Monsieur de la Perouse
On the 28th the navigators came to an anchor in the port of Cavite, in three fathoms, at two cables' length from the town Cavite, situated three leagues to the south-west of Manilla, was formely a place of importance. Manilla is erected on the Bay which also bears its name, and lies at the mouth of a river, being one of the finest situations in the world: all the necessaries of life may be procured there in abundance, and on reasonable terms; but the cloths, and other manufactures of Europe, are extravagantly dear. La Perouse confidently asserts, that a great nation, without any other colony than the Philippines, which would establish a proper government there, might view all the European settlements in Africa and America without envy or regret. These islands contain about 3,000,000 of inhabitants, and that of Luconia consists of about a third of them. These people seem not inferior to Europeans; they cultivate the land with skill, and among them have ingenious goldsmiths, carpenters, joiners, masons, blacksmiths, etc. La Perouse says he has visited them at their villages, and found them affable, hospitable, and honest.
On the 9th of April, according to the French reckoning, and the 10th as the Manillese reckon, our navigators sailed and got to the northward of the island of Luconia. On the 21st they made the island of Formosa; and experienced, in the channel which divides it from that of Luconia, some very violent currents. On the 22d they set Lamy Island, at the south-west point of Formosa, about three leagues distant. The tack they then stood on conveyed them upon the coast of Formosa, near the entrance of the bay of Old Fort Zealand, where the city of Taywan, the capital of that island, is seated.
The whole of the next day a dead calm occurred, in mid-channel, between the Bashee Islands, and those of Botol Tabacoxima. It is probable that vessels might provide themselves in this island with provision, wood, and water. La Perouse preserved the name of Kumi Island, which Father Gambil gives it in his chart. In the night of the 25th our navigators passed the strait of Corea, sounding very frequently, and as this coast appeared more eligible to follow than that of Japan, they approached within two leagues of it, and shaped a course parallel to its direction. On the 27th they made the signal to bear up, and steer east, and soon perceived, in the north-north-east, an Island not laid down upon any chart, at the distance of about twenty leagues from the coast of Corea. He named it Isle Dagelet, from the name of the astronomer who first discovered it. The circumference is about three leagues.
On the 30th of May, La Perouse shaped his course east towards Japan, and on the 2d of June saw two Japanese vessels, one of which passed within hail of him. It had a crew of twenty men, all habited in blue cassocks. This vessel was about one hundred tons burden, and had a single high mast stepped in the middle. The Astrolabe hailed her as she passed, but neither the question nor the answer was comprehended. At different times of the day seven Chinese vessels of a smaller construction were seen, which were better calculated to encounter bad weather.
During the seventy-five days since our navigators sailed from Manilla, they had run along the coasts of Quelpert Island, Corea, and Japan; but as these countries were inhabited by people inhospitable to strangers, they did not attempt to visit them. They were extremely impatient to reconnoitre this land, and it was the only part of the globe which had escaped the activity of Captain Cook. The geographers who had drawn the strait of Tessoy erroneously determined the limits of Jesso, of the Company's land, and of Staten Island; it, therefore, became necessary to terminate the ancient discussions by indisputable facts. The latitude of Baie de Ternai was the same as that of Port Acqueis, though the description of it is very different. The plants which France produces carpeted the whole of this soil. Roses, lilies, and all European meadow-flowers were beheld at every step. Pine-trees embellished the tops of the mountains; and oaks, gradually diminishing in strength and size towards the sea, adorned the less elevated parts. Traces of men were frequently perceived by the havoc they had made. By these, and many other corroborating circumstances, the navigators were clearly of opinion, that the Tartars approach the borders of the sea, when invited thither by the season for fishing and hunting; that they assemble for these purposes along the rivers, and that the mass of people reside in the interior of the country, to attend to the multiplication of their flocks and herds. M. de Lange, with several other officers who had a passion for hunting, endeavored to pursue their sport, but without success, yet they imagined that by silence, perseverance, and posting them selves in ambush in the passes of the stags and bears, they mi g ht be able to procure some of them. This plan was determined on for the next day, but, with all their address and management it proved abortive. It was therefore generally acknowledged that fishing presented the greatest prospect of success. Each of the five creeks in the Baie de Ternai afforded a proper place for hauling the seine, and was rendered more convenient by a rivulet, near which they established their kitchen. They caught plenty of trout, salmon, cod-fish, harp-fish, plaice, and herrings.