Monsieur de la Perouse

FRANCE becoming jealous of the renown acquired by the English circumnavigators, determined to send out an expedition, which, in its scientific equipments, should vie with them in every respect. Two ships were appointed to this service, the Boussole and Astrolabe, the former commanded by La Perouse, the latter by M. de Langle, both captains in the navy, and men of considerable attainments, besides being assisted by men of science and artists. The voyage is interesting as far as it goes; but, unfortunately, the ships, after quitting Botany Bay, in 1788, have never since been heard of, to the regret of all lovers of science and humanity, on account not only of the acquirements but amiable character of the commanders.

On the first of August, 1785, they quitted Brest, and, on the 13th, reached Madeira; they saw Teneriffe on the 19th, and on the 16th of October, the island of Trinidada, barren, rocky, and with a violent surf breaking on the shores, where refreshments not being obtainable, the commander steered for St. Catharine's on the Brazil coast.

This island is extremely fertile, producing all sorts of fruit, vegetables, and corn, almost spontaneously. It is covered with trees of everlasting green, but they are so curiously interwoven with plants and briars, that it is impossible to pass through the forests without opening a path with a hatchet; to add to the difficulty, danger is also to be apprehended from snakes whose bite is mortal. The habitations are bordering on the sea. The woods are delightfully fragrant, occasioned by the orange-trees, and other odoriferous plants and shrubs, which form a part of them.

On the 14th of January the navigators struck ground on the coast of Patagonia. On the 25th, La Perouse took bearings a league to the southward of Cape San Diego forming the west point of the straits of Lemaire. On the 9th of February, he was abreast of the straits of Magellan. Examining the quantity of provisions he had on board, La Perouse discovered he had very little flour and bread left in store; having been obliged to leave a hundred barrels at Brest. The worms had also taken possession of the biscuits, and consumed or rendered useless a fifth part of them. Under these circumstances, La Perouse preferred Conception to the island of Juan Fernandez. The Bay of Conception in Chili is a most excellent harbor; the water is smooth, and almost without any current, though the tide rises six feet three inches.

At daybreak, on the 15th of March, La Perouse made the signal to prepare to sail. On the 17th, about noon, a light breeze sprung up, with which he got under way. On the 8th of April, about noon, they saw Easter Island. The Indians were alarmed, except a few who had a kind of slight wooden club. Some of them assumed an apparent superiority over the others, which induced La Perouse to consider the former as chiefs, but he soon discovered that these selected persons were the most notorious offenders. Having but a few hours to remain upon the island, and wishing to employ his time to the best advantage, La Perouse left the care of the tent, and other particulars, to his first lieutenant M. d'Escures. A division was then made of the persons engaged in the Adventure; one part, under the command of M. de Langle, was to penetrate into the interior of the island to encourage and promote vegetation, by disseminating seed, etc., in a proper soil; and the other division undertook to visit the monuments, plantations, and habitations, within the compass of a league of the establishment. The largest of the rude busts upon one of the terraces is fourteen feet six inches in height, and the breadth and other particulars appeared to be proportionate.

Returning about noon to the tent, La Perouse found almost every man. without hat or handkerchief; so much had forbearance encouraged the audacity of the thieves, that he also experienced a similar depredation. An Indian, who had assisted him in descending from a terrace, rewarded himself for his trouble by taking away his hat. Some of them had dived under water, cut the small cable of the Astrolabe's boat, and taken away her grapnel. A sort of chief, to whom M. de Langle made a present of a male and female goat, received, the animals with one hand, and robbed him of his handkerchief with the other.

On the 28th of May, they saw the mountains of Owhyhee, covered with snow, and afterwards those of Mowee, which are less elevated. About one hundred and fifty canoes were seen putting off from the shore, laden with fruit and hogs, which the Indians proposed to exchange for pieces of iron of the French navigators. Most of them came on board of one or the other of the vessels, but they proceeded so fast through the water that they filled along-side. The Indians were obliged to quit the ropes thrown them, and leaping into the sea, swam after their hogs, when taking them in their arms, they emptied their canoes of the water, and resumed their seats.

After having visited a village, M. de Langle gave orders that six soldiers, with a sergeant, should accompany him: the others were left upon the beach, under the command of M. de Pierrevert, the lieutenant; to them was committed the protection of the ship's boats, from which not a single sailor had landed. The party reembarked at eleven o'clock in very good order, and arrived on board about noon, where M. de Clonard had received a visit from a chief, of whom he had purchased a cloak, and a helmet adorned with red feathers; he had also purchased a hundred hogs, a quantity of potatoes and bananas, plenty of stuffs, mats, and various other articles. On their arrival on board, the two frigates dragged their anchors; it blew fresh from the south-east, and they were driving down upon the island of Morokinne, which was, however, at a sufficient distance to give them time to hoist in their boats. La Perouse made the signal for weighing, but before they could purchase the anchor, he was obliged to make sail, and drag it till he had passed Morokinne, to hinder him from driving past the channel.

