VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD, AND POLAR EXPEDITIONS
The Russian fur trade—Kruzenstern appointed to the command of an expedition—Noukha-Hiva—Nangasaki—Reconnaisance of the coast of Japan—Yezo—The Ainos—Saghalien—Return to Europe—Otto von Kotzebue—Stay at Easter Island—Penrhyn—The Radak Archipelago—Return to Russia—Changes at Otaheite and the Sandwich Islands—Beechey's Voyage—Easter Island—Pitcairn and the mutineers of the Bounty—The Paumoto Islands—Otaheite and the Sandwich Islands—The Bonin Islands—Lütke—The Quebradas of Valparaiso—Holy week in Chili—New Archangel—The Kaloches—Ounalashka—The Caroline Archipelago—The canoes of the Caroline Islanders—Guam, a desert island—Beauty and happy situation of the Bonin Islands—The Tchouktchees: their manners and their conjurors—Return to Russia.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Russians for the first time took part in voyages round the world, Until that time their explorations had been almost entirely confined to Asia, and their only mariners of note were Behring, Tchirikoff, Spangberg, Laxman, Krenitzin, and Saryscheff. The last-named took an important part in the voyage of the Englishman Billings, a voyage by the way which was far from achieving all that might have been fairly expected from the ten years it occupied and the vast sums it cost.
Adam John von Kruzenstern was the first Russian to whom is due the honour of having made a voyage round the world under government auspices and with a scientific purpose.
Born in 1770, Kruzenstern entered the English navy in 1793. After six years' training in the stern school which then numbered amongst its leaders the most skilful sailors of the world, he returned to his native land with a profound knowledge of his profession, and with his ideas of the part Russia might play in Eastern Asia very considerably widened.
During a stay of two years at Canton, in 1798 and 1799, Kruzenstern had been witness of the extraordinary results achieved by some English fur traders, who brought their merchandise from the northwest coasts of Russian America. This trade had not come into existence until after Cook's third voyage, and the English had already realized immense sums, at the cost of the Russians, who had hitherto sent their furs to the Chinese markets overland.
In 1785, however, a Russian named Chelikoff founded a fur-trading colony on Kodiak Island, at about an equal distance from Kamtchatka and the Aleutian Islands, which rapidly became a flourishing community. The Russian government now recognized the resources of districts it had hitherto considered barren, and reinforcements, provisions, and stores were sent to Kamtchatka via Siberia.
Kruzenstern quickly realized how inadequate to the new state of things was help such as this, the ignorance of the pilots and the errors in the maps leading to the loss of several vessels every year, not to speak of the injury to trade involved in a two years' voyage for the transport of furs, first to Okhotsk, and thence to Kiakhta.
As the best plans are always the simplest they are sure to be the last to be thought of, and Kruzenstern was the first to point out the imperative necessity of going direct by sea from the Aleutian Islands to Canton, the most frequented market.
On his return to Russia, Kruzenstern tried to win over to his views Count Kuscheleff, the Minister of Marine, but the answer he received destroyed all hope. Not until the accession of Alexander I., when Admiral Mordinoff became head of the naval department, did he receive any encouragement.
Acting on Count Romanoff's advice, the Russian Emperor soon commissioned Kruzenstern to carry out the plan he had himself proposed; and on the 7th August, 1802, he was appointed to the command of two vessels for the exploration of the north-west coast of America.
Although the leader of the expedition was named, the officers and seamen were still to be selected, and the vessels to be manned were not to be had in either the Russian empire or at Hamburg. In London alone were Lisianskoï, afterwards second in command to Kruzenstern, and the builder Kasoumoff, able to obtain two vessels at all suitable to the service in which they were to be employed. These two vessels received the names of the Nadiejeda and the Neva.
In the meantime, the Russian government decided to avail itself of this opportunity to send M. de Besanoff to Japan as ambassador, with a numerous suite, and magnificent presents for the sovereign of the country.
On the 4th August, 1803, the two vessels, completely equipped, and carrying 134 persons, left the roadstead of Cronstadt. Flying visits were paid to Copenhagen and Falmouth, with a view to replacing some of the salt provisions bought at Hamburg, and to caulk the Nadiejeda, the seams of which had started in a violent storm encountered in the North Sea.