place with sufficient depth of water for the boat to pass. From thence he found from three feet to four fathoms water, which at half flood was somewhat brackish.
On the 29th I sent the first mate with instructions relative to ascertaining certain particulars respecting the entrance of the port, and with regard to Seal Islands, on which last he was, if possible, to land. Mr. Barreillier went likewise in order to proceed further in his survey. Soon after their departure the weather proved boisterous and blew strong; they were thereby prevented landing on the islands. They brought the boat to an anchor off a sandy beach, which appeared to have no surf, when they were suddenly surprized with a heavy swelling sea, which being immediately followed by another of the same, the boat filled and was upset on the beach. Fortunately no lives were lost, though all were immersed in the water, from which Euranabie (who was of the party) first escaped to shore. However, the provisions and ammunition which they had provided themselves with were lost or spoiled. At the turn of the tide they launched the boat and returned on board.
I have had occasion to remark, not only here, but in Simon's Bay at the Cape of Good Hope, and in other places, that the sea has appeared perfectly calm along shore for the space of half a cable's length from the beach, when it would get up and break with much force, then be still again for ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, and rise again in the same manner.
Notwithstanding this unforeseen and sudden disaster, the Gentlemen had saved from the wreck a black swan and four ducks, which they shot on their passage out, and this afforded them and us, who were on board, the consolation of a savoury meal.
On the 31st, I went up the fresh water river, accompanied by Mr. Barreillier. At night we encamped on its banks, when there came on an exceeding heavy storm of rain, with thunder, lightning, and high wind, by which we were thoroughly drenched, before we could raise a temporary shelter by means of branches and boughs of trees. We traced a branch of the river on the right, a small distance from the mouth of this stream, as far as our boat could go; we then followed its course on shore, along the bank, and found it was fed by the greater river only. This carried us some distance inland, and we discovered marks of fires that had been made by the natives. We found the banks thickly covered with underwood, but towards the end of this branching stream the country appeared to open and to afford plots of very rich pasture. The soil everywhere was black and rich, and the country level. At some considerable distance, however, the land rose to a height, and being covered with large trees, which appeared to have been shattered by storms, had for this reason obtained the name of Mount Rugged. We marched pretty far inland, and found the country everywhere free from inundations, interspersed with woods and open plains, and exhibiting a very picturesque appearance. The day was remarkably fine and pleasant, but in the woods the air was very close and disagreably sultry. My people had killed a small black snake which they had found in the meadows, and which the warmth of the weather had invited from its retreat. The same kind of snake is common about Sydney, and there it is thought to be venemous, though from the flatness of its head I should not be inclined to think so. This was about eighteen inches in length, the belly having a cast of dirty red, the back grey.
We saw no kangaroos during our progress inland. We pursued our course up the river as far as our boat had before proceeded, and Mr. Barreillier completed his survey to the same distance. At low water we found it perfectly sweet and good, and accordingly filled our casks, having brought them with us for that purpose. The banks of this river are sufficiently high to keep it within bounds in the highest tides. The sides of the river have trees of a large size growing on them, with much underwood, and we observed a number of birds settling on them. Among these we noted the bird called the Bell Bird, which has no remarkable plumage, but a note not unlike the tinkling of a bell; so that when a number of these birds are collected together, the noise they make is similar to that made by the bells of a team of horses. Amongst other birds of various note, we often distinguished the laughing-bird, whose note can only be compared to the ha! ha! ha! of a hearty laughing companion. The plumage of this bird is a mixture of black and white, or rather grey, and in size it may be compared to a thrush; but its loudness deceives the hearer, who is not a little surprized to find a bird so small and so loud. The laughing-bird is an early visitor, and was usually the first to salute us in a morning. We shot a duck which differed from any we had hitherto seen here, and is not unlike the wild duck found in the British Islands, though rather of a smaller size. When flying it makes a whistling noise with its wings, so that a flock of them together cannot fail to excite attention, insomuch that this fowl has now, from that property acquired, and is become generally known throughout the Settlement by the name of the whistling duck.
Mr. Barreillier and I continued our progress on the bank of the river, until we were able to cross it by means of a tree which had fallen directly over where the stream became contracted in width. The underwood here was very thick, and many of the shrubs were thorny, so that our passage was troublesome and slow. We therefore made a circuit inland to the place where we had left our boat. The weather proving uncomfortably wet gave us little chance of meeting with any variety of birds; we were fortunate enough however to fall in with some rare and uncommon cockatoos, one of which Mr. Barreillier shot, and a faithful representation of it will be found in the annexed Plate, after a design from the elegant pencil of Major-General Davies, of the Royal Artillery, to whom Governor King presented the preserved specimen.
PSITTACUS FRIMBIATUS FRINGE CRESTED COCKATOO.
We proceeded through the wood until we came to an extensive and level country, which was entirely clear of timber and underwood. The grass was so luxuriant here that it was difficult to pass through it as it reached above our knees. Here we discovered evident traces of paths made by kangaroos. This plain extended farther than we could see on one side, on the other it was bounded by hills. We walked over it to some distance, and found the soil rich and good: the grass, with which it was everywhere plentifully covered, had the appearance of rye grass, much like that which I had seen in England. And I do not hesitate to pronounce, that I saw no land about Sydney or Paramatta which for richness of soil appeared better adapted for the purposes of agriculture. In saying this, I do not mean to confine the observation to a small spot, such as I then viewed, but to the general face of the country, which I had occasion afterwards to go over to the extent of several miles, finding it almost everywhere level, productive of the richest and finest grass, free from swamp, and secured from inundation.
We returned to the river side, and having ordered the boat to drop lower down a few miles, we walked along the bank, through a forest of stately timber trees. Amongst these I observed some which had grown to the height of 60 or 70 feet without any branches, except at the top: these were slender and light wood, seeming to me very fit for the scantling of houses. With this idea I had a few of them cut down and brought on board the vessel; some of the smaller ones I converted into boat-hook staves, and found them answer as well as any I had brought from England for that purpose. I brought Governor King specimens of these light durable woods, and a species of sassafras, which was discovered by my second mate, in cutting the other wood. We had trial made of this last on board, and found it alike in flavour, and, no doubt, in quality, with the sassafras in common use here at home. I must not omit doing justice to the diligence and talents of the young man I have just mentioned, whose use and value I have experienced on many occasions.
On our way down the river we stopped at the place where we had passed the preceding night, and found our fire still burning. To this spot we gave the name of the Halfway House, being half way up the river, and the place where we found the conveniency of watering. As to the but we erected, I contemplate with pleasure the surprize it must give the natives that shall hit upon it, and the seasonable shelter it may afford some of them as it did us.
On our return to Churchill's Island, I found my people had cleared the spot I had laid out for a garden, and that there was nothing wanting but to prepare the ground to receive such seeds as I should chuse to plant. And here we were under a difficulty which it was no easy matter to remedy, for we had neither hoe nor spade with us. It is true, I had brought out the latter implements for gardening with me from England, by the advice of my friend Captain Schank, who foresaw the occasion we should have for them, and they were delivered, amongst other things, into his Majesty's storehouse, from whence, from whatever principle of economy and good management, it was not easy to draw any thing out again.
However we were in possession of a coal-shovel, which, though it was thin and much worn, served the purpose, the soil being, as I have already observed, exceedingly light and easy to work: indeed a spade was much wanted in another respect, which was digging for water, an experiment I was desirous of making, and which I found could not well be made with a coal-shovel. There happened another proof of my being provided with implements which I should have occasion for, and could not avail myself of, because they were disposed of in the same manner as the garden utensils had been. I had brought out traps of all sorts and sizes, from the man-trap to the mousetrap; and I certainly had occasion for one of the middle size of these, and that on account of an incident, which I now proceed to relate.
My men, who slept on the ground which they had cleared for a garden, in a but which they had built for the occasion, informed me that one of their comrades was awakened out of his sleep by some animal, that seemed to be gnawing his hair, which he had driven away, but as it was dark he could not observe its shape or figure. He supposed it to be the Bandicoot rat, an animal that seldom appears by day-light; and it being well known that the Colony was infested with such vermin, and having remarked several burrows in different places of this island, I was inclined to give into the same opinion. In order to give this nocturnal visitor a suitable reception, I sent on board for a dog of the English breed, which we had brought out with us from Sydney. This dog remained with the people on the island, and, as they reported to me, was one night engaged with some animal apparently of equal strength, for it brought him to the ground and made him howl, till at length it escaped into the wood. Still no one was able to give any account of it, the darkness being great, and the animal escaping unhurt. The dog had received some scratches about his nose, but being of the stag-hound kind could not possibly have been mastered by so insignificant an animal as a Bandicoot rat; however, had we had the good fortune of having then with us one of the traps, which were so snugly lodged in his Majesty's store at Sydney, I had possibly given a more satisfactory account to the Reader of the animal, which occasioned this alarm amongst my men; but not being able to do this, I have only to intreat his pardon for having trespassed upon his patience with this digression.
The ground was now prepared, and I sowed my several sorts of seeds, together with wheat, Indian corn and peas, some grains of rice, and some coffee berries; and I did not forget to plant potatoes. With the trunks of the trees I felled I raised a block-house of 24 feet by 12, which will probably remain for some years, the supporters being well fixed in the earth. Indeed I was anxious to mark my predilection for this spot, on account of its beautiful situation, insomuch that I scarcely know a place I should sooner call mine than this little island. Round this skeleton of a mansion-house I planted the stones and kernels of the several fruits I had brought out, not forgetting that of the curious apple before mentioned. I made this plantation rather late in the season, but I am in hopes that some of the crops will flourish, and I wait the pleasure of a good report hereafter. Several of my crew remained on this island for seven or eight days, but saw no more of the strange animal. Birds they found, and particularly parrots in great numbers; but in their search for water they were unsuccessful, though I am strongly of opinion it might be procured by digging, and there appeared to be nothing to prevent digging for it to a proper depth. We turned up a few stones, and some interspersed with veins of iron ore, indeed so rich of the metal, that they had a visible effect on the needle of our compass. Stones of the like kind are likewise found about Sydney and in other parts.
On the 21st, Mr. Bowen, my second mate, having been sent up the river for fresh water, returned with part of a canoe, which he had found sunk near the mouth, together with the two paddles belonging to it, and some line used in fishing. This canoe differed from any before seen, as it was framed with timber, and instead of being tied together at the ends was left open, the space being afterwards filled with grass worked up with strong clay. This specimen together with whatever else I collected was deposited, according to the orders I received, with Governor King.
We moved over to the opposite shore, in order to near a small island, lying in the opening of the extensive arms described by Mr. Bass, of which this port has two branching out to the northward. I named this island Margaret Island, in honour of Mrs. Schank, to whom I am indebted for several articles, useful on board my little vessel, but too numerous to be mentioned here. The tide ebbing very fast, we found ourselves in shoal water; but the bottom being a soft mud, and the weather calm, there was nothing to be apprehended further than our being detained there longer than we might have wished. And to shew how little water we drew, and how well calculated such a vessel is for searching unknown Creeks and Rivers, independent of more extensive discoveries, I must observe, that when the vessel's fore-foot touched the mud the stock of the anchor we let go was above water. To enable my Readers, who are seamen, to form a judgment of our depth of water, I must here premise, that our anchor was four hundred weight, and had an iron stock to it.