A fair wind accompanied the navigators on their departure from the Sandwich Islands. Whales and wild geese convinced them that they were approaching land. Early in the morning of the 23d they descried it; a sudden dispersion of the fog opened to them the view of a long chain of mountains covered with snow. They distinguished Behring's Mount St. Elias, on the north-west coast of America. Having taken in as much wood and water as was required, the navigators esteemed themselves the most fortunate of men, in having arrived at such a distance from Europe without having a sick person among them, or any one afflicted with the scurvy; but a lamentable misfortune now awaited them. At the entrance of this harbor perished twenty brave seamen, in two boats, by the surf. On the 30th of July, at four in the afternoon, La Perouse got under way. This bay or harbor, to which he gave the name of Port des Français, is situated in 58 deg. 37 min. north latitude, and 139 deg. 50 min. west longitude. In different excursions, he says, he found the high-water mark to be fifteen feet above the surface of the sea. The climate of this coast is infinitely milder than that of Hudson's Bay, in the same degree of latitude. Pines were seen of six feet in diameter, and one hundred and forty feet in height. Vegetation is vigorous during three or four months of the year. The men wear different small ornaments, pendant from the ears and nose, scarify their arms and breasts, and file their teeth close to their gums, using, for the last operation, a sand-stone, formed into a particular shape. They paint the face and body with soot, ochre, and plumbago, mixed with train-oil, making themselves most horrid figures. When completely dressed,

their flowing hair is powdered, and plaited with the down of sea-birds; but, perhaps, only the chiefs of certain distinguished families are thus decorated. Their shoulders are covered with a skin, and on the head, is generally worn a little straw hat, plaited with great taste and ingenuity. Sometimes, indeed, the head is decorated with two horned bonnets of eagles' feathers. Their head-dresses are extremely various, the grand object in view being only to render themselves terrible, that they may keep then enemies in awe. Some Indians have skirts of otters' skins. A great chief wore a skirt composed of a tanned skin of the elk, bordered by a fringe of beaks of birds, which, when dancing, imitated the noise of a bell a common dress among the savages of Canada, and other nations in the eastern parts of America. The passion of these Indians for gaming is astonishing, and they pursue it with great avidity. The sort of play to which they are most devoted, is a certain game of chance; out of thirty pieces of wood, each distinctly marked like the French dice, they hide seven: each plays in succession, and he who guesses nearest to the whole number marked upon the seven is the winner of the stake, which is usually a hatchet or a piece of iron.

At length, after a very long run, on the 11th of September, at three in the afternoon, the navigators got sight of Fort Monterey, and two three masted vessels which lay in the road. The commander of these two ships having been informed, by the viceroy of Mexico, of the probable arrival of the two French frigates, sent them pilots in the course of the night. Loretto, the only presidency of Old California, is situated on the east coast of this peninsula and has a garrison of fifty-four troopers, who furnish detachments to fifteen missions; the duties of which are performed by Dominican friars. About four thousand Indians, converted and residing in these fifteen parishes, are the sole produce of the long labors of the different religious orders which have succeeded each other. A small navy was established by the Spanish government in this port, under the orders of the viceroy of Mexico, consisting of four corvettes of twelve guns, and one goletta. They are destined to supply with necessaries the presidencies of North California; and they are sometimes despatched as packet-boats to Manilla, when the orders of the court require the utmost expedition.

The company were received with all possible politeness and respect; the president of the missions, in his sacerdotal vestment, with the holy water in hand, waited to receive them at the entrance of the church, which was splendidly illuminated as on their highest festivals: he then conducted them to the foot of the high altar, where Te Deum was sung in thanksgivings for their arrival. Before they entered the church they passed a ran g e of Indians: the parish church, though covered with straw, is neat, and decorated with paintings, copied from Italian originals. The Indians, as well as the missionaries, rise with the sun, and devote an hour to prayers and mass, during which time a species of boiled food is prepared for them: it consists of barley meal, the grain of which has been roasted previous to its being boiled. It is cooked in the centre of the square, in three large kettles. This repast is called atole by the Indians, who consider it as delicious: it is destitute of salt and butter, and must consequently be insipid. The women have little more to attend to than their housewifery, their children, and the roasting and grinding of several grains: the latter operation is long and laborious, as they employ no other means than that of crushing it in pieces with a cylinder upon a stone.

The Indians of the rancheries, or independent villages, are accustomed to paint their bodies red and black, when they are in mourning; but the missionaries have prohibited the former, though they tolerate the latter, these people being singularly attached to their friends. The ties of family are less regarded among them than those of friendship: the children show no filial respect to the father, having been obliged to quit his cabin as soon as they were able to procure their own subsistence.

A Spanish commissary at Monterey, named M. Vincent Vassadre y Vega, brought orders to the governor to collect all the otter-skins of his missions and presidencies, government having reserved to itself the exclusive commerce of them; and M. Fages assured La Perouse that he could annually furnish twenty thousand of them. The Spaniards were ignorant of the importance of this valuable peltry till the publication of the voyages of Captain Cook; that excellent man has navigated for the general benefit of every nation; his own enjoys only the glory of the enterprise, and that of having given him birth.

New California, though extremely fertile, cannot boast of having a single settler; a few soldiers, married to Indian women, who dwell in the forts, or who are dispersed among the different missions, constituting the whole Spanish nation in this district of America. The Franciscan missionaries are principally Europeans; they have a convent in Mexico.

