CHAPTER 30. THE NAMING OF AUSTRALIA.
The name Australia was given to the great southern continent by Flinders. When and why he gave it that name will now be shown.
In the first place a common error must be set right. It is sometimes said that the Spanish navigator, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, named one of the islands of the New Hebrides group, in 1606, Australia del Espiritu Santo. This is not the case. The narrative of his voyage described "all this region of the south as far as the Pole which from this time shall be called Austrialia del Espiritu Santo," from "His Majesty's title of Austria." The word Austrialia is a punning name. Quiros' sovereign, Philip III, was a Habsburg; and Quiros, in compliment to him, devised the name Austrialia as combining the meaning "Austrian land," as well as "southern land."* (* See Markham, Voyages of Quiros, Hakluyt Society Volume 1 page 30.)
In 1756 the word "Australasia" was coined. Charles de Brosses, in his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, wanted a word to signify a new division of the globe. The maps marked off Europe, Asia, Africa and America, but the vast region to the south of Asia required a name likewise. De Brosses simply added "Austral" to "Asia," and printed "Australasia" upon his map.
The earliest use of the word Australia that I have been able to find, occurs in the index to the Dutch Generale Beschrijvinge van Indien (General Description of the Indies) published at Batavia in 1638. The work consists mainly of accounts of voyages by Dutch vessels to the East Indies. Among them is a history of the "Australische Navigatien" of Jacob le Maire and Willem Cornelisz Schouten, made in 1615 to 1617. They sailed through the Straits of Magellan, crossed the Pacific, touched at the Solomon Islands, and thence made their way round by the north of New Guinea to Java. The word Australia does not occur anywhere in the black-letter text of the narrative, and the word Australische in the phrase "Australische Navigatien," simply means southern. There are references in the book to "Terra Australis," but Le Maire and Schouten knew not Australia. Nor does the narrative make any allusion to the continent which we know by that name. The Terra Australis of these Dutch navigators was land of the southern hemisphere in general. But, curiously, the indexer of the Generale Beschrijvinge made four entries, in which he employed the word Australia. Thus, his entry "Australia Incognita Ondeckt" (Australia Incognita Discovered) referred to passages in Le Maire and Schouten's voyage relating to the southern lands they had seen. But it did not refer to the Australia of modern geography. It is very strange that the Dutch indexer in Batavia should have hit upon the word and employed it when he did not find it in the text of the book itself.
The use of Australia in an English book of 1693 is also extremely curious. In 1676 Gabriel de Foigny, under the assumed name of Jacques Sadeur, published at Vannes a quaint little duodecimo volume, purporting to give a description of an unknown southern land. He called his book La Terre Australe connue; c'est a dire, la description de ce pays inconnu jusqu'ici. It was a "voyage imaginaire," a pure piece of fancy. In 1693 it was translated into English, and published in London, by John Dunton, under the title A New Discovery of Terra Incognita, or the Southern World, by James Sadeur, a Frenchman, who being cast there by a shipwreck, lived 35 years in that country and gives a particular description of the manners, customs, religion, laws, studies and wars of those southern people, and of some animals peculiar to that place; with several other rarities. In the original French the word Australia does not occur. But in the English translation Foigny's phrase "continent de la Terre Australe," is rendered "Australia." Foigny's ingenious piece of fiction drew its "local colour" from the South American region, not from any supposed land in the neighbourhood of the Australian continent. The instance is all the more interesting from the possibility that the book may have given a hint to Swift in the writing of Gulliver's Travels.* (* See the Cambridge History of English Literature 9 106; where, however, the English translation is erroneously cited as Journey of Jacques Sadour to Australia.)
In 1770 and 1771 Alexander Dalrymple published An Historical Collection of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean. In the preface to that work he used the word Australia as "comprehending the discoveries at a distance from America to the eastward."* (* Page 15 of the 1780 edition of Dalrymple.) He did not intend it to include the present Australia at all. De Brosses had used the three names Magellanica, Polynesia and Australasia, which Dalrymple accepted; but he thought there was room for a fourth for the area east of South America. The part of the Australian continent known when Dalrymple published his book - only the west and northern coasts - was included within the division which De Brosses called Australasia.
Here we have three instances of the use of the word Australia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but without reference to the continent which now bears that name.
In 1793, G. Shaw and J.E. Smith published in London a Zoology and Botany of New Holland. Here the word Australia was used in its modern sense, as applied to the southern continent. The authors wrote of "the vast island, or rather continent, of Australia, Australasia, or New Holland, which has so lately attracted the particular attention of European navigators and naturalists."