CAPTAIN COOK'S PREDECESSORS, I

After a stay of nine weeks, the two ships, amply provisioned, left the port of Tinian. Byron continued his route to the north, after having passed Anatacan Island, already discovered by Anson. He hoped to meet the N.E. monsoon before reaching the Bashees, which form the extreme north of the Philippines. Upon the 22nd he perceived Grafton Island, the most northerly of this group, and upon the 3rd of November he arrived at Timoan, which had been mentioned by Dampier as a favourable place for procuring provisions. The natives, however, who are of Malay descent, refused the offer of hatchets, knives, and iron instruments in exchange for fowls—they demanded rupees. Finally they accepted some handkerchiefs in payment of a dozen fowls, a goat and its kid. Fortunately fish was abundant, as it would have been impossible to procure fresh victuals.

Byron set sail once more on the 7th November, passed Poulo Condor at a distance, stopped at Poulo Taya, where he encountered a vessel bearing Dutch colours, but which was manned entirely by Malays. Reaching Sumatra, he explored the coast and cast anchor at Batavia, the principal seat of Dutch power in the East Indies, on the 20th November.

At this time there were more than one hundred ships, large and small, in this roadstead, so flourishing was the trade of the East India Company at this epoch. The town was at the height of its prosperity. Its large and open thoroughfares, its admirable canals, bordered by pine-trees, its regular buildings, singularly recalled the cities of the Netherlands.

Portuguese, Chinese, English, Dutch, Persians, Moors, and Malays, mixed in the streets, and transacted business. Fêtes, receptions, gaieties of every kind impressed new comers with a high idea of the prosperity of the town, and contributed to make their stay a pleasant one. The sole drawback, and it was a serious one to crews after so long a voyage, was the unhealthiness of the locality, where endemic fevers abound. Byron being aware of this, hurried the embarkation of his provisions, and set sail after an interval of twelve days.

Short as their stay had been, it had been too long. The fleet had scarcely reached the strait of the sound, before a malignant fever broke out among the crew, disabling half their number, and ending in the death of three sailors.

After forty-eight days' navigation, Byron perceived the coast of Africa, and cast anchor three days later in Table Bay.

Cape Town furnished all that he could require. Provisions, water, medicines, were all shipped with a rapidity which sufficiently indicated their anxiety to return, and once more the prow of the vessel was directed homewards.

Two incidents occurred on the passage across the Atlantic, thus described by Byron.

"Off St. Helena, in fine weather, and with a favourable wind, the vessel, then at a considerable distance from land, received a shock which was as severe as if she had struck on a rock. Its violence so alarmed us that we all ran to the bridge. Our fears were dissipated when we saw the sea tinged with blood to a great distance. We concluded that we had come in contact with a whale or a grampus, and that our ship had apparently received no damage, which was true."

A few days later, however, the Tamar was found to be in such a dilapidated state, such grave injuries were discovered in her rudder, that it was necessary to invent something to replace it, and to enable her to reach the Antilles, it being too great a risk to allow her to continue her voyage.

Upon the 9th of May, 1766, the Dauphin anchored in the Downs, after a voyage round the world which had lasted for twenty-three months.

This was the most fortunate of all the circumnavigation voyages undertaken by the English. Up to this date, no purely scientific voyage had been attempted. If it was less fruitful of results than had been anticipated, the fault lay not so much with the captain as with the Lords of the Admiralty. They were not sufficiently accurate in their instructions, and had not taken the trouble (as was done in later voyages) of sending special professors of the various branches of science with the expedition.

Full justice, however, was paid to Byron. The title of Admiral was conferred on him, and an important command in the East Indies was entrusted to him. But we have no interest in the latter part of his life, which ended in 1786, and to that, therefore, we need not allude.