This, I trust, will shew the advantage which a vessel of this construction has over others. For supposing a vessel of the same kind to approach a shore, having only three feet water, and forced thereon by severity of weather, with a heavy surf breaking, she would not so soon take the ground, and that at a less distance from the land, than a vessel of the same size built in the usual way. Now the latter, if sharp built, would by the surge probably be laid on her side, when the following sea would overwhelm her, whereas the former has a great chance to be carried so near the shore by the first sea, that every body might safely get out of her. Such I take to be one of the properties belonging to a vessel, constructed on the like principle to the Lady Nelson. In the instance I have here given, I have confined myself to a sandy beach or flat strand; but suppose the shore a vessel is cast upon be of any other kind, the vessel of the smallest draught of water is most likely, if not to save herself; at least to save her crew. Let it be considered, that a vessel thrown on shore is, after her first touching the ground, forced further upon it by every succeeding wave, until the power of the sea is unequal to carry her a greater length; and then if she is not well put together, or the sea happen to be of great strength, she is beaten to pieces. All that can be done, in such an extremity, is to ease or lighten her as much as possible. If then a vessel can lay her bow down, in three feet water, with all her stores for two or three months on board, is it not clear that she has an advantage over another drawing six? And it is most likely that a vessel of sixty tons, built in the usual way, will not draw much less. Now, admitting that the former has been obliged to cut away her masts, and throw every thing of weight overboard, provided the bowsprit be preserved, and she end on, which, until she first took the ground, it is probable would be the case, the crew would be able, on the retreat of the sea, to land nearly on the beach.
But to proceed, as I am no friend to vessels being on the ground, unless there be an absolute necessity for it, by carrying a hawser out I soon hauled her off, and brought her up nearer to Margaret's Island, at which we stayed for some time.
We found this island to be in general flat, but well covered with wood. Here we deposited some seeds; but did not find the soil equally rich with that of Churchill's Island. Mr. Barreillier and I went for a great length of way up this arm, and saw every where a level and very fertile country, having many woods of large timber trees, intermixed with open savannahs of the most rich and luxuriant grass. We explored in the boat several small creeks running up in the country; coming to the end of some, we walked forward and observed many clear spots, affording excellent pasture. Here was, however, a want of streams of fresh water; and having by some accident lost a part of what we brought with us from the vessel, we found a pressing call for that necessary beverage. Luckily I heard the bullfrog, which is common to New South Wales, and I made towards the thicket from whence his croaking issued, and there found a present supply. The water indeed was stagnant, but it was sweet; and as this reptile is an inhabitant of moist places, I make no doubt water will be found by digging in most spots frequented by the bull-frog.
On our way up we found a rapid tide with many whirlpools, occasioned by the deep holes which it had formed in the soft mud. This arm being nearly dry at low water, reminded me of the appearance of Portchester Lake when the tide is out. Indeed the entire view of Western Port has no small resemblance of Spithead and Portsmouth Harbour.
We encamped for the night on the borders of a lagoon which abounded with ducks, and here we found some gunnies or habitations of the natives, about which fish and other bones were strewed in great profusion, with egg-shells of an uncommon size. We observed the tracks of quadrupeds, which we sup posed to be made by the native dogs, if so, they were of a larger size than any I had before seen. These tracks were impressed deep in the sand, very round, and without any mark of the claw.*
[* The Dutch boors had pointed out to me, whilst I staid at the Cape the distinguishing marks, whereby to discover the different tracks of the tyger, and the wolf or dog. In their bunting excursions they are often forced to follow their game into thick cover, and find it necessary to examine the various traces of the animals sheltering themselves there: thus they know those made by the tyger, as they have not the mark of the claw which those of the dog, the wolf, and the hyæna have. Besides which, the three last animals leave a longer mark with their feet. Those we saw here were perfectly round, and without the mark of the claw, yet I believe them to belong to the dog of the country, as more of the heel or back of the foot was shewn, than I could discover by tracks made by tygers. However, it must be left to future discovery to ascertain whether there be any other animal in this country than the dog. The tracks were numerous, and the foot-marks of various sizes, but the largest did not exceed the bigness of those of a large Newfoundland dog.]
On the 17th we got under weigh, and at night brought up in twelve fathom water, with rather a foul bottom. In the morning we discovered a sand shoal, whereon the waves were breaking very heavily close to us. This ought to be carefully avoided by keeping the south and east shores on board, as it lays a long distance from the north and west side, and has at all times a surf on it. We availed ourselves of this bottom, and in half an hour caught abundance of large snappers. We shifted our berth, and brought up in a small nook or bay, which I named Elizabeth Cove, in honour of Miss Elizabeth King, daughter of Governor King, then at Sydney.
Great part of the survey of this extensive harbour being completed on the 22d of April, notwithstanding the delay occasioned by wet and unfavourable weather; and there being yet more to do, I was anxious to be gone. We were, however, detained by the badness of the weather until the 29th, when at break of day I weighed and stood out of Western Port, passing to the westward of the Seal Islands, and found a large passage, capable of any vessel beating into it; care, however, should be taken to give the westernmost head a wide berth to avoid some heavy breakers, which appear a mile from it, even in good weather, and as I apprehended extended still further. The following Remarks made on the very spot will be found useful to future navigators; for though in the day-time a seaman's eye will guide and direct, yet too many particulars cannot be known respecting any harbour, however well he may be acquainted with it.
On entering this harbour, the easternmost shore, or right hand side, giving the Seal Islands a berth of three quarters of a mile, unless a preference is given to going between Seal and Snapper Islands, which was the passage by which the Lady Nelson entered. The former passage is the principal entrance into the harbour, and with the before-mentioned offing from the islands, and a N.E. half E. course by compass, will carry a vessel up to Elizabeth's Cove or Bay, when a berth may be chosen, as circumstances may make it convenient. Our course out was S.W. half W. by compass, which carried us clear of every thing, with a strong flood-tide running against us. Attention should be paid, at all times, to the tide, which flows thirty-five minutes past twelve on the full and change, according to the best calculation we could make in the middle stream, and along such shores as did not wind, for where they do there will be found a variation, which nothing but mere experience can ascertain. I have already observed, that the eastern shore is the clearest and ought always to be kept on board, as on the western side there are long sand flats, on which the sea breaks in general with much force to a great distance up the harbour. This caution ought to be particularly attended to in foggy weather, as from 14 to 12 fathoms water will be found very near them. When I left Margaret's Island, I let go my anchor in 12 fathoms water, and it being dark saw no shoal; but, from the motion of the vessel, I suspected something of the kind, and in the morning discovered a shoal within less than a cable's length of us, and the sand turning up when the sea broke, as it does on the Goodwin Sands at the time of flood. It being gloomy and wet when I entered the harbour, I did not see these shoals, but ran by the lead, as I could depend on the vessel staying. These shoals extend along the west side from nearly opposite the Seal Islands, till coming abreast of Elizabeth's Cove, where they fall in with the western shore.
In hazy thick weather, or in the night, after having passed the Seal Islands, which are an excellent mark, I would recommend going into no greater depth, in standing over from the eastern shore to its opposite, than 10 or 12 fathoms water, as 14 will be found very near to the flats. On the east side nothing of the kind is to be apprehended, it will be only necessary to give those points a berth that appear rocky, as some of them run out from the shore two or three cables' length, between these points the beach will generally be found sandy, and a vessel may stand in five fathoms water without danger.
I need not enlarge upon the explanation here given, as there is no doubt but the Chart of this place, which is in the hands of Government, will appear in due time; I shall therefore only observe, that Western Port is capable of containing several hundred sail of ships with perfect security from storms, and will admit of being fortified. It is a convenient harbour for going in and coming out, at all times, is situated in a country which may easily be improved by cultivation, and in an excellent climate. This harbour will be found useful to vessels coming through the Straits, a passage which, no doubt, will in time, be generally pursued (preferably to rounding Tassman's Head,) by ships in their passage from England, or from the Cape of Good Hope to Port Jackson. And I do not see but this is an eligible passage, at certain seasons of the year, for vessels bound from Sydney to India, and perhaps at all times more so, than passing through the labyrinth of unknown Islands, in making the northern passage from Port Jackson to India. In respect to making the passage to the Cape of Good Hope, direct from Sydney, without going round Cape Horn, a course always taken, I consider it so far practicable that it only wants the trial to prove it so. It was once attempted by some vessel to get round by Tassman's Head, but owing to the strong southerly winds it could not be done, and they bore up round Cape Horn. That point of Dieman's Land was then judged to be the southernmost point of New Holland, and from its lying in so high a latitude, the south and west winds were found commonly to blow very strong, which prevented vessels from weathering it, and deterred others from the attempt. But it being now ascertained, that the southernmost point of New Holland barely exceeds the 39th degree of S. latitude, and that it has been rounded from the eastward at different times, it follows, that there is so great a scope between the western side of the Straits and Nuytsland, or King George the Third's Harbour, that if vessels could lay a W. by N. or even a W.N.W. course they could nearly clear it. In my passage out, after having got into the parallels of 38° and 39° S. I had much wind from the N. and some from the E. therefore should vessels get into the parallel of 36°, it is most likely they will find variable winds, though generally prevailing from the S.
This idea of weathering the land, or western shoulder of New Holland, appeared to me to be so easy, that I made an offer of my service in conducting the Norfolk brig through those Straits to the Cape of Good Hope, in preference to carrying her round Cape Horn. This offer I made to Governor King before my departure for England, on hearing of his intention to send this vessel to the Cape, but, after some delay, I was obliged to shift for myself, as he declined the offer.
Time will shew what will be the advantage of this discovery; in the meanwhile the knowledge of a safe and commodious port in the Strait, that may be run into at pleasure, cannot but be useful to vessels bound from England and the Cape, as it often happens, that after they round Van Dieman's Land, they meet with easterly winds, accompanied with heavy weather, in all seasons of the year. Should they be inclined to keep the sea, it will be of consequence to merchant ships, as they then will shorten their passage. It may seem somewhat extraordinary that so fine a bay as Jarvis's Bay (as I have had occasion to mention) should have been hitherto no further observed than by receiving a name. It certainly merits being completely surveyed, and laid down, so that vessels in proceeding up to Port Jackson, and meeting with contrary winds, might run into it without fear. Port Stephens, likewise to the northward of Sydney, is but very little known on our Charts, and though less easy of access, and smaller in magnitude, it has, nevertheless, great advantages attending it, especially with vessels forced past Port Jackson, and under the necessity of buffeting the weather until it proves more favourable. I am confident an enterprising man would find his account in obtaining surveys of these ports.
But to return to the Straits: we proceeded to make a survey of the coast from Western Point to the Southern Point of New Holland, named by Mr. Bass, Wilson's Promontory, which we obtained for a distance of 70 miles. The weather was unsettled, winter being now far advanced, and I found little more was to be done in the way of survey. The wet was prejudicial to the instruments, the suddenness of the gales prevented us from keeping constantly as near the shore as was necessary; and, in short, I was fully convinced that winter is a very improper season for making surveys of an unknown coast: I therefore resolved to make the best of my way for Sydney.
Being close off the Promontory, we found behind the southern point of it, a little to the eastward, three small sandy beaches, the middle one forming a little bay, which a small craft might anchor in, should she meet with northerly or westerly winds. But as the Promontory is entirely open to the south, if vessels can get round it, they will find better shelter under Cape Liptrap, which affords a good one from easterly winds, as well as from the northward. As we ran in sufficiently far to see the whole extent, we found the bottom of the Bight a fine sandy beach with some hummocks on it. I therefore imagine vessels bound from Western Point and its vicinity to Sydney will find it useful, when meeting with strong winds from the eastward. This place, I had, in the passage out, named King George's Sound, but I scarcely think it deserves the appellation.
