FRENCH CIRCUMNAVIGATORS, II
Expedition of Baron de Bougainville—Stay at Pondicherry—The "White Town" and the "Black Town"—"Right-hand" and "Left-hand"—Malacca—Singapore and its prosperity—Stay at Manilla—Touron Bay—The monkeys and the people—The marble rocks of Faifoh—Cochin-Chinese diplomacy—The Anambas—The Sultan of Madura—The straits of Madura and Allas—Cloates and the Triad Islands—Tasmania—Botany Bay and New South Wales—Santiago and Valparaiso—Return viâ Cape Horn—Expedition of Dumont d'Urville in the Astrolabe—The Peak of Teneriffe—Australia—Stay at New Zealand—Tonga-Tabu—Skirmishes—New Britain and New Guinea—First news of the fate of La Pérouse—Vanikoro and its inhabitants—Stay at Guam—Amboyna and Menado—Results of the expedition.
The expedition, the command of which was entrusted to Baron de Bougainville, was, strictly speaking, neither a scientific voyage nor a campaign of discovery. Its chief purpose was to unfurl the French flag in the extreme East, and to impress upon the governments of that region the intention of France to protect her nationalities and her interests, everywhere and at all times. The chief instructions given to the commander were that he was to convey to the sovereign of Cochin-China a letter from the king, together with some presents, to be placed on board the frigate Thetis.
M. de Bougainville was also, whenever possible, without such delays as would prejudice the main object of the expedition, to take hydrographic surveys, and to collect information upon the commerce, productions, and means of exchange, of the countries visited.
Two vessels were placed under the orders of M. de Bougainville. One, the Thetis, was an entirely new frigate, carrying forty-four cannons and three hundred sailors, no French frigate of this strength, except the Boudeuse, having ever before accomplished the voyage round the world; the other, the sloop Espérance, had twenty carronades upon the deck, and carried a hundred and twenty seamen.
The first of these vessels was under the direct orders of Baron de Bougainville, and his staff consisted of picked officers, amongst whom we may mention Longueville, Lapierre, and Baudin, afterwards captain, vice-admiral, and rear-admiral. The Espérance was commanded by Frigate-Captain De Nourquer du Camper, who, as second in command of the frigate Cleopatra, had already explored a great part of the course of the new expedition. It numbered among its officers, Turpin, afterwards vice-admiral, deputy, and aide-de-camp of Louis Philippe; Eugène Penaud, afterwards general officer, and Médéric Malavois, the future governor of Senegal.
Not one notable scientific man, such as those who had been billeted in such numbers on the Naturalist and other circumnavigating vessels, had embarked upon those of Baron de Bougainville, to whom it was a constant matter of regret, a regret intensified by the fact that the medical officers, with so many under their care, could not be long absent from the vessels when in port. M. de Bougainville's journal of the voyage opens with this judicious remark:—
"It was not many years ago a dangerous enterprise to make a voyage round the world, and scarce half a century has elapsed since the time when an expedition of this kind would have sufficed to reflect glory upon the man who directed it. This was 'the good old time,' the golden age of the circumnavigator, and the dangers and privations against which he had to struggle were repaid a hundredfold, when, rich in valuable discoveries, he hailed on his return the shores of his native land. But this is all over now; the prestige has gone, and we make our tour of the globe nowadays as we should then have made that of France."
What would Baron Yves-Hyacinth Potentien de Bougainville, the son of the vice-admiral, senator, and member of the Institut, say to-day to our admirable steamships of perfect form, and charts of such minute exactitude that distant voyages appear a mere joke.