On the evening of the 22c1 every thing was on board, and leave had been taken of the governor and missionaries. On the morning of the 24th they sailed. On the 3d of November the frigates were surrounded with noddies, terns, and man-of-war birds; and on the 4th they made an island which bore west. This small island is little more than a rock of about five hundred toises in length. La Perouse named it Isle Necker. About an hour past one in the morning La Perouse saw breakers at two cables' length ahead of the ship; the sea being so smooth, the sound of them was hardly heard; the Astrolabe perceived them at the same time, though at a greater distance than the Boussole; both frigates instantly hauled, with their heads to the south-east; La Perouse gave orders for sounding; they had nine fathoms rocky bottom; soon after ten and twelve fathoms, and in a quarter of an hour got no ground with sixty fathoms. They just escaped the most imminent danger to which navigators can be exposed.

The island of Assumption, to which the Jesuits have attributed six leagues of circumference, from the angles now taken, was reduced to half, and the highest point is about two hundred toises above the level of the sea. A more horrid place cannot be conceived. It was a perfect cone, as black as a coal, and very mortifying to behold, after having enjoyed, in imagination, the cocoa-nuts and turtles expected to be found in some one of the Marianne Islands. Having determined the position, he continued his course towards China; and on the 1st of January 1787, found bottom in sixty fathoms; a number of fishing-boats surrounded him the next day. On the 2d of January our navigators made the White Rock. In the evening they anchored to the north-ward of Ling-sing Island, and the following day in Macao Road. Macao, situated at the mouth of the Tigris, is capable of receiving a sixty-four gun-ship into its road, at the entrance of the Typa; and in its port, below the city, ships of seven hundred tons half laden.

The climate of the road of Typa is, at this season of the year, precarious; most of the crews were afflicted with colds, accompanied with a fever; which yielded to the salutary temperature of the island of Luconia, when they approached it on the 15th of February. Wanting wood, which he knew was dear at Manilla, La Perouse came to a resolution of remaining twenty-four hours at Marivella to procure some, and early the next morning all the carpenters of the two frigates were sent on shore with the long boats; the rest of the ship's company, with the yawl, were reserved for a fishing-party; but they were unsuccessful, as they found nothing but rocks and very shallow water.

On the 28th the navigators came to an anchor in the port of Cavite, in three fathoms, at two cables' length from the town Cavite, situated three leagues to the south-west of Manilla, was formely a place of importance. Manilla is erected on the Bay which also bears its name, and lies at the mouth of a river, being one of the finest situations in the world: all the necessaries of life may be procured there in abundance, and on reasonable terms; but the cloths, and other manufactures of Europe, are extravagantly dear. La Perouse confidently asserts, that a great nation, without any other colony than the Philippines, which would establish a proper government there, might view all the European settlements in Africa and America without envy or regret. These islands contain about 3,000,000 of inhabitants, and that of Luconia consists of about a third of them. These people seem not inferior to Europeans; they cultivate the land with skill, and among them have ingenious goldsmiths, carpenters, joiners, masons, blacksmiths, etc. La Perouse says he has visited them at their villages, and found them affable, hospitable, and honest.

On the 9th of April, according to the French reckoning, and the 10th as the Manillese reckon, our navigators sailed and got to the northward of the island of Luconia. On the 21st they made the island of Formosa; and experienced, in the channel which divides it from that of Luconia, some very violent currents. On the 22d they set Lamy Island, at the south-west point of Formosa, about three leagues distant. The tack they then stood on conveyed them upon the coast of Formosa, near the entrance of the bay of Old Fort Zealand, where the city of Taywan, the capital of that island, is seated.

The whole of the next day a dead calm occurred, in mid-channel, between the Bashee Islands, and those of Botol Tabacoxima. It is probable that vessels might provide themselves in this island with provision, wood, and water. La Perouse preserved the name of Kumi Island, which Father Gambil gives it in his chart. In the night of the 25th our navigators passed the strait of Corea, sounding very frequently, and as this coast appeared more eligible to follow than that of Japan, they approached within two leagues of it, and shaped a course parallel to its direction. On the 27th they made the signal to bear up, and steer east, and soon perceived, in the north-north-east, an Island not laid down upon any chart, at the distance of about twenty leagues from the coast of Corea. He named it Isle Dagelet, from the name of the astronomer who first discovered it. The circumference is about three leagues.

On the 30th of May, La Perouse shaped his course east towards Japan, and on the 2d of June saw two Japanese vessels, one of which passed within hail of him. It had a crew of twenty men, all habited in blue cassocks. This vessel was about one hundred tons burden, and had a single high mast stepped in the middle. The Astrolabe hailed her as she passed, but neither the question nor the answer was comprehended. At different times of the day seven Chinese vessels of a smaller construction were seen, which were better calculated to encounter bad weather.