Having bore up, after dark, to the eastward of the Promontory, I ordered the shore to be kept on board, in order to observe any particular that might occur. In the night we were warned of the ground by the keel's lifting up, from the danger of which, after heaving them up, and hauling the vessel close off on a wind, we were presently relieved. This place was full of sand shoals, some of which the native Euranabie pointed out to me that were breaking; near, there appears to be a small inlet, which had received the name of Shoal Inlet from Mr. Bass. And here is another proof which I had of the very great utility of the sliding keel; for it is more than probable that the shoals would have brought us up in a situation more difficult to have extricated ourselves from than the spot where we touched. I would recommend keeping on the outside of four small islands lying together, which will be seen, after passing the Promontory, and to which, on my passage out, I had given the name of Moncur's Island, not suspecting a cluster of islands was there.
On the 4th May we were in sight of Cape Dromedary, bearing at noon S.W. half S. distant 16 or 17 miles. We had now much variable, wet, and squally weather, and after having the next day at noon got an observation in 34° 40' S. there came on a stout gale from the N. and E. which on the 6th had driven us back into lat. 36° 8' S. Cape Dromedary then bearing E. by S. seven or eight miles. From every allowance I could possibly make, I found the current had, at least, set us fifty miles back to the southward. I think it necessary to mention this circumstance, as I judge the current has no particular course along the coast; but most probably changes with the wind. On my passage out I found a strong drift from the southward along the coast towards the north; and I know some have imagined the current running against the wind, raises that short heavy swell found along the coast of New Holland, but except that particular fact, I have not any further proof to offer upon this head. When abreast the mouth of the Straits, we found that commotion in the sea, which led first to a conjecture that there was an opening in the land from east to west. Governor Hunter, in his printed Journal, pages 124 and 125, observes upon the probability of such an opening between the latitudes 39° and 42° S. That gentleman, therefore, was the first who ever suggested such an idea, and, no doubt, encouraged the search for it, which the enterprising spirit of Mr. Bass, before-mentioned, effected, giving his own name very deservedly and justly to the Strait. Through a succession of bad weather, and after being obliged to put into Botany Bay for twenty-four hours, we arrived at Port Jackson on the 14th May, 1801.
I had not, from the time of my departure, a sick man among my ship's company, one man only excepted, whose skull had been fractured. He found himself somewhat ill, from the fatigue and constant wet weather we experienced during the voyage, but recovered soon after we came in, without any assistance from medicine. The unfavourableness of the weather prevented me from completing the whole of my instructions; but I had the satisfaction whilst in Botany Bay to learn, by a letter from Governor King, that he was well pleased with what I had done.
The Lady Nelson was now ordered to receive on board Lieutenant-Governor Colonel Paterson, and convey him to Hunter's River, which, from the abundance of coals found on its banks, has obtained the name of Coal River. The object of this voyage was to make a survey of the river, to gain a knowledge of its natural productions, and whatever else might appear worthy of observation. Having all things in readiness, we set sail on the 10th of June, with the Frances schooner, which latter vessel was to be loaded with coals. With Colonel Paterson, we received on board Dr. Harris, Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, Ensign Barreillier (the Surveyor), and a number of workmen and labourers, for the purpose of cutting and sawing timber, digging and loading coals, and other necessary works. With us likewise went one of the natives, named Bangaree. At the mouth of the harbour we fell in with the ship Cornwallis, having convicts on board from England; and on the 11th at noon we had an observation in the lat. 33° 35' S. the north head of Broken Bay bearing W. by S. distance 10 or 12 miles.
On the next day the weather was variable, and having had a person sent on board as a pilot, who had lately sailed from Sydney to the river for coals, I thought I could rely on his knowledge of the place, but herein I proved to be mistaken. He was near entering a wrong place, being deceived by the appearance of an island,* Hunter's, or Coal River, having one at its entrance; and as we had passed a place called Reid's Mistake (which lays to the northward of Broken Bay, and having an island before it, had deceived a man of that name for the entrance of Hunter's River), I thought this man, officially sent as a pilot, might be right. I had taken an observation, and did not find the latitude agree with that given me for Hunter's River, but our pilot supposed himself there, and was not convinced of his error till we got within half a mile of the island. As we were in 17 fathoms water, and the weather was fair, I got my boat out, and Dr. Harris went on shore to reconnoitre the place. In the meantime I brought up with the kedge, and set my people to fishing, who caught a number of snappers and other fish. On Dr. Harris's return, he brought with him a native, who, on seeing the boat had run down to it, crying out several times, Whale Boat! and Budgerie Dick! or Good Dick,—a name we supposed had been given him by the people sent in search of those who ran away with the Norfolk, as before mentioned. This man had some fish with him, which he threw into the boat first, and then jumped into it himself, without the least hesitation. The report which Dr. Harris made on board was, that not the least appearance of any river was to be discerned; but the sea broke very heavily in an inlet behind the island.
[* The Plate shews the entrance of the River, with the Lady Nelson and the Frances schooner going up it.]
Our new acquaintance Dick, as soon as he got on board, continued his cries of Whale Boat! and in order to discover what he meant by them, I introduced him to Bangaree, with directions to the latter to question him on the subject. Bangaree pointed to him to sit down, which, I have observed before, implied that a stranger was received with friendship. It was in vain for me to desire Bangaree to proceed in his enquiries, there was another etiquette, which could not be omitted, and this was a continuance in profound silence. This lasted for about twenty minutes, at the expiration of which time they by degrees entered into discourse, drawing nearer to each other, as they began to talk. We received, however, little information from Dick, whether it was that Bangaree did not well understand him; and I am inclined to think so, for some of our people, who were best acquainted with the language spoken by the natives round Sydney, were at the same loss.
The Lady Nelson & Francis Schooner entering Hunters or Coal River.
We got under weigh about three P.M. and at five saw another high perpendicular island, bearing N. eight or nine miles, which we took for the real entrance. In the morning we were well in with it; and at half past ten A.M. I went in the boat with Dr. Harris, in order to discover whether this was the place that we looked for. We found the entrance very narrow, with a reef on one side, and a very heavy surf breaking on it. On the other side were some heavy sand breakers, and the passage in very much troubled, and all but breaking. Finding this to be the case, I at one time put the boat's head round to the swell, and pulled out; but the risk of bringing in the two vessels, without exactly ascertaining the channel, made me determine to attempt it, and accordingly we pulled through, and carried from five to four and three and half fathoms with us close to the island. It was then just on the pitch of high water when we landed on the island, up the steep side of which, near the entrance, we clambered till we reached the top. This side is covered with grass, but the others are perpendicular, in a crumbling state, and falling by degrees into the sea. On the summit is a beautiful view of the river, interspersed with islands, and extending as far as the eye can reach. Here I hoisted an Union Jack, as a signal to the vessel that this was the right entrance of the River we were in search of. I must remark, that this island is well calculated for defending the River's entrance, and a proper place for erecting a signal tower or light-house. Between the island and the main there is an opening of about three cables' length, which is full of rocks, with a heavy surf breaking over them, the effects of which are felt from side to side of the river. On this side, therefore, it would be dangerous to attempt a passage with a vessel, since, should there be any channel found, it must necessarily be narrow and crooked; vessels then must go round the island in entering, as it appears by the Plate, the Lady Nelson and Frances schooner are doing. Opposite to this chasm the different strata of coals are discovered, exhibiting a checkered-like appearance. It should seem that this separation from the main has been produced by some violent convulsion of nature. The rocks, from the disposition in which they now stand, and the strata of coals on the island, shew the connection which once subsisted between the main land and it. The Colony of New South Wales cannot fail of reaping great advantage from a mine of coals so near to it, and so easy to be worked.
We returned on board the vessel, and set about towing and sweeping her in with all possible dispatch. At noon the latitude was, by observation, 32° 57' 54" S. the island, which we named Coal Island, bearing W.N.W. distant three or four miles. I compute the true latitude of the island to be 32° 55' S.
By the time we approached the entrance the ebb had set strong out, and ran with much force; however, by dint of warping, we brought up under the island for the night in three and a half fathoms water, within pistol-shot of the shore. At day-light we proceeded up to a saw-pit made for the purpose of cutting cedar, which is growing in abundance on the banks of that river, of a large size, and excellent quality, and came to abreast of it in three fathoms water, steadying the vessel by a hawser made fast to a tree on shore. The harbour is of several miles extent, and capable of containing many sail of shipping, and is well sheltered from every wind that blows.
Where the Lady Nelson first Anchored in Hunters or Coal River.
We immediately set about making the different arrangements for completing the object of our voyage. The Colonel and I went on shore to examine the different strata of coals, taking with us a miner, who pointed them out to us very distinctly, and we found them running from side to side of the mountain of various qualities and degrees of thickness. At low water, coals proper for fuel were to be gathered up from the reef before mentioned; and when the tide was up, we could work a pier. Accordingly, having orders to load the schooner with all expedition with coals and wood, I had the satisfaction to see her sail with a cargo of both on the 26th of June, eleven days after her arrival.
It may be imagined that coals were found in great plenty, when I mention that the schooner sailed with forty tons of coals on board, and that we had only one man employed to dig the mine. The spot where these coals are found is clear of tree or bush for the space of many acres, which are covered with a short tender grass, very proper for grazing sheep, the ground rising with a gradual ascent, intersected with vallies, on which wood grows in plenty, sheltered from the winds, forming the most delightful prospects. This place might serve as a station for the wood cutters and colliers; it affords pasture for sheep, its soil in general being good, though on the whole not so rich as on Western Port. Dr. Harris and Mr. Barreillier penetrated to some distance inland: they saw many kangaroos, and met with a native, who followed them some time, and then left them.
Our native Dick, already mentioned, thought proper to leave us in an excursion we made with him into the country. Colonel Paterson discovered some copper and iron ores, the latter strongly impregnated and rich in metal. The seine was hauled, and plenty of excellent fish caught, particularly the mullet, with a fish much resembling the herring, which I am inclined to think, like them, go in shoals. On an island in the harbour a tree is found in great plenty, the quality of whose timber much resembles that of the ash; and from the great numbers of them growing there, has given name to the island. Of this timber I had received orders to send a quantity to Sydney, and had brought out sawyers for that purpose; but as every object could not be at once accomplished, they were employed, in the mean time, in cutting down and sawing into planks, a tree, the bark of which is much like cork. The timber of this tree is light, close and durable, and promises to stand against the effects of worms on the bottoms of vessels. I had a boat built of this wood, which proved it to be good for such uses. This wood has much the resemblance of what is called wainscot with us. Mr. Barreillier's survey was all this time going on. Nearly abreast of the vessel was a Creek, which Colonel Paterson and I penetrated for a considerable way up. On its banks we found part of a net, made of strong grass, apparently the work of an European. We likewise found marks of fires having been lighted there; and in the stream the remains of a weir, the work of the native inhabitants, this being one of their principal devices for taking fish. We concluded the net had belonged to the unfortunate men who ran away with the Norfolk sloop, as mentioned before, it therefore became necessary to caution our out-parties against a surprize either from them or the New Hollanders.
