FRENCH NAVIGATORS, I
"I noticed, in coasting along this island, that to the N.E. there existed a creek, opposite to what appeared to be a large cavern. All around this cavern he remarked a number of large white spots, which looked like a flock of sheep. Had time allowed, he might have found anchorage opposite the creek. I fancied I saw a cascade issuing from the mountains. In rounding the island we discovered three islets detached from it, two of them situated in the large bay formed by the coast, and the third on its northern extremity. The island itself was about seven or eight leagues in circumference, without verdure, and apparently barren. The coast was healthy and safe. M. Marion named it Cavern Island.
"These two southern territories are situated in 45° 45' S. lat. by 34° 31' east of the Paris meridian, half a degree east of the route pursued by Bouvet. Next day, about six leagues of the coast of the land of Hope was made out. It looked fertile. The mountains were lofty and covered with snow. The navigators were about to look for anchorage, when, during the sounding operations, the two ships ran foul of each other and were both damaged. Three days were occupied in repairs. The weather, which had hitherto been fine, broke up, and, the wind becoming violent, it was necessary to continue the course following the forty-sixth parallel. New lands were discovered on the 24th of January.
"At first," says Crozet, "they appeared formed of two islands; I took a sketch at a distance of eight leagues, and shortly afterwards we took them for two capes, imagining we could see in the far distance a stretch of land between them. They are situated in 40° 5' S. lat. and about 42° E. long. reckoning from the meridian of Paris. M. Marion named them Les Îles Froides, or the Cold Islands.
"Although little progress was made during the night, the islands were invisible next morning. Upon this day the Castries signalled land, which stretched some ten or twelve leagues E.S.E.; but a dense fog, lasting no less than twelve hours, continued rain, and cold, which was severe and trying to lightly-clad men, made any approach nearer than six or seven leagues impossible.
"This coast was seen again upon the 24th, as well as new land, which received the name of the Arid Island, and is now known as Crozet Island. Marion was at length able to lower a boat, and ordered Crozet to take possession of the larger of the two islands in the name of the king. It is situated in 46° 30' S. lat., and 43° E. long., reckoning from the Paris meridian. M. Marion called this island La Prise de Possession (it is now known as Marion Island). This was the sixth island discovered by us in these southern waters. From a height I discerned snow in many of the valleys. The land appeared barren, and covered with very small grass. I found neither tree nor bush in the island. Exposed to the continual ravages of the stormy west winds which prevailed the entire year in these latitudes, it appeared uninhabitable. I found nothing there but seals, penguins, sea-gulls, Mother Carey's chickens, and every variety of aquatic birds, usually met with by navigators in the open sea, when passing the Cape of Good Hope. These creatures, never having seen a man, were not wild, and allowed us to take them in the hand. The female birds sat tranquilly upon their eggs, others fed their young, whilst the seals continued their gambols in our presence, without appearing in the least alarmed."
Marion continued to steer between 46° to 47° lat. in the midst of a fog so dense that it was impossible to see from one end of the deck to the other, and without constant firing the ships must have parted company. Upon the 2nd of February the two ships were in 47° 22' E. long., that is to say within 1° 10' of the lands discovered upon the 13th of the same month by the king's vessels La Fortune and Le Gros Ventre, commanded by MM. de Kerguelen and Saint Allouarn. Doubtless, but for the accident to the Castries, Marion would have fallen in with them.
Having reached 90° east of the Paris meridian, Marion changed his route, and directed his course to Van Diemen's Land. No incident occurred during the cruise, and the two vessels cast anchor in Frederick Henry Bay.
Boats were at once lowered, and a strong detachment made its way to the shore, where some thirty natives were found; and the country, judging from the fires and smoke, must have been well populated.
"The natives of the country," says Crozet, "came forward willingly. They picked up wood and formed a sort of pile. They then presented the new comers with pieces of dried wood which they had lighted; and appeared to invite them to set fire to the pile. No one knew what the ceremony might mean, and it was accordingly tried. The natives did not appear surprised. They remained about us, without making any demonstration either of hostility or friendship, and their wives and children were with them. Both men and women were of ordinary height, black in colour, with woolly hair, and all were naked. Some of the women carried their children tied on to their backs with rushes. All the men were armed with pointed sticks and stones, which appeared to us to be sharp, like hatchets.