During the seventy-five days since our navigators sailed from Manilla, they had run along the coasts of Quelpert Island, Corea, and Japan; but as these countries were inhabited by people inhospitable to strangers, they did not attempt to visit them. They were extremely impatient to reconnoitre this land, and it was the only part of the globe which had escaped the activity of Captain Cook. The geographers who had drawn the strait of Tessoy erroneously determined the limits of Jesso, of the Company's land, and of Staten Island; it, therefore, became necessary to terminate the ancient discussions by indisputable facts. The latitude of Baie de Ternai was the same as that of Port Acqueis, though the description of it is very different. The plants which France produces carpeted the whole of this soil. Roses, lilies, and all European meadow-flowers were beheld at every step. Pine-trees embellished the tops of the mountains; and oaks, gradually diminishing in strength and size towards the sea, adorned the less elevated parts. Traces of men were frequently perceived by the havoc they had made. By these, and many other corroborating circumstances, the navigators were clearly of opinion, that the Tartars approach the borders of the sea, when invited thither by the season for fishing and hunting; that they assemble for these purposes along the rivers, and that the mass of people reside in the interior of the country, to attend to the multiplication of their flocks and herds. M. de Lange, with several other officers who had a passion for hunting, endeavored to pursue their sport, but without success, yet they imagined that by silence, perseverance, and posting them selves in ambush in the passes of the stags and bears, they mi g ht be able to procure some of them. This plan was determined on for the next day, but, with all their address and management it proved abortive. It was therefore generally acknowledged that fishing presented the greatest prospect of success. Each of the five creeks in the Baie de Ternai afforded a proper place for hauling the seine, and was rendered more convenient by a rivulet, near which they established their kitchen. They caught plenty of trout, salmon, cod-fish, harp-fish, plaice, and herrings.

At eight in the morning of the 7th, he made an island which seemed of great extent; he supposed, at first, that this was Segalien Island, the south part of which some geographers had placed two degrees too far to the northward. The aspect of this land was extremely different from that of Tartary; nothing was to be seen but barren rocks, the cavities of which retained the snow. To the highest of the mountains La Perouse gave the appellation of Peak Lamanon. M. de Lange, who had come to anchor, came instantly on board his ship, having already hoisted out his long boat and small boats. He submitted to La Perouse whether it would not be proper to land before night, in order to reconnoitre the country, and gather some necessary information from the inhabitants. By the assistance of their glasses, they perceived some cabins, and two of the islanders hastening towards the woods.

Our navigators were successful in making the natives comprehend that they requested a description of their country, and that of the Mantchous; one of the old sages rose up, and, with great perspicuity pointed out the most essential and interesting particulars with the end of his staff. His sagacity in guessing the meaning of the questions proposed to him was astonishing, though, in this particular, he was surpassed by another islander of about thirty years of age. The last-mentioned native informed our navigators that they had a commercial intercourse with the people who inhabit the banks of Segalien river, and he distinctly marked, by strokes of a pencil, the number of days it required for a canoe to sail up the river to the respective places of their general traffic. The bay in which they lay at anchor was named Baie de Langle, as Captain de Langle was the first who discovered it, and first landed on its shore. They spent the remainder of the day in visiting the country and its inhabitants. They were surprised to find among a people composed of hunters and fishermen, who were strangers to the cultivation of the earth, and without flocks or herds, such gentle manners, and such a superiority of intellect. The attention of the inhabitants of the Baie de Langle was attracted by the arts and manufactures of the French, they judiciously examined them, and debated among themselves the manner of fabricating the several articles. They were not unacquainted with the weaver's shuttle. A loom of their construction was carried to France, by which it appeared that their methods of making linens was similar to that of the Europeans; but the thread of it is formed of the bark of the willow-tree. Though they do not cultivate the soil, they convert the spontaneous produce of it to the most useful and necessary purposes.

At daybreak, on the 4th of July, La Perouse made the signal for getting under way; early on the 19th, he saw the land of an island from north-east-by-north, as far as east-south-east, but so thick a fog prevailed that none of the points could be particularly discovered. The bay, which is the best in which he had anchored since his departure from Manilla, he named Baie d. Estaing. M. de Langle, who first landed in the island, found the islanders assembled round three or four canoes, laden with smoked fish: he was there informed that the men who composed the crews of the canoes were Mantchous, and had quitted the banks of the Se g alien river to become purchasers of these fish. In the corner of the island, within a kind of circus planted with stakes, each surmounted with the head of a bear, the bones of animals lay scattered. As these people use no firearms, but engage the bears in close combat, their arrows being only capable of wounding them, this circus might probably be intended to perpetuate the memory of certain great exploits. Having entertained conjectures relative to the proximity of the Coast of Tartarty, La Perouse at length discovered that his conjectures were well-founded; for when the horizon became a little more extensive, he saw it perfectly. In the evening of the 22d he came to anchor in thirty-seven fathoms, about a league from land. He was then abreast of a small river, to the northward of which he saw a remarkable peak; its base is on the shore, and its summit on all sides pre serves a regular form. La Perouse bestowed on it the title of Peak la Martiniere.

On the 28th, in the evening, our navigators were at the opening of a bay which presented a safe and convenient anchorage. M. de Langle reported to La Perouse that there was excellent shelter behind four islands he had landed at a village of Tartars, where he was kindly received, and. where he discovered a watering place abounding with the most limpid element. From M. de Langle's report, La Perouse gave orders to prepare for anchoring in the bottom of the bay, which was named Baie de Castris.