On examining Ash Island, we found many large timber trees intermixed with the ash, one of which I took on board as a specimen, which has much the likeness of hickery, and may be applicable to many of the purposes that wood is used for. I found several other woods, some of them light and pretty; and, in particular, a tree, the leaves of which sting like nettles: this acquired from us the name of the Nettle Tree. The native Dick now made his appearance with two of his companions, after an absence of eight and forty hours. One of these had been at Sydney, and was known to Colonel Paterson, by which means a kind of conversation was kept up. The fires of the natives and many individuals of them were to be seen on the side of the harbour opposite to Ash Island. We went up an arm of the river, in order to reach the place where they were; but after crossing the harbour, were disappointed in the design. We found the harbour here full of flats and shoals, over many of which we were under the necessity of draging the boat by main strength. Here we found trees incrusted with oysters, and the shore covered to a great depth with oyster-shells, from which lime might be made on the spot, should it at any time be required for the purposes of building. We daily hauled the seine, and often took mullets of a very large size. Our several works went vigorously on, and now it was that a party was sent to work on Ash Island in felling and sawing that timber. These took with them a week's provision, with arms and ammunition. Their orders were to be on the watch against any surprize, either from the Norfolk crew or the natives; and in their intercourse with the latter to conduct themselves with prudence and moderation, and by no means to provoke an attack from them.
I visited the coal mine in company of Colonel Paterson, and we were shewn by the miner several veins, which he had discovered, of a most excellent quality. Amongst the rocks we found plenty of what is called liver of iron. Here were a variety of birds to be seen, and the wild cat, of which animal, the men working the coals had taken some. They seemed to partake more of the nature of the stoat or weasel, like that animal sucking the blood of every thing they caught, and preying chiefly in the night-time.
On the 22d, Colonel Paterson went, attended by a party and the miner, to make an examination of the island. At the same time, Mr. Barreillier, Dr. Harris and myself, sounded the entrance of the harbour. The coal found on the island appeared to be of an inferior kind, called by the colliers chilters. It had been the intention to load the coals here, from the supposition that they were easier got at: however, the inferiority of the coals turned the scale in favour of the place where the Frances took in her cargo, and where vessels could lie in perfect security.
An object now presented itself to our view, which exhibited the completest picture of wretchedness I ever beheld. This was a man wrecked in a boat belonging to Sydney, with two other men, both of whom were dead; one of them by the hands of the natives, the other by eating greedily of the toad-fish, the prickly bones of which had choaked him. The poor wretch before us shed a flood of tears, and declared he was nearly starved to death, as he had subsisted for thirty-two days on what he could pick up along shore. It was fortunate for him he found us here, as he must inevitably have perished before he could have reached Sydney. I had him taken on board the vessel, fed with caution, and duly attended to, and in a few days had the satisfaction to ship him on board the Frances for Sydney, quite recovered.
On the 23d, Mr. Barreillier and the second mate went on shore, and in the woods met with a native, whom they conducted on board the vessel. He was an elderly man, of the class termed here, Bush Natives, who arc considered as an inferior tribe by the inhabitants of the sea coast. This man's legs and arms bore no proportion in length to the rest of his body, and his manner of ascending this ship's ladder was remarkable, and plainly proved he was much accustomed to climbing. His method was to stretch out his arms as far as he could reach, and then bring his feet to the same place with a jerk. His language was unintelligible to all on board, and the sounds he uttered strangely dissonant and uncouth, having, however, something plaintive, but without the least similitude to speech. He had the whole of his front teeth perfect, contrary to the usage of the other natives of New Holland, who cause one of the incisors of the upper jaw to be eradicated at an early period of their lives. Of this custom, Mr. Collins has given a particular account in his work, relating to the manners and customs of the New Hollanders. This man could by no means be persuaded to eat or drink with us. I offered him sugar, supposing, as the Bush Natives live much on wild honey, it might prove acceptable. I was on the point of putting him on shore, as he seemed so averse to partake of our food, and was otherwise so far from docility, when he espied a crow of the carrion species, which one of my people had shot: this he seemed to express a longing desire for, and on its being presented to him, he went with it to the galley fire, and heating it a little, devoured it greedily, entrails and all. On his going on shore, Colonel Paterson gave him a tomahawk, which he took, and appeared to know readily how to use it; however, he did not seem to have any name to give it, which was what we endeavoured to make him express; but placing it under his arm went off with it. The crew of the boat, in which he was conveyed on shore, willing to have a proof of his dexterity in the use of his new acquisition, pointed at a tree, as if they wished to see him climb it. He readily understood them, and making a notch in the tree with his instrument, placed his foot into it, continuing the same practice; thus he very nimbly ascended to the top, though the tree was of a great thickness, and without branches that could assist him in the ascent to the height of forty feet. From this tree he removed to another, by which he descended, and passing hastily through the bushes, was soon out of their sight. The natives have hatchets of their own, formed with sharp stones, and which they use for the same purpose, and I have indeed remarked that many of the trees are notched. Colonel Paterson, whose long residence in New Holland, and curiosity of observation, has enabled him to decide upon questions of this nature, declared that he never met with a native who differed so widely from the rest of the New Hollanders. It will probably appear to my Readers, that we have as yet but an imperfect knowledge of the natural productions of the neighbourhood of Sydney, and of its aboriginal inhabitants. This man appeared in a state of perfect nakedness, and was without the mark of the ornament described by Colonel Collins, of a stick thrust through the cartilage of the nose, of which he bore no mark. As there is thought to be a chain in Creation, beginning with the Brute and ending with Man, were I inclined to pursue the notion, I should be at a loss where to place my Bush Native, whether as the next link above the monkey, or that below it.
I have already mentioned the Frances having been dispatched with a lading of coals and timber for Sydney, on the 26th: she had on board a quantity of ash sawed out in proper lengths for making oars, which, from the trial we had made, it appeared to be better adapted for than the pine of Norfolk Island. This latter wood, though lighter, being very brittle, so that oars made of it are often broken short off. The ash cut on Ash Island is not, indeed, so light as English ash, but it must be considered as a valuable acquisition in a country where the greatest part of the timber, hitherto discovered, is of that heavy nature as to sink in water.
About this time I was joined by a party which had been sent several miles up the river in order to cut cedar for Mr. Commissary Palmer. These men, finding their stock of provisions running short, had set off with an intention of reaching Sydney by land, but seeing our vessel from the heights, they changed their resolution and came to us. They were nine in number, and made no little addition to those under my command; two of them were sick, and these I sent to Sydney on board the schooner, and would have ordered the rest to have made their passage by the same conveyance, but not being able to spare a guard with them, I did not think it safe, as they had discovered evident marks of a depraved and irregular disposition, from the time their stomachs were filled.
I now sent my carpenter and some hands on shore to build a large commodious but for the use of the colliers, whose labour went on briskly. Birds of various kinds were daily brought in, many of which were new to us, and among the rest a species of cuckow. This bird is larger than that of Britain; its feathers are a mixture of light brown and grey. We saw many of the hawk kind, and one in particular, commonly seen about the coast, which preys on fish. The goat sucker and snipe are likewise found here: of four-footed animals there was no plenty-the opossum, the flying-squirrel, the cat, and some others were all we saw. Fish was taken in great quantities, and of various kinds, particularly mullets, which were large and well flavoured. We caught also a species of jew fish, one of which weighed 56 pounds, and proved excellent eating. From the numbers of this fish, which escaped from the seine, I am inclined to think there is great plenty in this river.
On the 28th of June we proceeded further up the river, and moored in one of the branches about six miles from the entrance, where we lay securely sheltered from every wind that could blow. During this time, Mr. Barreillier was employed on his survey. Colonel Paterson, Dr. Harris, and Mr. Lewin, an ingenious draughtsman of subjects of natural history, who had joined me on the departure of the Frances schooner, went with a party up the river several miles to examine its course, and inspect the country. I found the woods here to abound with trees affording a light timber, and great quantities of the cabbage tree, some of which last I felled to try the eatable quality of it. I found this vegetable better in its natural state fresh cut than when boiled, it appearing to me that it was rendered unpalatable by cooking.
On the 4th of July the launch returned, dispatched with a letter from Colonel Paterson, dated from Schank's Forest, Pasture Plains, the name he had given to the spot which he had then made his quarters, at the distance of forty miles from the vessel. On the 7th I set off to join him, with a necessary supply of provisions, accompanied by Mr. Barreillier. The day we set out on proved to be very wet, so that when we pitched our tents at night, we found the greatest difficulty in lighting a fire. As soon as it was day-light we proceeded on our passage up the river, and found the country on both sides for the most part level and swampy near the river, but with distant views which were delightfully pleasant. The river made a very serpentine course, and for many miles up appeared to be as broad as the Thames at Kingston. From the marks left on the trees it should seem, that it is subject to be greatly overflowed at times, the cedar (or rather the mahogany of New Holland) growing near the river, appeared to have been immersed in water to the height of 40 or 50 feet. I am inclined to think that these floods must proceed from lakes in the vicinity of the mountains; the banks, though high in many places to a considerable distance, having the appearance of being overflowed.
On our way up we landed at a small Creek, which we traced for a considerable distance, coming to a gradual ascent, covered with the most luxuriant grass. Towards the land there was an extensive view from this height, of a fine champain country, sufficiently secure from the inundations of the river. This spot I think worthy of notice, as it might be made a convenient settlement. I named the eminence Mount Egerton, after a seat belonging to the Duke of Bridgewater, then living, of the same name. In the evening we found, by the sound of the bugle-horn, that we had reached the neighbourhood of the Colonel's head-quarters. We answered the welcome signal with the same instrument from our boat, and before it was quite dark we joined them.
The Colonel had erected a comfortable hut, and had been successful in killing a number of new and beautiful birds. The cedar grew here in great plenty, and to a very large size. Mr. Palmer's party had sawed many fine planks from these trees. Colonel Paterson, Dr. Harris, Mr. Barreillier, and myself, penetrated to the distance of thirty miles further up the river, in the course of which we met with many rapids, which obliged us to get out and drag the boats up. We had hitherto seen none of the natives, but discovered places where they had been, by the marks of their fires. We now descried some of them at a distance, who fled on our approach. We came to a spot which they had just quitted, and observed the marks of children's feet. The ground was covered with the shells of fresh water fish, of the sort found in the rivers of England and Scotland, and called the horse muscle, having sometimes small pearls in them.
We ascended two heights, which commanded views of the country for several miles on every side. To one of them Colonel Paterson gave the name of Ann's Mountain, after Mrs. King; the other he called Elizabeth's Mountain, that being the Christian name of Mrs. Paterson. We now found that we had got behind the range of mountains extending along the coast to the south and west. We likewise saw the coast of Port Stephens, and the chain of hills inland stretching in a direction towards the north-east. Between us and the hills was a space perfectly level for many miles, covered with trees and underwood, and to appearance swampy. The land on the south side of the river was interspersed with lagoons, on which we killed some ducks, but found them very shy. The country seemed not to be destitute of inhabitants, some of whom we descried at a distance. The river here meandered so greatly, that to have pursued its course the boats must have been pulled a whole day to have gained a direct distance of four or five miles from our present station. The time, therefore, limited for our departure for Sydney approaching very fast, and the survey still to be made not being less than seventy miles up the river, it was judged prudent not to proceed any further.
Passing the night upon the banks of the river, we descended it the next day to our former rendezvous, Schank Forest, Pasture Plains, where preparations were made for a general embarkation.
The next morning, I left Colonel Paterson in company of Mr. Barreillier, who then proceeded on the survey of the river. On our passage down it, we saw several natives with their canoes. As we passed the canoes we left some biscuits in them. In many of them we saw fires, and in some of them observed that kind of eatable to which they give the name of cabra: it appears to be abominably filthy, however when dressed it is not disagreeable to the taste. The cabra is a species of worm which breeds in the wood that happens to be immersed in water, and are found in such parts of the river wherein trees have fallen. Indeed, I have found no place I have ever visited, where this destructive worm makes greater ravages, either in salt or fresh water. They grow to a great size, and soon reduce timber to the appearance of a honeycomb. They are of a glutinous substance, and after being put on the fire, harden to the consistence of the spinal marrow of animals. When fire is not at hand, the natives eat them raw: some of them being found at a fire near one of the canoes, I tasted them on the recommendation of one of my men, and found them not unpalatable; so that hunger providing the sauce, they may be considered as no bad apology for a better meal. It must, however, be acknowledged, that the New Hollander feeds most filthily.
