VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD, AND POLAR EXPEDITIONS
He was a good deal surprised not to find the Neva there, as he had given instructions for it to bring a cargo of furs, the price of which he proposed expending on Chinese merchandise. He decided to wait for the arrival of the Neva.
Macao seemed to him to be falling rapidly into decay.
"Many fine buildings," he says, "are ranged in large squares, surrounded by courtyards and gardens; but most of them uninhabited, the number of Portuguese residents there having greatly decreased. The chief private houses belong to the members of the Dutch and English factories.... Twelve or fifteen thousand is said to be the number of the inhabitants of Macao, most of whom, however, are Chinese, who have so completely taken possession of the town, that it is rare to meet any European in the streets, with the exception of priests and nuns. One of the inhabitants said to me, 'We have more priests here than soldiers;' a piece of raillery that was literally true, the number of soldiers amounting only to 150, not one of whom is a European, the whole being mulattos of Macao and Goa. Even the officers are not all Europeans. With so small a garrison it is difficult to defend four large fortresses; and the natural insolence of the Chinese finds a sufficient motive in the weakness of the military, to heap insult upon insult."
Just as the Nadiejeda was about to weigh anchor, the Neva at last appeared. It was now the 3rd November, and Kruzenstern went up the coast in the newly arrived vessel as far as Whampoa, where he sold to advantage his cargo of furs, after many prolonged discussions which his firm but conciliating attitude, together with the intervention of English merchants, brought to a successful issue.
On the 9th February, the two vessels once more together weighed anchor, and resumed their voyage by way of the Sunda Isles. Beyond Christmas Island they were again separated in cloudy weather, and did not meet until the end of the trip. On the 4th May, the Nadiejeda cast anchor in St. Helena Bay, sixty days' voyage from the Sunda Isles and seventy-nine from Macao.
"I know of no better place," says Kruzenstern, "to get supplies after a long voyage than St. Helena. The road is perfectly safe, and at all times more convenient than Table Bay or Simon's Bay, at the Cape. The entrance, with the precaution of first getting near the land, is perfectly easy; and on quitting the island nothing more is necessary than to weigh anchor and stand out to sea. Every kind of provision may be obtained here, particularly the best kinds of garden stuffs, and in two or three days a ship may be provided with everything."
On the 21st April, Kruzenstern passed between the Shetland and Orkney Islands, in order to avoid the English Channel, where he might have met some French pirates, and after a good voyage he arrived at Cronstadt on the 7th August, 1806.
Without taking first rank, like the expedition of Cook or that of La Pérouse, Kruzenstern's trip was not without interest. We owe no great discovery to the Russian explorer, but he verified and rectified the work of his predecessors. This was in fact what most of the navigators of the nineteenth century had to do, the progress of science enabling them to complete what had been begun by others.
Kruzenstern had taken with him in his voyage round the world the son of the well-known dramatic author Kotzebue. The young Otto Kotzebue, who was then a cadet, soon gained his promotion, and he was a naval lieutenant when, in 1815 the command was given to him of the Rurik, a new brig, with two guns, and a crew of no more than twenty-seven men, equipped at the expense of Count Romantzoff. His task was to explore the less-known parts of Oceania, and to cut a passage for his vessel across the Frozen Ocean. Kotzebue left the port of Cronstadt on the 15th July, 1815, put in first at Copenhagen and Plymouth, and after a very trying trip doubled Cape Horn, and entered the Pacific Ocean on the 22nd January, 1816. After a halt at Talcahuano, on the coast of Chili, he resumed his voyage; sighted the desert island of Salas of Gomez, on the 26th March, and steered towards Easter Island, where he hoped to meet with the same friendly reception as Cook and Pérouse had done before him.
The Russians had, however, hardly disembarked before they were surrounded by a crowd eager to offer them fruit and roots, by whom they were so shamelessly robbed that they were compelled to use their arms in self-defence, and to re-embark as quickly as possible to avoid the shower of stones flung at them by the natives.
The only observation they had time to make during this short visit, was the overthrow of the numerous huge stone statues described, measured, and drawn, by Cook and La Pérouse.
On the 16th April, the Russian captain arrived at the Dog Island of Schouten, which he called Doubtful Island, to mark the difference in his estimate of its position and that attributed to it by earlier navigators. Kotzebue gives it S. lat. 44° 50' and W. long. 138° 47'.
During the ensuing days were discovered the desert island of Romantzoff, so named in honour of the promoter of the expedition; Spiridoff Island, with a lagoon in the centre; the Island Oura of the Pomautou group, the Vliegen chain of islets, and the no less extended group of the Kruzenstern Islands.