In this bay the French navigators first discovered the use of the circle of lead or bone, which these people, and the inhabitants of Segalien Island, wear on the thumb like a ring; it greatly assists them in cutting and strip. ping the salmon with a knife, which is always hanging to their girdle. Their village was built upon low marshy land, which must doubtless be uninhabitable during the winter, but on the opposite side of the gulf, another village appeared on a more elevated situation. It was seated at the entrance of a wood, and contained eight cabins, larger and better constructed than the first. Not far from these cabins, they visited three yourts, or subterranean houses. They were sufficiently capacious to accommodate the inhabitant of the whole eight cabins during the severity of the inclement season. On the borders of this village several tombs presented themselves, which were larger and more ingeniously fabricated than the houses; each of them contained three, four, or five biers, decorated with Chinese stuffs, some pieces of which were brocade. Bows, arrows, and the other most esteemed articles of these people, were suspended in the interior of these monuments, the wooden door of which was closed by a bar, supported at each end by a prop.

The women are wrapped in a large robe of nankeen, or salmon's skin, curiously tanned, descending as low as the ankle-bone, sometimes embellished with a border of fringe mannfactured of copper, and producing sounds like those of little bells. Those salmon which furnish a covering for the fair, weigh thirty or forty pounds, and are never caught in summer; those which were taken by the French visiters did not exceed three or four pounds in weight; but that disadvantage was fully compensated by the extraordinary number, and the extreme delicacy of their flavor.

On the 2d of August, La Perouse sailed with a light breeze. On the 19th Cape Troun was perceived to the southward, and Cape Uries to the south-east-by-east; its proper direction, according to the Dutch chart: their situation could not possibly have been determined with more precision by modern navigators. In the evening of the 6th, they made the entrance of Avatcha Bay, or St. Peter and St. Paul. The light-house, erected by the Russians on the east point of the entrance, was not kindled during the night; as an excuse for which the governor declared the next day, that all their efforts to keep it burning had been ineffectual; the wind had constantly extinguished the flame, which was only sheltered by four planks of wood very indifferently cemented.

The government of Kamtschatka had been materially changed since the departure of the English, and was now only a dependency of that of Ochotsk. These particulars were communicated to our navigators by lieutenant Kaborof, governor of the harbor of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, having a sergeant and forty soldiers under his command. M. de Lessops, who acted as interpreter, and who perfectly understood the Russian language, wrote a letter, in La Perouse's name, to the governor of Ochotsk, to whom La Perouse also wrote in French himself. He told him that the narrative of Cook's last voyage had spread abroad the fame of the hospitality of the Kamtschadale government; and he flattered him self that he should be as favorably received as the English navigators, as his voyage, like theirs, was intended for the benefit of all maritime nations.

The Kamtschadales are of an imitative genius, and fond of adopting the customs of their conquerors. They have already abandoned the yourts, in which they were formerly accustomed to burrow like badgers, breathing foul air during the whole of the winter. The most opulent among them now build isbas, or wooden houses, like those of the Russians: they are divided into three small rooms, and are conveniently warmed by a brick stove. The inferior people pass their winters and summers in balagans, resembling wooden pigeon-houses, covered with thatch, and placed upon the tops of posts twelve or thirteen feet high, to which the women, as well as men, find a ladder necessary for their ascension. But these latter buildings will probably soon disappear; for the Kamtschadales imitate the manners and dresses of the Russians. It is curious to see in their little cottages, a quantity of cash in circulation; and it may be considered as a still greater curiosity, because the practice exists among so small a number of inhabitants. Their consumption of the commodities of Russia and China are so few, that the balance of trade is entirely in their favor, in consequence of which it is necessary to pay them the difference in roubles. The Kamtschadales, says La Perouse, appeared to me to be the same people as those of the Bay of Castries, on the coast of Tartary; they are equally remarkable for their mildness and their probity, and their persons are not very dissimilar.

The approach of winter now warned our navigators to depart; the ground, which, on their arrival on the 7th of September, was adorned with the most beautiful verdure, was as yellow and parched up on the 25th of the same month, as in the environs of Paris at the conclusion of December. La Perouse therefore gave preparatory orders for their departure, and, on the 29th, got under way. M. Kasloff came to take a final leave of him, and dined on board. He accompanied him on, shore, with M. de Langle, and several officers, and was liberally entertained with a good supper, and a ball.

Induced by a western gale, La Perouse attempted to reach the parallel of Bougainville's Navigator's Islands, a discovery due to the French, where fresh provision might probably be procured. On the 6th of December, at three in the afternoon, he saw the most easterly island of that Archipelago, and stood on and off during the rest of the evening and night. Meaning to anchor if he met with a proper place, La Perouse passed through the channel between the great and the little islands that Bougainville left to the south; though hardly a league wide, it appeared perfectly free from danger. He saw no canoes until he was in the channel, yet he beheld several habitations on the windward side of the island, and a group of Indians sitting under the shade of cocoa nut trees, who seemed delighted with the prospect afforded by the frigates.