We saw several of the natives at a small distance, one of whom looked earnestly at us, and seemed to be waiting our approach. One of my men called to him in his own language to stop, which he appeared well inclined to do, but at length he got behind a tree, from whence he presented only his head and shoulders, brandishing a fish-gig in his hand. He waited our landing, and seeing we were unarmed, he threw down his muton, so they name the fish-gig, and came readily to us. For what reason I know not, (for we appeared without any marks of distinction) he addressed himself first to me, and taking from his forehead a small net, which their women weave from the fur of the opossum, he bound it round mine. In my turn I took out my pocket-handkerchief, and bound it round his head, which pleased him much, and we became from that moment the best of friends. I invited him on board the boat, and he readily accepted my invitation. When on board he was called to from the woods on the opposite shore by a number of voices, which surprized us a little, as we did not expect they were in such numbers. My new acquaintance called out in his turn to those on shore, and their cries immediately ceased. I have reason to think, they made enquiry, whether he apprehended any danger from us, and that he assured them he had nothing to fear, which quieted their alarm and made them easy.
Proceeding further we saw a flock of ducks, and I ordered one of the people to fire, which he did, and was lucky enough to kill two. Never did I witness stronger marks of surprize than were depicted on the stranger's countenance, when he heard the report of the gun, and saw the two ducks fall into the water. His astonishment was increased when he got on board the vessel; every thing he beheld seemed to fill him with wonder and amazement. During the time he stayed on board, he never quitted my side, and at the hour of rest he laid himself down near my bed place. I presented him with a small tomahawk, which pleased him very much, and he pronounced, with much earnestness the word, by which I then understood they call a hatchet mogo. He readily ate of whatever was set before him, but refused salt and mustard; spirits he would not touch, but sugar he took freely. He endeavoured to repeat our words after us; and, upon the whole, was infinitely more tractable than the native last described. He was an elderly man, short in stature, but well made: his arms and legs were long in proportion to his body, which was slender and straight. Having occasion to dispatch the first mate in a boat to Colonel Paterson, I took that opportunity of sending off my New Hollander, with directions that he should be landed on the precise spot from whence he was taken, which was accordingly done.
When the first mate was returning, he was surprized to find his passenger of the day before on the banks, who begged to be permitted to return to the vessel with him: he had a young lad with him, whom he desired might accompany him, and they were both brought on board. This lad appeared to be about 17 years of age; his arms, legs and thighs were remarkably long: he made me understand that he wished to have a mogo, and I soon found that I could not make a more acceptable present to a native of New Holland. Mr. Lewin, the draughtsman of natural history, before mentioned, sketched out the portraits of these two, and I was promised a copy of this design, but was never able to procure either copy or original. Our old and new acquaintance passed one day with us on board, after which they were both landed near the spot where they had been first seen. They were perfectly naked, and exceedingly well pleased when they understood that their likenesses were about to be taken, for which purpose they submitted themselves to be placed in any attitude that was thought proper. It is observable, that all the New Hollanders are proud of being noticed in the same manner.
On the 19th we were rejoined by Colonel Paterson, with the whole of his party. The Colonel had explored a branch of the river, on the banks of which he found a species of flax growing, which he thought was valuable. He had collected specimens of many rare and uncommon plants, particularly some varieties of the fern tribe; but, unfortunately, was in one moment deprived of the fruits of his skill and industry. His servant had made use of the bundle of plants as a pillow, and having heedlessly placed it too near the fire, it was soon in a blaze, and he was awaked only time enough to save his face from being scorched by the flames. The Colonel possesses a general knowledge of botany, and every branch of natural history. His politeness and attention to make every thing agreeable to me, during the short voyage we made together, demand the tribute of my acknowledgement and thanks.
We were now growing short of provisions, and no vessel arriving from Sydney, we set about making preparations for our return thither. There was now a small establishment made for the colliers: I had built them a convenient but to shelter them; I left them a boat and seine, with what provisions I was able to spare, besides arms, ammunition and tools. We took our departure for Sydney on the 22d of July, 1801, and arrived there on the 25th following, having met with nothing worth recording during this passage of three days.
I now proceed to lay before my readers such cursory observations as I have been able to make with respect to this flourishing Colony, and its aboriginal Inhabitants.
New South Wales is now known to be separated from Van Dieman's Land by a Strait, as has been fully ascertained in the Voyage related in the foregoing sheets, the Lady Nelson being the first vessel that ever entered these Straits from Europe, and passed through them to Port Jackson.
New Holland, which comprehends New South Wales, is an island of very large extent, lying between 10 and 39 degrees, nearly, of southern latitude. From its vast extent its climate is various, and future settlers will be able to make their choice. It may be presumed capable of producing whatever is raised [i]n the same degrees of northern latitude, which will include silk, wine, oil, fruits, grain, &c. It has a number of safe and capacious harbours. The horned cattle which had strayed into the woods are now greatly multiplied; and it is matter of regret that swine have not strayed in the same manner, as it is probable, from the prolific nature of that animal, the breed of wild hogs would by this time have been considerable. Sheep are found to succeed well; and the specimens of yarn spun from their wool, and brought over here, have been much approved of. The breed of horses is good, and the encrease of that useful animal is great. Materials proper for the purposes of dyeing are plentiful, and fustick is now cut in Hunter's River. Iron is found in the neighbourhood of Sydney, and in other parts. The salutary effects of the air of New South Wales is perceptible in that part of the dwellers brought over in banishment: these are observed to become, in a short time, stout and healthy, and their offspring vigorous and promising. The small-pox, that dreadful scourge of the human race, which has proved so fatal at the Cape of Good Hope, and other Settlements, has been hitherto unknown in New South Wales, for which reason inoculation has never been practised here: when vaccination is introduced, it will effectually remove all apprehensions of the disease in future. I have mentioned marks like those remaining after the smallpox have been observed upon some of the natives; and it is certain they are subject to a disorder which has the like symptoms. It is, morever, remarkable that this disorder is known amongst them by a different name from that they give to all other eruptions on the skin. One of the natives was taken into the Hospital with this disease upon him, which though not caught by any European, infected an African negroe who died of it.
In speaking of the New Hollanders, I should be under the necessity of gleaning after Colonel Collins, as that Gentleman has given the fullest and most accurate account of their manners and customs; I shall therefore confine my observations on these natives, as far as they agree in their habits and manners with other Savage Nations.
The native of New Holland is found in the genuine state of nature; he goes perfectly naked in winter as well as summer. His wants, being those of all the animal creation, are easily supplied; these are, food and rest: the former is supplied to him by the elements of earth, air, and water, the latter he finds when and wheresoever he chuses to seek it. That labour which is so necessary to procure him food, together with its simplicity, contributes to the enjoyment of the soundest and most refreshing rest at the hour he is inclined to take it. He has then only to seek for the longest and driest grass, and the tree that affords the most shelter. This when he is ranging the woods alone; but when he is with his horde, he stretches himself at ease before a blazing fire, and is protected from the storm which is howling over his head in a wigwam, or slight hut, raised with a few branches.
Such being the uniform course of his life from day to day, and from year to year, his stock of ideas must necessarily be very small; and his language, as he can have very little to communicate or to discuss, must be greatly circumscribed; confined to a very few words, liable to be exchanged for new ones as objects arise or vary from time to time. This being considered, it will not appear strange that there should be no settled nor fixed speech prevailing amongst the natives of New Holland; and it will account for what has been thought matter of astonishment and wonder, that the New Hollander coming from one part appears to find a difficulty in conversing with the native of another, though perhaps separated at no very great distance. In the course of the foregoing narrative, the Reader will find a relation of interviews betwixt the natives of distant parts, wherein the difficulty herein remarked upon has occurred.
If their ideas are narrowed, their ingenuity and invention must be equally so; and the reason of this is, that in reality the New Hollander has little or nothing to excite the talents of invention and ingenuity. To take a fish visibly gliding along the clear stream, the first suggestion that naturally occurs is to arrest it in its passage with a stone, or some sharp instrument. The shadow of the stone, as the New Hollander has experienced, alarms the nimble fish, which then escapes him, the sharp instrument therefore answers his purpose better; and such an instrument he generally carries with him. It is a slender stick of the lightest wood he knows, and made not unlike our fish-gig. The spear, which is fashioned to a point with a flint-stone or oyster-shell, is the weapon with which he defends himself against an enemy, and it is an engine to catch birds. These instruments are all that is necessary to supply him with every thing he wants to sustain life. If through his own labour, or otherwise by gift, or as a kind of family succession, he possesses a mogo or hatchet, wrought from a sharp flint, with a rough handle, he is completely enriched. With the help of the mogo he can climb the highest and most bulky trees to gather fruits, wild honey, or catch squirrels; he can cut branches to build up his hut, or by darting it dexterously at an opossum or kangaroo, if he chance to kill it, can feast on the game. It must, however, be acknowledged, that some of them have fish-spears not inartificially formed; and that they have javelins wrought with a degree of ingenuity. They also use the fishhook and line.
The rules of equity and justice are short, plain and simple; the code is written on the mind of him we call a Savage, or man in the state of nature. It is only in the intricate confusion of a state of society that digests, pandects and commentaries, with a distinct class of men to expound them, are necessary. The New Hollander needs them not: he is known to administer justice with the strictest impartiality. In cases where a canoe has been wantonly injured, he has been remarked to adjust with precision the reparation to the trespass. When the life of an individual has been taken away by treachery or malice, there are instances of the offender being capitally punished.
The New Hollander is naturally mild and placable, and, unless injured and aggrieved, quiet and inoffensive. He is not deficient in point of courage, and is skilful in the use of the club, shield and spear. To the honour of the Settlers of New South Wales be it recorded, that no instances of cruelty or oppression can be proved to have been exercised against the natives; but, on the contrary, every means used to render them comfortable and happy, and, if possible, bring them into a state of civilization, and lift them above their present groveling level of savage life. How different is this conduct from that of the nation which first colonized South America!
With this Work will be found a Plate representing a canoe of New Holland. The native seated in it, holding up a paddle, is a chief, a sort of troublesome fellow, named Pimbloy. The resemblance is thought to be striking by those who have seen him. The other represents Benelong, and is esteemed a good likeness of him. Benelong visited England with Governor Philips, and returned to New South Wales with Governor Hunter; and I am sorry to add, far from being improved by the voyage. He has unfortunately acquired a fondness for strong liquors, and is apt to take them to a great excess, at which time he proves very disorderly and ungovernable. He still retains the highest respect for Governor Philips, and discovers a grateful sense of the favours received at his hands.
PIMBLOY: NATIVE of NEW HOLLAND in A CANOE of THAT COUNTRY.
BENELONG: a Native of New Holland.
