CAPTAIN COOK'S PREDECESSORS, II

Wallis and Carteret—Preparations for the Expedition—Difficult navigation of the Strait of Magellan—Separation of the Dauphin and the Swallow—Whitsunday Island—Queen Charlotte's Island—Cumberland, Henry Islands, &c.—Tahiti—Howe, Boscawen, and Keppel Islands—Wallis Island—Batavia—The Cape—The Downs—Discovery of Pitcairn, Osnaburgh, and Gloucester Islands by Carteret—Santa Cruz Archipelago—Solomon Islands—St. George's canal and New Ireland, Portland and Admiralty Islands—Batavia and Macassar—Meeting with Bougainville in the Atlantic.

The impulse once given, England inaugurated the series of scientific expeditions which were to prove so fruitful of results, and to raise her naval reputation to such a height.

Admirable indeed is the training acquired in these voyages round the world. In them the crew, the officers, and sailors, are constantly brought face to face with unforeseen difficulties and dangers, which call forth the best qualities of the sailor, the soldier, and the man!

If France succumbed to the naval superiority of Great Britain during the revolutionary and imperial wars, was it not fully as much owing to this stern training of the British seaman, as to the internal dissensions which deprived France of the services of the greater part of her naval staff?

Be this as it may, the English Admiralty, shortly after Byron's return, organized a new expedition. Their preparations appear to have been far too hasty. The Dauphinonly anchored in the Downs at the beginning of May, and six weeks later, on the 19th of June, Captain Samuel Wallis received the command.

This officer, after attaining the highest rank in the military marine service, had been entrusted with an important command in Canada, and had assisted in the capture of Louisburgh. We cannot tell what qualities commended him to the Admiralty in preference to his companions in arms, but in any case, the noble lords had no reason to regret their decision. Wallis hastened the needful preparations on board the Dauphin, and on the 21st of August (less than a month after receiving his commission), he joined the sloop Swallow and the Prince Frederick in Plymouth Harbour.

The latter was in charge of Lieutenant Brine, the former was commanded by Philip Carteret. Both were most distinguished officers who had just returned from a voyage round the world with Commodore Byron, and whose reputation was destined to be increased by their second voyage.

The Swallow, unfortunately, appears to have been quite unfit for the service demanded of her. Having already been thirty years in service, the sheathing was very much worn, and her keel was not studded with nails, which might have served instead of sheathing to protect her from parasites. Again the provisions and marketable commodities were so unequally divided, that the Swallow received much less than the Dauphin. Carteret begged in vain for a rope yarn, a forge, and various things which his experience told him would be indispensable.

This rebuff confirmed Carteret in his notion that he should not get further than the Falkland Isles, but none the less he took every precaution which his experience dictated to him.

As soon as the equipment was complete, on the 22nd of April 1766, the vessels set sail. It did not take Wallis long to find out that the Swallow was a bad sailer, and that he might anticipate much trouble during his voyage. However, no accident happened during the voyage to Madeira, where the vessels put in to revictual.

Upon leaving the port, the commander supplied Carteret with a copy of his instructions, and selected Port Famine, in the Strait of Magellan, as a rendezvous, in case of separation.

Their stay at Port Praya, in the Island of Santiago, was shortened on account of the ravages committed there by the small-pox, and Wallis would not even allow his crew to land. Shortly after leaving the Equator, the Prince Frederick gave signs of distress, and it was necessary to send the carpenter on board to stop up a leak on the larboard side. This vessel, which was provided with inferior provisions, counted already a number of sick among her crew.

Towards eight o'clock in the evening of the 19th of November, the crews perceived in the N.E. a meteor of extraordinary appearance, moving in a straight line towards the S.W. with marvellous rapidity. It was visible for almost a minute, and left behind a trail of light, so bright that the deck was illuminated as if it were mid-day.