At break of day they were surprised not to see land to the leeward; nor was it to be discovered till six o'clock next morning. Charmed with the beautiful dawn of the following morning, La Perouse resolved to reconnoitre the country, take a view of the inhabitants at their own homes, fill water, and immediately get under way; prudence warning him against passing a second night at that anchorage, which M. de Langle also thought too dangerous for a longer stay. It was therefore agreed on to sail in the afternoon, after appropriating the morning in exchanging baubles for hogs and fruit. At the dawn of day the islanders had surrounded the two frigates, with two hundred different canoes laden with provision, which they would only exchange for beads, axes, and cloth; other articles of traffic, were treated by them with contempt. While a part of the crew was occupied in keeping them in order, and dealing, the rest were despatching empty casks on shore to be replenished with water. Two boats of the Boussole, armed, and commanded by Messrs. de Clonard and Colinet, and those of the Astrolabe, commanded by Messrs. de Monti and Bellegarde, set off with that view at five in the morning, for a bay at the distance of about a league. La Perouse followed close after Messrs. Clonard and Monti, in his pinnace, and landed when they did. It unfortunately happened that M. de Langle had formed a resolution to make an excursion in his jolly-boat to another creek, at the distance of about a league from their watering-place; from this excursion a dire misfortune ensued. The creek, towards which the long-boats steered, was large and commodious: these and the other boats remained afloat at low water, within half a pistol-shot of the beach, and excellent water was easily procured. Great order was observed by Messrs. de Clonard and de Monti. A line of soldiers was posted between the beach and the natives, who amounted to about two hundred, including many women and children. They were prevailed on to sit down under cocoa-trees, at a little distance from the boats; each of them had fowls, hogs, pigeons, or fruit, and all of them were anxious to dispose of their articles without delay, which created some confusion.

While matters were thus passing with perfect tranquillity, and the casks expeditiously filling with water, La Perouse ventured to visit a charming village, situated in the midst of a neighboring wood, the trees of which were loaded with delicious fruit. The houses formed a circle of about one hundred and fifty toises in diameter, leaving an interior open space, beautifully verdant, and shaded with trees, which rendered the air delightfully cool and refreshing. Women, children, and aged men attended him, and earnestly importuned him to enter their houses; they even spread their finest mats upon the floor, decorated with chosen pebbles, and raised a convenient distance from the ground, to prevent offensive humidity. La Perouse condescended to enter one of the handsomest of these huts, which was probably inhabited by a chief, and was astonished to behold a large cabinet of lattice-work, on which as much taste and elegance were display ed as if it had been produced in the environs of Paris. This enchanting country, blessed with a fruitful soil without culture, and enjoying a climate which renders clothing unnecessary, holds out to these fortunate people an abundance of the most estimable food. The trees invite the natives to partake of the bread-fruit, the banana, the cocoa-nut, and the orange; while the swine, fowls, and dogs, which partake of the surplus of these fruits, afford them a rich variety of viands. The inhabitants of this enviable spot were so rich, and entirely free from wants, that they looked with disdain on the cloth and iron tendered by the French visitors, and only deigned to become customers for beads. Abounding in real blessings they languished only for superfluities.

The boats of the Boussole now arrived, loaded with water, and La Perouse made every preparation to get under way. M. de Langle at the same instant returned from his excursion, and mentioned his having landed in a noble harbor for boats, at the foot of a delightful village, and near a cascade of transparent water. He spoke of this watering-place as infinitely more commodious than any other, and begged La Perouse to permit him to take the lead of the first party, assuring him that in three hours he would return on board with all the boats full of water. Though La Perouse, from the appearance of things at this time, had no great apprehensions of danger, he was averse to sending boats on shore without the greatest necessity, especially among an immense number of people, unsupported and unperceived by the ships. The boats put off from the Astrolabe at half past twelve, and arrived at the watering-place soon after one; when, to their great astonishment, M. de Langle and his officers, instead of finding a large commodious bay, saw only a creek full of coral, through which there was no other passage than a winding channel of about twenty-five feet wide. When within, they had no more than five feet water; the longboats grounded, and the barges must have been in the same situation had they not been hauled to the entrance of the channel at a great distance from the beach. M. de Langle was now convinced that he had examined the bay at high-water only, not supposing that the tide at those islands rose five or six feet. Struck with amazement, he instantly resolved to quit the creek, and repair to that where they had before filled water; but the air of tranquillity and apparent good humor of the crowd of Indians, bringing with them an immense quantity of fruit and hogs, chased his first prudent idea from his recollection.

He landed the casks on shore from the four boats without interruption, while his soldiers preserved excellent order on the beach, forming themselves in two lines, the more effectually to answer their purpose. Instead of about two hundred natives, including women and children, which M. de Langle found there at about half after one, they were, at three o'clock, increased to the alarming number of one thousand and two hundred. M. de Langle's situation became every instant more embarrassing; he found means, however, to ship his water, but the bay was almost dry, and he had not any hopes of getting off the long-boats till four in the afternoon. He and his detachment, however, stepped into them, and took post in the bow with his musket and musketeers, forbidding any one to fire without his command; which he knew would speedily be found necessary. Stones were now violently thrown by the Indians, who were up to their knees in water, and surrounded the long-boats, at the distance of about six feet; the soldiers, who were embarked, making feeble efforts to keep them off.