The mind of man in the state of nature seems to be the rasa tabula of the philosophers: it has not been wrought upon by education; it is wax, of the purest and softest kind, fit to receive and preserve any impression. It cannot be a wonder that manners so different, as those of the Settlers of New South Wales, should excite the admiration and imitation of the New Hollander. The same observation has been made of the natives of Otaheite, and other islands of the South Sea. Hence the attempts at mimicry, for which the native of New Holland is remarkable, may be accounted for. This talent he is allowed to possess in a very eminent degree: the gait, the gesture, the minutest particular which discriminates one individual from another, the New Hollander hits off instantly. The females likewise possess the same talent, confined to their own sex; and I have had all the ladies of my acquaintance exhibited before me, in a most striking manner, by a female native of New Holland; though, at the same time, I found a difficulty in prevailing upon her to display this talent. Probably she might have discovered that it gave offence to the ladies thus played off in public.
It is said in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, that "the Lord bath created the physician," and likewise, that "he hath created medicines out of the earth." This text must now, perhaps, be only applied to man in a state of nature, who relies on his own skill for relief in the few disorders to which he is subject, and has his antidote every where at hand.
In cases of wounds or contusions, the New Hollander seeks his cure in rest. But the subtle poison of the serpent is extracted by the following method:—He makes a ligature above the wound, and pressing on the part, extracts the poison with the blood by sucking the wound with his mouth. It is common with them, after extraordinary fatigue, to chafe the limbs with their hands, covering them profusely with saliva; and this operation seldom fails to relieve in such cases. Amputation is always performed, as has been already observed, by means of a ligature. In common with other savage nations, they have amongst them those who pretend to skill in the art of divination and working spells and charms.
Of the police of New South Wales I have little to say; and, perhaps, in cases where little favourable can be said, it is best to be silent. In entering upon such a subject, I may, moreover, be thought to venture out to sea without rudder or compass: and it may be asked me, how can you, who are a seaman, presume to decide upon such matters? Far be it from me to presume any such thing. As a Briton, I have conceived a strong partiality for that bulwark of British Liberty, a Trial by Jury: and I was sorry I could not discover any thing equivalent to such an institution in the proceedings of the Courts of Judicature in New South Wales. I am aware that I shall be told, it is an infant Colony, peopled by a particular class of Settlers, persons over whom, as they have forfeited their rights as good subjects, and are of suspicious character, it is good policy to hold the rod of coercion, which can only be done by a summary mode of administering justice, whereby the punishment shall speedily follow the crime, and offenders have little chance of escaping it: that, it is true, there are Settlers of a very different description, and when their numbers are increased, and the country more fully settled, a system of jurisprudence, approaching nearer to the British model, may take place. Be it so; and may this country prove as flourishing as it promises to be; persuaded as I am that every Settler in it might be happy here, if he had but the disposition to be so!
The chief object of my voyage to New South Wales having been accomplished, as has been shewn in the foregoing sheets, the mortifications and disappointments I met with, from which I had no prospect of relief, induced me to seize the first opportunity of leaving the country. And this presented itself with a vessel bound to the Cape of Good Hope with coals, and spars for topmasts, yards and booms, which voyage she was to make by rounding Cape Horn.
This vessel was an old Spanish brig taken on the coast of Peru by a Whaler, and sent into Port Jackson. She was called the Anna Josepha, which was the name of Mrs. King, the Governor's wife. She was represented to me as not able to perform the voyage, and every argument was used to deter me from sailing with her. But I was of a different opinion, and my judgment was by no means rashly or hastily formed; I had seen her hove down, and observed that her timbers were strong and well put together: she had been aground, which caused her to leak, but that did not increase upon her. Besides, as we intended going to the southward of New Zealand, there was time to see whether she made more water or not; moreover, it was a fine season, and in which fair winds might be expected. Others trusted their persons as well as property on board the vessel, and had I suffered myself to be intimidated from undertaking the voyage in her, her safe arrival afterwards would have proved a perpetual stain on my character as a seaman, and an officer. Indeed I was not much inclined to coincide with the sentiments of the people, who were thus forward in counselling me not to sail with the Anna Josepha; they had passed the same sentence of unseaworthiness upon the Lady Nelson, and I had very good reasons to praise her as a most excellent sailing vessel.
The Governor had at one time come to a resolution of sending the Norfolk brig round Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope, and I voluntarily offered my services for the same purpose in the Lady Nelson; however, the Governor afterwards changed his mind, and neither of the vessels went on the voyage.
Although, as has been before observed, so much pains was taken to deter me from sailing with the Spanish vessel, yet no offers were made me as an encouragement to stay behind: and when I was desirous to return home by way of India in the Cornwallis, every means were used to prevent it.
The Colony of New South Wales at this juncture experienced a scarcity of provisions: no bread could be had unless the value was bartered for with wheat; and that which is called the Staff of Life was by no means to be obtained with money. This regulation, however wise and prudent, was particularly hard upon me, who had not been there long enough to provide myself with a stock of wheat. One hundred weight of bread, and the same quantity of pork, was the whole I required as necessary provisions; the supply I wanted of spirits, tea and sugar, I could purchase, and of these articles there was a plenty. The pork I was lucky enough to purchase: as for bread, I am under many sincere obligations to John Palmer, Esq. Commissary, who, on learning my situation, sent me a bag, for which he would hear of no recompence. To Robert Campbell, Esq. I have the like acknowledgment to make for other necessaries; as also to Mr. Chapman, Secretary to the Governor. The Governor being sick at the time, I was prevented by that circumstance from making any application to him. To Richard Atkins, Esq. Judge Advocate, I have also many acknowledgments to make on account of the particular friendship and hospitality which he has shewn me, and of which I shall ever retain a grateful remembrance.
Having remained since the 22d of July, I sailed on the 9th of November, 1801, and got safe out of the harbour of Port Jackson with the Anna Josepha, and bid adieu to this country.
I could here transcribe from the log-book a tedious detail of heavy seas, unfavourable weather, and bad accommodation on board a leaky vessel, but shall content myself with observing, that I experienced all I have mentioned in this last voyage. The course from Port Jackson round Cape Horn is a beaten track and well known. We soon got to the southward of New Zealand, and about the beginning of January made the land about Cape Horn to the northward of the Isles De Fonzos. As we had had for some time a strong northerly wind, we passed between them and the main, rounding Cape Horn within half a mile of the shore. Cape Horn is a bold steep rock, having near it two other rocks a little to the northward, which being perpendicular have an appearance not unlike columns. As we met with baffling winds that prevented us from passing through the Strait of Le Mair, we sailed along the southern side of Staten Land. Off the land we met with very heavy flurries of wind; from which circumstance, and the passage we had made, I am warranted in affirming, that the timber cut in Hunter's River is well adapted for the purpose of making masts; its grain is long and elastic, and it is besides a light wood, though not so much so as the pine of Norway: there is, however, no great difference in respect of weight betwixt them, and until closely examined, it may pass very well for the red pine. This wood was first discovered by a Spaniard brought to New South Wales from the Cape of Good Hope; he was a ship's carpenter, and was now on board the Anna Josepha. When I conversed with him on the subject, he assured me that the same sort of timber grew on the coast of Peru, and from its elastic nature was considered there as peculiarly well adapted for masts. By this man's advice trial was made of it, and it answered the character he gave it. Every one who sees this timber will be able to judge from its appearance and weight, that what is here set down is no more than truth. I thought it a duty to bring home a small specimen of this wood, which has been submitted to the inspection and consideration of the proper officers of Government.
On the 21st of January 1802, having before intended to touch at Falkland's Islands, we came safe to an anchor in Hope Bay, or Little West Point Harbour.
I must observe here, that we found Arrowsmith's Chart very correct with respect to Cape Horn and Falkland's Islands; the harbour I have just mentioned is named on it Hope Bay, but the people who frequent these islands generally called it West Point.
Our intention had been first to touch at a cluster of islands to the eastward, called New Islands by the Americans, who are the most constant visitors of Falkland's Islands. On New Islands are found plenty of goats and hogs. They lie about thirty miles S.S.W. by compass, of Hope Bay, as a N.N.E. course carried us from them clear to the entrance of West Point. They are distinguished by a particular saddle island and a bluff standing separate from each other. They are a little to the northward of Beaver Island, and will be easily found by these two remarkable islands just mentioned.
As it is of the greatest consequence to Mariners, when in want of water or refreshments, to obtain every possible information in order to secure a port amongst this foul-weather groupe of islands, which purpose may be defeated by the smallest oversight, I think it may not be unacceptable to set down here a few Remarks made in this run.
Having made New Islands, the westerly wind, which generally prevails, blowing very strong and in squalls, would not permit us to anchor; we were therefore under the necessity, either of making the harbour of West Point, or running in the night through a passage among the Jasons, well known to be full of rocks and shoals, many of them not laid down in any Chart. I have before observed, that thirty miles N.N.E. by compass, brought us to the entrance of West Point harbour. In this run there are, on the right hand, a few small flat islands called Pass Islands; these ought to be kept on board near enough to see the surf breaking on them; and soon after a remarkable island, with a steep side, will present itself, having the appearance of a split in the middle, which has given it the name of Split Island. Here we observed the latitude at noon to be 51° 14' S. when it bore E.N.E. by compass, distance three miles. The Split must be brought to bear S. by W. running in, and N. by E. coming out, observing this, a vessel will find itself in the fair way; and right a-head coming in, or right a-stem going out, a sight will be had of West Port entrance, making at first like three hummocks, to the right of which is the mouth of the harbour. The small harbour on the left is preferable to the larger on the right, though anchorage will be found in both, but fresh water may more readily be had in the little harbour. Both these form together nearly an oval, divided by the passage which runs directly through where the tides of flood and ebb alternately enter. A vessel must therefore haul close round the rocks on the south side to get into the little harbour for the ebb tide, with which she must go in, unless it blows very strong so as to enable her to stem the flood; both tides here running with great rapidity, and when it blows hard raising a confused sea. There is a sandy beach at the top of the harbour, off which a vessel may chuse her depth of water to anchor in. In going out of the harbour the Northern Passage is most eligible; and a westerly wind with a course N. by E. by compass will carry a vessel out, provided she get under weigh at the first of the ebb. Five small perpendicular rocks, called the Needle Keys, appear when out, standing together, bearing N.E. by E. or thereabouts, from the harbour's mouth. It is best to leave them on the right; but should there be little wind, and the tide strong, as was the case when we passed them, a vessel may go close to the right of them. The tide must be attended to, as it runs strongly betwixt them. The water close to them is very deep, as we were carried by the tide near enough to throw any thing upon them. The bottom is very foul, so that if an anchor is let go it is a chance if it is ever recovered; and should the wind continue light, the tide of flood making, a vessel may anchor at Sedge Island, if she can get as far down, where ten fathoms water will be found, with a sandy bottom, within two or three miles of the shore. From Sedge Island a N. by E. course will carry a vessel clear out to sea.
It is proper to observe here, that if a vessel is obliged to leave the Needle Keys on her left hand, the nearer she keeps to them the better; and even to haul over on the larboard side after she is past, as she will have the more room to weather a ledge of rocks lying a considerable distance out from Saunders Point, as is shewn in Arrowsmith's Chart. This passage is much preferable to running through the Jasons.
Falkland's Islands have been described by many voyagers, whose stay there gave them better opportunity of observation. I shall just observe that they lie very convenient for being touched at on long voyages, when there happens such a necessity for a supply of sea stock as we experienced.
The soil is light, producing a strong grass, known by the name of fussack, which if set fire to, the turf will burn for a considerable time, and notwithstanding heavy rains is not to be extinguished. I saw but little timber, and even brush wood did not appear to be plenty. Few birds are to be seen, but geese and penguins are in great numbers.
