THE TWO AMERICAS

In this first voyage Behring did not apparently see the coast of America, though he probably passed through the strait to which posterity has given his name. The fabulous strait of Anian gave place to Behring Straits. A second voyage made by the same explorers the following year was without results.

Not until June 4th, 1741, were Behring and Tschirikow in a position to start again. This time they meant to bear to the east after reaching 50° N. lat. till they should come to the coast of America; but the two vessels were separated in a gale of wind on the 28th August, and were unable to find each other again throughout the trip. On the 18th July Behring discerned the American continent in 58° 28' N. lat. and the succeeding days were devoted to the survey of the vast bay between Capes St. Elias and St. Hermogenes.

Behring spent the whole of August in sailing about the islands known as the Schumagin archipelago, off the peninsula of Alaska; and after a struggle, lasting until the 24th September, with contrary winds, he sighted the most southerly cape of the peninsula, and discovered part of the Aleutian group.

Exhausted by long illness, however, the explorer was now no longer able to direct the course of his vessel, and could not prevent her from running aground on the little island bearing his name. There, on the 8th December, 1741, this brave man and skilful explorer perished miserably.

The remnant of his crew who survived the fatigues and privations of winter in this desolate spot, succeeded in making a large sloop of the remains of the vessel, in which they returned to Kamtchatka.

Meanwhile Tschirikow, after waiting for his superior officer until the 25th June, made land between 55° 56' N. lat., where he lost two boats with their crews, without being able to find out what had become of them. Unable after this catastrophe to open communication with the natives, he went back to Kamtchatka.

The way was now open, and adventurers, merchants, and naval officers eagerly rushed in, directing their efforts carefully to the Aleutian Islands and the peninsula of Alaska.

The expeditions sent out by the English, and the progress made by the Russians, had, however, aroused the jealousy and anxiety of the Spanish, who feared lest their rivals should establish themselves in a country nominally belonging to Spain, though she owned not a single colony in it.

The Viceroy of Mexico now remembered the discovery of an excellent port by Viscaino, and resolved to found a "presidio" there. Two expeditions started simultaneously, the one by land, under Don Gaspar de Partola, the other by sea, consisting of two packets, the San Carlos and San Antonio, and after a year's search found again the harbour of Monterey, alluded to by Viscaino.

After this expedition the Spanish continued the exploration of the Californian coast. The most celebrated voyages were those of Don Juan de Ayala and of La Bodega, which took place in 1775, and resulted in the discovery of Cape Engano and Guadalupe Bay. Next to these rank the expeditions of Arteaga and Maurelle.

We have already related what was done by Cook, La Pérouse, and Marchand, so we can pass on to say a few words on the expeditions of Vancouver. This officer, who had accompanied Cook on his second and third voyage, was naturally appointed to the command of the expedition sent out by the English government with a view to settling the disputes with the Spanish government as to Nootka Sound.

George Vancouver was commissioned to obtain from the Spanish authorities the formal cession of this great harbour, of such vast importance to the fur trade. He was then to survey the whole of the north-west coast, from 30° N. lat. to Cook's River in 61° N. lat. Lastly, he was to give special attention to the Straits of De Fuca and the bay explored in 1749 by the Washington.

The two vessels, the Discovery of 340 tons, and the Chatham of 135—the latter under the command of Captain Broughton—left Falmouth on the 1st of April, 1791. After touching at Teneriffe, Simon Bay, and the Cape of Good Hope, Vancouver steered south-wards, sighted St. Paul's Island, and sailed towards New Holland, between the routes taken by Dampier and Marion, and through latitudes which had not yet been traversed. On the 27th September was sighted part of the coast of New Holland, ending in abrupt and precipitous cliffs, to which the name of Cape Chatham was given. As many of his crew were down with dysentery, Vancouver decided to anchor in the first harbour he came to, to get water, wood, and above all provisions, of which he stood sorely in need. Port George III. was the first reached, where ducks, curlews, swans, fish, and oysters abounded; but no communication could be opened with the natives, although a recently abandoned village of some twenty huts was seen.

We need not follow Vancouver in his cruise along the south-west coast of Holland, as we shall learn nothing new from it.