M. de Langle, still hoping to check hostilities, without effusion of blood, gave no orders, all this time, for firing a volley of musketry and swivels; but shortly after, a shower of stones, thrown with incredible force, struck almost every one in the long-boat. M. de Langle had only fired two shots, when he was knocked overboard, and massacred with clubs and stones by about two hundred Indians. The long-boat of the Boussole, commanded by M. de Boutin, was aground near the Astrolabe, leaving between them a channel unoccupied by the Indians. Many saved themselves by swimming, who fortunately got on board the barges, which keeping afloat, forty-nine persons were saved out of the sixty-one, of which the party consisted. M. Boutin was knocked down by a stone, but fortunately fell between the two long-boats, on board of which not a man remained in the space of about five minutes. Those who preserved their lives by swimming to the two barges, received several wounds; but those who unhappily fell on the other side were instantly despatched by the clubs of the remorseless Indians.

The crews of the barges, who had killed many of the islanders with their muskets, now began to make more room by throwing their water-casks overboard. They had also nearly exhausted their ammunition, and their retreat was rendered difficult, a number of wounded persons lying stretched out upon the thwarts, and impeding the working of the oars. To the prudence of M. Vaujaus, and the discipline kept up by M. Mouton, who commanded the Boussole's barge, the public are indebted for the preservation of the forty-nine persons of both crews who escaped. M. Bouton had received five wounds in the head, and one in the breast, and was kept above water by the cockswain of the longboat who had himself received a severe wound. M. Colinet was discovered in a state of insensibility upon the grapnel-rope of the barge, with two wounds on the head, an arm fractured, and a finger broken. M. Lavaux, surgeon of the Astrolabe, was obliged to suffer the operation of the trepan. M. de Lamanon, and M. de Langle, were cruelly massacred with Talio, master at arms of the Boussole, and nine other persons belonging to the two crews. M. le Gobien, who commanded the Astrolabe's lon g -boat, did not desert his post till he was left alone when, having exhausted his ammunition, he leaped into the channel, and, notwithstanding his wounds, preserved himself on board one of the barges. A little ammunition was afterwards found, and completely exhausted on the infuriated crowd; and the boats at length extricated themselves from their lamentable situation.

At five o'clock the officers and crew of the Boussole were informed of this disastrous event; they were at that moment surrounded with about one hundred canoes, in which the natives were disposing of their provisions with security, and perfectly innocent of the catastrophe which had happened. But they were the countrymen, the brothers, the children of the infernal assassins, the thoughts of which so transported La Perouse with rage, that he could with difficulty confine himself to the limits of moderation, or hinder the crew from punishing them with death.

On the 14th of December, La Perouse stood for the island of Oyolava, which had been observed before they arrived at the anchorage which proved so fatal. This island is separated from that of Maouna, or of the Massacre, by a wide channel, and vies with Otaheite in beauty, extent, fertility, and population. At the distance of about three leagues from the north-east point, he was surrounded by canoes, laden with bread-fruit, bananas, cocoanuts, sugar-cane, pigeons, and a few hogs. The inhabitants of this island resemble those of the island of Maouna, whose treachery had been so fatally experienced. Some exchanges were conducted with these islanders with more tranquillity and honesty than at the island of Maouna, as the smallest act of injustice received immediate chastisement.

On the 17th they approached the island of Pola, but not a single canoe came off perhaps the natives had been intimidated by hearing of the event which had taken place at Maouna. Pola is a smaller island than that of Oyolava, but equally beautiful, and is only separated from it by a channel four leagues across. The natives of Maouna informed our visitros, that the Navigator's Islands are ten in number, viz. Opoun, the most easterly, Leone, Fanfoue, Maouna, Oyolava, Calinasse, Pola Skika, Ossamo, and Ouera. These islands form one of the finest archipelagoes of the South Sea, and are as interesting with respect to arts, productions, and population, as the Society and Friendly Islands, which the English navigators have so satisfactorily described. In favor of their moral characters, little remains to be noticed; gratitude cannot find a residence in their ferocious minds; nothing but fear can restrain them from outrageous and inhuman actions. The huts of these islanders are elegantly formed; though they disdain the fabrications of iron, they finish their work with wonderful neatness, with tools formed of a species of basaltes in the form of an adze. For a few glass-beads, they batered large three-legged dishes of wood, so well-polished as to have the appearance of being highly varnished. They kept up a wretched kind of police; a few, who had the appearance of chiefs, chastised the refractory with their sticks, but their assumed power seemed generally disregarded; any regulations which they attempted to enforce and to establish, were transgressed almost as soon as they were promulgated. Never were sovereigns so negligently obeyed, never were orders enforced with such feeble shadows of authority.

Imagination cannot figure to itself more agreeable situations than those of their villages. All the houses are built under fruit-trees, which render them delightfully cool; they are seated on the borders of streams, leading down from the mountains. Though the principal object in their architecture is to protect them from offensive heat, the islanders never abandoned the idea of elegance. Their houses are sufficiently spacious to accommodate several families; and they are furnished with blinds, which are drawn to the windward to prevent the intrusion of the potent rays of the sun. The natives repose upon fine comfortable mats, which are cautiously preserved from humidity. Nothing can be said, by our travelers, of the religious rites of these natives, as no moral was perceived belonging to them. The islands are fertile, and their population is supposed to be considerable. Opun, Leone, and Fanfoue, are small; but Maoune, Oyolava, and Iola, may be classed among the largest and most beautiful in the South Sea. Cocoa island is lofty, and formed like a sugar-loaf; it is nearly a mile in diameter, covered with trees, and is separated from Traitors' Island by a channel about a league wide.