The penguin has been often described, and must be known to most of my readers. It is without wings of sufficient size to support its weight in the air, but it runs pretty fast by the help of its short wing in an erect posture. The penguin forms burrows in the earth where it rests, and marching in bodies in the morning to feed, returns to them at night to rest. One of them is generally found near the retreat, seemingly placed there as a centinel. If you approach near his post, he gives an alarm and retreats, returning when you are at a distance.
We found the geese excellent eating, without the least taste of fish, as they live here on grass and sea weed; and accordingly we derived a very seasonable assistance from them. They are not shy, and will suffer you to come very near them before they remove, and then not very fast. We brought some of them with us alive to the Cape. The gander is easily distinguished from the goose, the former being perfectly white, and the latter prettily speckled with black. We lived chiefly on them whilst we staid, making our soup with them; and we killed some hundreds for our sea stock; which had we not done we must have perished. Our method of preserving them was to split them down the back, wash them well in salt water, sprinkle rock salt over them, then expose them to the air to dry, and afterwards pack them up in barrels, with a proper quantity of salt to keep them for the voyage.
Celery I found growing plentifully here, probably introduced by former visitors to these islands. It proved a very useful vegetable for us, and we used it very freely on board our vessel. Its antiscorbutic virtues are well known, as well as its usefulness for culinary purposes.
We found an American ship lying here, called the Washington of Nantucket: her commander, Jedediah Fitz, was so obliging as to assist us with a small supply of bread, which we could not but consider as a particular kindness done to us, as being bound to China, with a cargo of seal skins which he had been successful in taking, he had a long voyage before him. He informed me that the American sailors had discovered potatoes eaten raw to be a very powerful antiscorbutic, and that their whaling vessels constantly took a quantity with them to sea to eat raw, as an antidote against the scurvy. He had planted a garden here, as was the custom with vessels visiting this place, and he brought some potatoes fresh dug from it, which he recommended me to taste, after setting me an example. I complied, and must say I have before taken a more unpalatable medicine. He made use of the young leaves of the common dock, boiling them as cabbage, to eat with his meat. He stripped the leaf from the rib or stem in the middle, which he said had a purgative quality. He made no use of the celery, as he thought the dock was preferable to it. I dined with him on board his ship, when a dish of the latter vegetable was served upon table, and upon eating it I thought its taste not unpleasant.
Some of our people, as I suspect, had wantonly set fire to the fussack, and there being a breeze the flames spread with great fury, so that our endeavours to extinguish it proved ineffectual. Although we had a heavy rain for two days, yet I observed it was still burning. When I considered that this was the season for hatching, I was greatly concerned to think of the destruction amongst the geese, penguins, and other fowls, which such mischievous wantonness must occasion, especially as future visitors, in the same distress as we were, might suffer inconveniences through it.
The rocks here are remarkably slippery, so that it is a proper precaution against accident to be provided with what the sailors term mockasons, which are sandals cut from the seal or other soft pliable skin, and wore as shoes. For want of this preventive against slipping I had nearly met with a fatal accident; for as I was in pursuit of a flock of geese, I fell with my piece loaded, which went off, and the powder-horn slung under my arm exploded at the same time. It was a ship's powder-horn, and contained nearly a pound of powder, but, providentially, I escaped without any other hurt than my hands being slightly scorched, and my hair a little singed.
By this time our crew were pretty well refreshed. None of them had been attacked with the scurvy, notwithstanding the poorness of their diet, their being almost constantly wet from the quantity of water the vessel shipped, and their labour at the pump. I had had some painful apprehensions of their proving sick, and had endeavoured to prevent it by keeping them as clean and dry below as possible, and making them shift themselves frequently. These precautions, with the necessary exercise of the pump, I have the satisfaction to think contributed to keep them in health. And I am inclined to believe, as fumigations are found to be of service in the correction of foul air between decks, smoaking tobacco has its use; I would therefore rather encourage men to smoak tobacco than to chew it.
All things being ready for our departure, we sailed from Falkland's Islands for the Cape of Good Hope on the 27th of January, with a favourable wind, which began to fail us as soon as we reached the island of Tristan da Cunha. We were now becalmed; and this was our situation from about the middle of February to nearly the latter end of March—a dreadful interval of time!—the like of which I most devoutly pray I may never again experience.
We had reckoned upon falling in with the Cape early in March, and our stock of provisions began to fall short much about that time; and further to add to our distress, our water-casks leaked, and we had lost a part of our water. It will be recollected that we were ill provided with bread on our first sailing from Port Jackson. By the end of February this necessary article of our provisions totally failed, and I found myself reduced to a single biscuit. When we had no other prospect before us than perishing through hunger and thirst, we were partially relieved, as the Reader will find in the sequel.
The first vessel we fell in with was an English brig, belonging to a Gentleman who had shewn me much civility when I was at the Cape of Good Hope on my passage out, and who happened to be then on board. The commander, Mr. Atkins, and this Gentleman, whose name is Houghton, of the firm of Houghton and M'Donald, a house of the first respectability at the Cape, sent us several articles, which, circumstanced as we were, were above all price. I declined their offers of joining them, as I thought I should reach the Cape in a short time, and I repented afterwards that I did not join them.
The calm continuing we were soon again reduced to an allowance barely sufficient to keep us alive. Our stock of water, in particular, was short; and as the weather was warm we experienced great distress from the want of it. I often walked the deck till I was thoroughly fatigued, that I might sleep through weariness in spite of extreme thirst. I now discovered how little nature may be satisfied with even to esteem that little a luxury.
Our good fortune at length drifted us in sight of an American ship bound to the Cape, called the Ocean, of Newbury Port. The commander of this ship, whose name is Dalton, sent to our relief a little bread, and some meat. Having been long at sea, and meeting with calms, his stock of water ran short, so that he could spare us only a small supply, and that he cheerfully sent us.
I agreed with Captain Dalton to carry me to the Cape in his vessel; for though we had not yet made the land, a good wind for forty-eight hours would have carried us within sight of Table Bay. But the calm still continued, and lasted ten days from this time, during which we drifted to the northward of Saldanah Bay, and the Anna Josepha was again relieved by Captain Dalton. The very seals seemed to partake of the listlessness of the elements of air and water. They lay sleeping on the smooth surface of the sea; so that the crew of the Anna Josepha easily took them with the harpoon, and derived the principal part of their subsistence from them.
We now got in with the land, and a favourable wind of five hours would have run both vessels into Saldanah Bay. The Anna Josepha was necessitated to send her boat off to procure water, if any was to be had. On the 29th of March a breeze springing up, the ship I was in reached Table Bay on the 1st of April, 1802, and two days after the Anna Josepha arrived, having lost a man, who had been driven by hunger to eat something that killed him in a few hours.
I had lived so low for such a length of time that I found myself very feeble and weak; and now being on shore, partaking of a plentiful diet, I experienced violent spasms in my stomach, attended with a giddiness and nausea. However, as I recovered my strength, these symptoms left me, and I was restored to my former good state of health without the help of medicine. By the favour of Sir Roger Curtis, I embarked for England on the 12th of April, on board his Majesty's ship Imperieuse, Captain Rowley, to whom, and to whose officers, I am happy in having it in my power, in this public manner, to return my sincere thanks for their attention to me during the voyage, which was very successfully made.
The coals from New South Wales, brought to the Cape of Good Hope in the Anna Josepha, sold there for 36 rix dollars the ton. As news of a Peace had then arrived, the spars were not of such ready sale; but I have no doubt they were well sold. In the manner herein related did I make a circumnavigatory voyage of this globe of Earth. I accomplished it as far back as the Cape of Good Hope, in vessels which, according to the opinion of some who may be considered as competent judges, were not fit to go to sea. Whilst I had the command of the Lady Nelson she did not lose a single man, and she arrived at Port Jackson without the least damage in hull, masts, sails or rigging, which may in a great measure be attributed to her many excellent qualities.
If I have in the least contributed to the service of my King and Country, I am well satisfied. I had difficulties and disadvantages to struggle with, which those only can conceive who have found themselves in similar situations. My little vessel sailed on her voyage with no creditable report of her fitness for the purpose; and even her successful performance of it did not obtain her that praise which in my humble opinion she merits. To conclude, I must say, that I risked my life and character on the event of the voyage, and sailed from England with very little assistance, her inferior size and peculiar construction having deterred those who might have been of the most use from engaging to sail in her.
Certificates of the Officers of the
TRIAL CUTTER respecting the Qualities of that
WE the Officers of his Majesty's cutter, the Trial, do hereby certify, that the said Cutter with three Sliding Keels, does, from the effect of the Keels, tack, wear, steer upon a wind, sail fast, work to windward, and hold a good wind; and that the Keels work with ease, and are not attended with any inconveniency to the working of the vessel: And we also certify, that we see no difference in heaving up or down the Keels in blowing weather, or in a sea, but that they work equally well in all sorts of weather; and that these Keels are, in our opinion, a great improvement, and are still capable of greater improvements: And we further certify, that when the vessel rolls deep in a high sea, we do not observe that the Keels strain the vessel, the wells, decks, beams or sides, or are in the least attended with any bad consequences; but on the contrary, when down, make the vessel much easier, and prevent her rolling so quick: And we further certify, that we never were in any vessel of her size and draught of water, that sailed faster, or carried a greater press of sail, or made better weather: And we also certify, that such of the Seamen who have sailed in cutters, say, that they never were in one so dry, or that made such good weather: We further certify, that it is our opinion, that if the four bulkheads in the hold were taken away, and that her mast and sails were in proportion to her tonnage, and that she was coppered, notwithstanding her uncommon strength, she would sail much faster than she now does: And we also certify, that from the third instant to the date hereof, we have never been in company with any vessel, (the Alarm Custom-house lugger excepted) that we can with justice say has beat the Trial: We further certify, that we came into Teignmouth in order to satisfy ourselves, with respect to the condition of the wells and keels, before we reported the vessel to their Lordships; and having cleared the hold near them, do not find that they are in the least degree affected, or do leak, or are even damp: And lastly we certify, that we have attended strictly to the instructions given us by Captain Schank, and have found them, with his observations, to prove the utility of the Keels, and their effects on the vessel's working and sailing: All which we hope will meet with their Lordships' approbation.
|MICAJAH MALBON,||Lieut. and Commander.|
21st February, 1791.
Questions put by Captain SCHANK to Mr. WILLIAM MILNE, Master of His Majesty's Cutter, TRIAL, with his Answers thereto. 15th April, 1791.
Question. How long have you been at sea in the Trial?
Answer. Two months and an half.
Question. Did you understand the nature or effect of the Keels before I explained them to you?
Answer. I had very little idea of them.
Question. What opinion had you of them before you sailed and made trial of them?
Answer. My opinion was, after having heard you explain the nature of them, that they would have the desired effect.
Question. Does she steer as well as any other vessel you have been in with her Keels down?
Answer. She steers preferable to any vessel I ever sailed in when her Keels are down.
Question. Does she steer equally well with them all up?
Answer. She does.
Question. What do you observe to be the effect of the Fore-keel?
Answer. It makes her very quick in stays.
Question. What do you observe to be the effect of the After-keel;
Answer. With the After-keel she will wear with very little help of the rudder, and when going upon a wind, may be steered almost without the rudder.
Question. What do you observe to be the effect of the Main-Keel?
Answer. With the assistance of the other two it will make her go to windward with any vessel I have seen.
Question. Do you think, from what you have seen, that the Keels are attended with any danger whatever to the vessel?
Answer. None whatever.
Question. Do you foresee any danger that is likely to happen from them?
Answer. Not the least.
Question. Do you think she would sail as fast upon a wind, and go as well to windward, if she had not these Keels?
