THE TWO AMERICAS
On the 28th November Van Diemen's Land was doubled, and on the 2nd December the coast of New Zealand was reached and anchor cast by the two vessels in Dusky Bay. Here Vancouver completed the survey left unfinished by Cook. A gale soon separated the Discovery from the Chatham, which was found again in Matavai Bay, Tahiti. During the voyage there from Dusky Bay, Vancouver discovered some rocky islands, which he called the Snares, and a large island named Oparra, whilst Captain Broughton had discovered Chatham Island, on the east of New Zealand. The incidents of the stay at Tahiti resemble those of Cook's story too closely for repetition.
On the 24th January the two vessels started for the Sandwich Islands, and stopped for a short time off Owyhee, Waohoo, and Ottoway. Since the murder of Cook many changes had taken place in this archipelago. English and American vessels now sometimes visited it to take whales, or trade in furs, and their captains had given the natives a taste for brandy and fire-arms. Quarrels between the petty chiefs had become more frequent, the most complete anarchy prevailed everywhere, and the number of inhabitants was already greatly diminished.
On the 17th March, 1792, Vancouver left the Sandwich Islands and steered for America, of which he soon sighted the part called by Drake New Albion. Here he almost immediately met Captain Grey, who was supposed to have penetrated, in the Washington, into De Fuca Strait, and discovered a vast sea. Grey at once disavowed the discoveries with which he was so generously credited, explaining that he had only sailed fifty miles up the strait, which runs from east to west till it reaches a spot where, according to some natives, it veers to the north and disappears.
Vancouver in his turn entered De Fuca Strait, and recognized Discovery Port, Admiralty Entry, Birch Bay, Desolation Sound, Johnston Strait, and Broughton Archipelago. Before reaching the northern extremity of this long arm of the sea, he met two small Spanish vessels under the command of Quadra. The two captains compared notes, and gave their names to the chief island of the large group known collectively as New Georgia.
Vancouver next visited Nootka Sound and the Columbia River, whence he sailed to San Francisco, off which he anchored. It will be understood that it is impossible to follow the details of the minute survey of the vast stretch of coast between Cape Mendocino and Port Conclusion, in N. lat. 56° 37', which required no less than three successive trips.
"Now," says the great navigator, "that we have achieved the chief aim of the king in ordering this voyage, I flatter myself that our very detailed survey of the north-west coast of America will dispel all doubts, and do away with all erroneous opinions as to a north-west passage; surely no one will now believe in there being a communication between the North Pacific and the interior of the American continent in the part traversed by us."
Leaving Nootka, to survey the coast of South America before returning to Europe, Vancouver touched at the small Cocoa-Nut Island—which, as we have already observed, little deserves its name—cast anchor off Valparaiso, doubled Cape Horn, took in water at St. Helena, and re-entered the Thames on the 12th September, 1795.
The fatigue incidental to this long expedition had so undermined the health of the explorer that he died in May, 1798, leaving the account of his voyage to be finished by his brother.
Throughout the arduous survey, occupying four years, of 900 miles of coast, the Discovery and Chatham lost but two men. It will be seen from this how apt a pupil of Cook the great navigator was; and we do not know whether most to admire in Vancouver his care for his sailors and humanity to the natives, or the wonderful nautical skill he displayed in this dangerous cruise.
While explorers thus succeeded each other on the western coast of America, colonists were not idle inland. Already established on the borders of the Atlantic, where a series of states had been founded from Florida to Canada, the white men were now rapidly forcing their way westwards. Trappers, and coureurs des bois, as the French hunters were called, had discovered vast tracts of land suitable for cultivation, and many English squatters had already taken root, not, however, without numerous conflicts with the original owners of the soil, whom they daily tried to drive into the interior. Emigrants were soon attracted in large numbers by the fertility of a virgin soil, and the more liberal constitution of the various states.
Their number increased to such an extent, that at the end of the seventeenth century the heirs of Lord Baltimore estimated the produce of the sale of their lands at three thousand pounds; and in the middle of the following century, 1750, the successors of William Penn also made a profit ten times as great as the original price of their property. Yet emigration was even then not sufficiently rapid, and convicts were introduced. Maryland numbered 1981 in 1750. Many scandalous abuses also resulted from the compulsory signing by new comers of agreements they did not understand.