At eight in the morning La Perouse brought to, to the west-south-west, at two miles from a sandy bay in the western part of the Great Island of Traitors, where he expected to find an anchorage sheltered from easterly winds. About twenty canoes instantly quitted the shore and approached the frigates in order to make exchanges; several of them were loaded with excellent cocoa-nuts, with a few yams and bananas; one of them brought a hog, and three or four fowls. It evidently appeared that these Indians had before some knowledge of Europeans, as they came near without fear, traded with honesty, and never refused to part with their fruit before they were paid for it. They spoke, however, the same language, and the same ferocity appeared in their countenances; their manner of tattooing, and the form of their canoes, were the same, but they had not, like them, two joints cut off from the little finger of the left hand; two individuals had, however, suffered that operation.

On the 27th of December, Vavao was perceived, an island which Captain Cook had never visited, but was no stranger to its existence, as one of the archipelago of the Friendly Islands; it is nearly equal in extent to that of Tongataboo, and is particularly fortunate in having no deficiency of fresh water. The two small islands of Hoongatonga are no more than two large uninhabitable rocks, which are high enough to be seen at the distance of fifteen leagues. Their position is ten leagues north of Tongataboo; but that island being low, it can hardly be seen at half that distance. On the 31st of December, at six in the morning, an appearance like the tops of trees, which seemed to grow in the water, proved the harbinger of Van Dieman's point. The wind being northerly, La Perouse steered for the south coast of the island, which may, without danger, be approached within three musket-shots. Not the semblance of a hill is to be seen; a calm sea cannot present a more level surface to the eye. The huts of the natives were scattered irregularly over the fields, and not socially collected into a conversable neighborhood. Seven or eight canoes were launched from these habitations, and directed their course towards the vessels; but these islanders were awkward seamen, and did not venture to come near, though the water was smooth, and no obstacle impeded their passage. At the distance of about eight or ten feet, they leaped overboard and swam near the frigates, holding in each hand a quantity of cocoa-nuts, which they were glad to exchange for pieces of iron, nails, and hatchets; from the honesty of their dealings a friendly intercourse ensued between the islanders and the navigators, and they ventured to come on board.

Norfolk Island, off the coast of New South Wales, which they saw on the 13th of January, is very steep, but does not exceed eighty toises above the level of the sea. It is covered with pines, which appear to be of the same species as those of New Caledonia, or New Zealand. Captain Cook having declared that he saw many cabbage-trees in this island, heightened the desire of the navigators to land on it. Perhaps the palm which produces these cabbages is very small, for not a single tree of that species could be discovered. On the 26th, at nine in the morning, La Perouse let go the anchor at a mile from the north coast of Botany Bay, in seven fathoms water. An English lieutenant, and a midshipman, were sent on board his ship by Captain Hunter, commander of the Sirius. They offered him, in Captain Hunter's name, all the services in his power; but circumstances would not permit him to supply them with provision, ammunition, or sails. An officer was despatched from the French to the English Captain, returning thanks, and adding, that his wants extended only to wood and water, of which he should find plenty in the bay. The journal of La Perouse proceeds no further. La Perouse, according to his last letters from Botany Bay, was to return to the Isle of France in 1788.

They left Botany Bay in March, and, in a letter which the commodore wrote February 7, he stated his intention to continue his researches till December, when he expected, after visiting the Friendly Islands, to arrive at the Isle of France. This was the latest intelligence received of the fate of the expedition; and M. d' Entrecasteaux, who was despatched by the French government, in 1791, in search of La Perouse, was unable to trace the course he had taken, or gain any clew to the catastrophe which had befallen him and his companions.

In 1825 the attention of the public was excited towards this mysterious affair, by a notice published by the French minister of the marine, purporting that an American captain had declared that he had seen, in the hands of one of the natives of an island in the tract between Louisiade and New Caledonia, a cross of the order of St. Louis, and some medals, which appeared to have been procured from the shipwreck of La Perouse.

In consequence of this information, the commander of a vessel which sailed from Toulon, in April, 1826, on a voyage of discovery, received orders to make researches in the quarter specified, in order to restore to their country any of the shipwrecked crew who might yet remain in existence. Other intelligence, relative to the wreck of two large vessels, on two different islands of the New Hebrides, was obtained by Captain Dillon, the commander of an English vessel at Tucopia, in his passage from Valparaiso to Pondicherry, in May, 1826, in consequence of which he was sent back to ascertain the truth of the matter. The facts discovered by him on this mission, were, that the two ships struck on a reef at Mallicolo; one of them immediately went down, and all on board perished; some of the crew of the other escaped, part of whom were murdered by the savages; the remainder built a small vessel and set sail, but their fate is not known. It is not certain that these were the vessels of La Perouse.