Answer. By no means.
Question. Is she a good roader; and do you think vessels so constructed will be better roaders than others?
Answer. She certainly is a good roader; and I am of opinion that vessels of her construction would ride preferable to any other.
Question. Does she tack quick?
Question. Does she wear quick?
Answer. She does.
Question. Are the Keels of service in wearing and tacking?
Answer. Of very great service in both.
Question. Is the After-keel of service in going before the wind, or scudding in a high sea, and a strong gale of wind?
Answer. It is of very great service.
Question. Did you ever see a vessel of her size with so flat a floor go as fast?
Question. What do you think of her in pitching?
Answer. She is remarkably easy.
Question. What do you think of her in rolling?
Answer. She is an easy roller.
Question. What do you think of her in point of stiffness?
Answer. She is very stiff.
Question. Do you see any difficulty in heaving up or down the Keels in different situations, such as upon a wind, a press of sail, &c.?
Answer. None whatever.
Question. What strength does it take to heave up or down the Keels?
Answer. One man can heave up or down the Fore or After Keel, and two the Main Keel.
Question. Supposing a rope to break in heaving up or down the Keels, do you see any danger attending it?
Question. Could it soon be repaired?
Answer. Very soon.
Question. Do you think vessels so constructed are in all respects as good as the present plans for merchant ships with respect to stowage safely against fire or damps?
Answer. I do think they are.
Question. Do you think the plan can be improved upon?
Question. Do you think vessels so constructed will be better in all respects than any other?
Answer. I think in time they will.
Question. Do you think that vessels with the improvement of separate bulkheads would be saved in case of springing a leak that you were not able to pump out?
Answer. They would.
Question. Do you see any fault to vessels so constructed either as ships of war or merchant ships; or do you know of any trade that such vessels would not answer?
Answer. I know of none.
Question. Supposing such a vessel was cast away, either on rocks or sands, do you think there would be a better chance of saving the lives of the crew and the cargo, than in any other vessel?
Answer. There certainly would.
Question. Would you prefer such a vessel to any other to go round the world in?
In consequence of a Request made to the Lords of the Admiralty by Captain SCHANK, that the TRIAL Cutter might be ordered into one of His Majesty's Ports, and there inspected, and the Officers examined touching her Qualities, their Lordships were pleased to issue the following Order.
Admiralty Office, 12th April, 1792.
WHEREAS Captain Schank bath, by his letter of the 7th ult. requested that His Majesty's armed vessel built with Sliding Keels, of his invention, may be ordered into one of His Majesty's Ports and taken into a Dock in order to examine whether the Keels are rubbed or worn, and whether the vessel or the wells are strained, and that the Officers may be examined touching the qualities of the vessel in the trials that have been made of her: and whereas we have thought fit to order Lieutenant Malbon to proceed with the said vessel to Woolwich for the purpose abovementioned, we send you herewith Captain Schank's said letter, and do hereby desire and direct you to cause the said vessel, on her arrival at Woolwich, to be taken into a dock, and fixed on blocks in such a manner as Captain Schank shall advise; and direct the Master Shipwrights of Deptford and Woolwich Yards with their Assistants, and also the Masters Attendant of those Yards, carefully to inspect and report to you the state in which they find her to be; as also the different qualities of the vessel, according to the best accounts they may be able to collect from her Officers in the various trials they have made of her; and you will also direct them to consider and report to you, whether the repairing of vessels so constructed will be attended with great difficulty, and whether they will be more or less expensive than vessels of the old construction: and when you have received and maturely considered the said Reports, and received such explanation from Captain Schank as you may think necessary, you are to transmit to us copies thereof, with your opinion of the advantages that may be derived to his Majesty's service from the invention above-mentioned.
Your affectionate friends,
|J. M. TOWNSHEND.|
In pursuance of this order the Trial cutter was taken into Woolwich Dock-yard and there inspected; and the Officers belonging to her were distinctly and separately examined: after which the following Report was made to the Navy Board by the several Officers empowered to inspect the vessel and examine the Officers:
Woolwich Yard, 25th April, 1792.
In obedience to your Order of the 16th instant, we have taken his Majesty's Armed Vessel into a dock, on blocks five feet high, and have very carefully inspected the Vessel, Wells, and Sliding Keels, and cannot discover the least defect in either.
We are of opinion, vessels so constructed will be a little more expensive than others, but may be repaired without any difficulty.
Inclosed you will receive the Questions put by us to the lieutenant and Master separately, with their Answers; and remain,
Your most obedient servants,
|(Signed)||J. GILBERT,||M. WARE,|
|J. DANN,||J. FRANKLAND,|
|RICH. PROWSE,||WM. RULE,|
Honourable Nary Board.
Questions put separately to Lieutenant MALBON, and Mr. WILLIAM MILNE, Master, of the TRIAL Cutter, with their Answers; being the Inclosure alluded to in the foregoing Letter.
Question 1. How long have you belonged to the Trial Cutter?
Lieutenant. Sixteen months.
Master. Sixteen months.
Question 2. What kind of a sea boat do you find her to be?
Lieut. A very good sea boat.
Master. A very lively vessel in a sea.
Question 3. Is she stiff in carrying sail?
Lieut. Very stiff.
Master. Yes, very stiff
Question 4. What effect do you observe the Keels to have on her?
Lieut. When they are all up she does not hold so good a wind.
Master. Keeping her to windward.
Question 5. Does she steer well with the Keels all down?
Lieut. Very well.
Master. Very well.
Question 6. Does she steer equally well with the Keels all up?
Lieut. Not so well as with them down.
Master. She does not.
Question 7. What effect has the Fore-Keel on her?
Lieut. It brings her about with heaving the After-Keel up.
Master. It brings her about with heaving the After-Keel up.
Question 8. What do you observe to be the effect of the After-Keel?
Lieut. It makes her wear quick by heaving the Fore-Keel up.
Master. The same answer.
Question 9. What effect has the Main-Keel?
Lieut. It keeps her to windward.
Master. The same answer.
Question 10. You have frequently been in company with his Majesty's ships and cutters?
Question 11. How do you think she sailed with respect to the said ships and cutters?
Lieut. Never was with any King's cutter that beat her.
Master. None of the King's cutters ever beat her.
Question 12. What ships and cutters do you remember to have tried with?
Lieut. The Nimble, Sprightly, Spider, Ranger, and Resolution cutters, the Salisbury, Nautilus, and Hyena ships.
Master. The Nimble, Sprightly, Spider, Ranger, and Resolution cutters, the Salisbury, Nautilus, and Hyena ships, and King Fisher brig.
Question 13. Did you try with them upon a wind?
Lieut. Yes; and was beat by none of them.
Master. Yes; and was beat by none of them, except the Ranger, which was not a fair trial.
Question 14. What vessels did you beat?
Lieut. The Resolution, Sprightly and Nimble cutters, and all the above-mentioned ships.
Master. All the above square-rigged vessels; and the Resolution, Sprightly and Nimble cutters.
Question 15. Do you find any difficulty in heaving up and down the Keels in different situations, such as a press of sail on a wind?
Lieut. Not any.
Master. Not any.
Question 16. What strength does it require to heave up or down the Keels?
Lieut. One man the Fore and After Keel, and two the Main.
Master. Two men the Main Keel, and one the Fore or After.
Question 17. Supposing a rope to break in heaving the Keels up or down, in what time can you replace it?
Lieut. In about three minutes the Fore or After Keel, and the Main nine or ten minutes.
Master. The Fore or After Keel in five minutes, the Main ten or fifteen.
Question 18. Does she tack quick?
Lieut. Very quick.
Master. Very quick.
Question 19. Does she wear quick?
Lieut. Very quick.
Master. Very quick.
Question 20. Are the Keels of service in wearing and tacking?
Question 21. What rate is your fastest sailing upon a wind?
Lieut. Nine, and nine and an half knots.
Master. Nine knots.
Question 22. What rate is your fastest sailing before a wind?
Lieut. Ten knots.
Master. Ten knots.
Question 23. Suppose the vessel was to lose her keels on a lee-shore, do you think you could work her off if she could carry sail?
Master. If she carries all her sails she will; but under a double-reefed main-sail she will only hold her own.
Question 24. What quantity of iron or shingle ballast have you on board?
Master. Eighteen tons of iron, but no shingle.
|(Signed)||J. GILBERT,||M. WARE,|
|JOHN FRANKLAND,||JAS. DANN,|
|WILLIAM RULE,||RICH. PROWSE,|
AFTER the Trial cutter had been inspected at Woolwich Yard, she left that place, and was proceeding to her station at Plymouth, when James Templer, Esq. of Stove, in the county of Devon, a Gentleman who has given much of his attention to the study of mechanics, and the improvement of naval architecture, and who had viewed the Cutter in Woolwich Yard, was desirous of seeing the operation and effects of the Keels in the working of the ship; he accordingly went on board the Trial, and sailed in her to the Coast of Devon. Upon his landing, he wrote as follows to Captain Schank:—"We were weather-bound a day or two, and made a good harbour of Dungenness. The wind was foul all the way afterwards, and at times little or none. We had a fine breeze the morning we arrived: I was happy in the opportunity of seeing all the effects and operations of the Sliding Keels, and am now more than ever convinced of their great utility. The vessel steers and goes about with great certainty, never losing her stay, but shoots round her course, and continues it while filling the sails, an advantage that removes the chance of accidents, when a vessel entirely (as is often the case) loses her stay, and is in danger of going upon her beam ends before she gets under way again, especially in a large sea. I observe the stowage of the vessel is as complete as in the old way, and I think more so, as the cargo (particularly if corn or any thing that is liable to shift,) is so fixed, that such a cargo, although the ship may not be half full, is rendered stationary and safe. Another thing; various sorts of grain may be put in the same vessel without chance of mixing. A very great advantage also is, that of the ship being able to get into shallow harbours, or run over rocks, sands, &c. as was the case with us coming down. We came over the Flats at less than half an hour's flood, and to try the effect we let the aftermost Keel be down, and running into shallow water upon the tail of the Spaniard, it rose and fell without the aid of the winch; a clear proof that nothing is to be apprehended from the fixing of the Keel at the time she may strike the ground. These considerations, when once known, must render the invention acceptable to the Public; but people are so unfortunately prejudiced in favour of old fashions that it is difficult to turn them. For my own part, I am so well convinced that the system adopted in the Trial is correct, that whenever my work is done, I will it immediately adopt it in the Coasters from this Harbour, as they will not only be able to get quite up to Newton, or even up the Canal with a cargo, but can get in and out of the Harbour at any time in it spite of the Bar, which at this time impedes all other craft of any li burthen, or drawing any depth of water. I am persuaded if you could have an opportunity of building another, and not be controuled in the plan, you would exhibit a specimen of nautical improvement, equal, if not exceeding every other. The Public, I fear, do not yet know how much is due to you for the pains you have taken to accommodate them. For one, I beg to return you my thanks for the information you have furnished me with, and which I am sure will prove it very advantageous to me; especially, if I carry stone from Babicomb Bay up the Canal, and Bovey coal, in war-time, to the Rock in that Bay. I wish you may find a general good opinion prevail, and that the countenance of the Public may not be wanting to make you the greatest return you are undoubtedly entitled to. I forgot to observe, that we sailed some leagues without the use of the rudder, steering the vessel with particular accuracy by the keels only, a circumstance almost incredible to those who do not see it; but the reason is so substantial, that it accords with true mechanical principles, and the effect is certain."
Printed by C. Roworth, Bell Yard, Fleet Street.
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