Expedition of Baron de Bougainville—Stay at Pondicherry—The "White Town" and the "Black Town"—"Right-hand" and "Left-hand"—Malacca—Singapore and its prosperity—Stay at Manilla—Touron Bay—The monkeys and the people—The marble rocks of Faifoh—Cochin-Chinese diplomacy—The Anambas—The Sultan of Madura—The straits of Madura and Allas—Cloates and the Triad Islands—Tasmania—Botany Bay and New South Wales—Santiago and Valparaiso—Return viâ Cape Horn—Expedition of Dumont d'Urville in the Astrolabe—The Peak of Teneriffe—Australia—Stay at New Zealand—Tonga-Tabu—Skirmishes—New Britain and New Guinea—First news of the fate of La Pérouse—Vanikoro and its inhabitants—Stay at Guam—Amboyna and Menado—Results of the expedition.

The expedition, the command of which was entrusted to Baron de Bougainville, was, strictly speaking, neither a scientific voyage nor a campaign of discovery. Its chief purpose was to unfurl the French flag in the extreme East, and to impress upon the governments of that region the intention of France to protect her nationalities and her interests, everywhere and at all times. The chief instructions given to the commander were that he was to convey to the sovereign of Cochin-China a letter from the king, together with some presents, to be placed on board the frigate Thetis.

M. de Bougainville was also, whenever possible, without such delays as would prejudice the main object of the expedition, to take hydrographic surveys, and to collect information upon the commerce, productions, and means of exchange, of the countries visited.

Two vessels were placed under the orders of M. de Bougainville. One, the Thetis, was an entirely new frigate, carrying forty-four cannons and three hundred sailors, no French frigate of this strength, except the Boudeuse, having ever before accomplished the voyage round the world; the other, the sloop Espérance, had twenty carronades upon the deck, and carried a hundred and twenty seamen.

The first of these vessels was under the direct orders of Baron de Bougainville, and his staff consisted of picked officers, amongst whom we may mention Longueville, Lapierre, and Baudin, afterwards captain, vice-admiral, and rear-admiral. The Espérance was commanded by Frigate-Captain De Nourquer du Camper, who, as second in command of the frigate Cleopatra, had already explored a great part of the course of the new expedition. It numbered among its officers, Turpin, afterwards vice-admiral, deputy, and aide-de-camp of Louis Philippe; Eugène Penaud, afterwards general officer, and Médéric Malavois, the future governor of Senegal.

Not one notable scientific man, such as those who had been billeted in such numbers on the Naturalist and other circumnavigating vessels, had embarked upon those of Baron de Bougainville, to whom it was a constant matter of regret, a regret intensified by the fact that the medical officers, with so many under their care, could not be long absent from the vessels when in port. M. de Bougainville's journal of the voyage opens with this judicious remark:—

"It was not many years ago a dangerous enterprise to make a voyage round the world, and scarce half a century has elapsed since the time when an expedition of this kind would have sufficed to reflect glory upon the man who directed it. This was 'the good old time,' the golden age of the circumnavigator, and the dangers and privations against which he had to struggle were repaid a hundredfold, when, rich in valuable discoveries, he hailed on his return the shores of his native land. But this is all over now; the prestige has gone, and we make our tour of the globe nowadays as we should then have made that of France."

What would Baron Yves-Hyacinth Potentien de Bougainville, the son of the vice-admiral, senator, and member of the Institut, say to-day to our admirable steamships of perfect form, and charts of such minute exactitude that distant voyages appear a mere joke.

On the 2nd March, 1824, the Thetis quitted the roads at Brest to take up at Bourbon her companion, the Espérance, which, having started some time before, had set sail for Rio de Janeiro. A short stay at Teneriffe, where the Thetis was only able to purchase some poor wine and a very small quantity of the provisions needed; a view of the Cape Verd Islands and the Cape of Good Hope in the distance, and a hunt for the fabulous island of Saxemberg, and some rocks no less fictitious, were the only incidents of the voyage to Bourbon, where the Espérance had already arrived.

Bourbon was at this time so familiar a point with the navigators that there was little to be said about it, when its two open roads of St. Denis and St. Paul had been mentioned. St. Denis, the capital, situated on the north of Bourbon, and at the extremity of a sloping table-land, was, properly speaking, merely a large town, without enclosure or walls, and each house in it was surrounded by a garden. There were no public buildings or places of interest worth mentioning except the governor's palace, situated in such a position as to command a view of the whole road; the botanic garden and the "Jardin de Naturalisation," which dates from 1817. The former, which is in the centre of the town, contains some beautiful walks, unfortunately but little frequented, and it is admirably kept. The eucalyptus, the giant of the Australian forests, thePhormium tenax, the New Zealand hemp-plant, the casuarina (the pine of Madagascar), the baobab, with its trunk of prodigious size, the carambolas, the sapota, the vanilla, combined to beautify this garden, which was refreshed by streams of sparkling water. The second, upon the brow of a hill, formed of terraces rising one above the other, to which several brooklets give life and fertility, was specially devoted to the acclimatisation of European trees and plants. The apple, peach, apricot, cherry, and pear-trees, which have thriven well, have already supplied the colony with valuable shoots. The vine was also grown in this garden, together with the tea-plant, and several rarer species, amongst which Bougainville noted with delight the "Laurea argentea," with its bright leaves.

On the 9th June the two vessels left the roads of St. Denis. After having doubled the shoals of La Fortune and Saya de Malha, and passed off the Seychelles, whilst among the atolls to the south of the Maldive Islands, which are level with the surface of the water and covered with bushy trees ending in a cluster of cocoas, they sighted the island of Ceylon and the Coromandel coast, and cast anchor before Pondicherry.

Natives of Pondicherry
Natives of Pondicherry.


Ancient idols near Pondicherry
Ancient idols near Pondicherry.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

This part of India is far from answering to the "enchantress" idea which the dithyrambic descriptions of writers who have celebrated its marvels have led Europeans to form. The number of public buildings and monuments at Pondicherry will scarcely bear counting, and when one has visited the more curious of the pagodas, and the "boilers," whose only recommendation is their utility, there is nothing very interesting, except the novelty of the scenes met with at every turn. The town is divided into two well-defined quarters. The one called the "white town," dull and deserted in spite of its coquettish-looking buildings, and the far more interesting "black town," with its bazaars, its jugglers, its massive pagodas, and the attractive dances of the bayadères.

"The Indian population upon the coast of Coromandel," says the narrative, "is divided into two classes,—the 'right-hand' and the 'left.' This division originated under the government of a nabob against whom the people revolted; those who remained faithful to the prince being distinguished by the designation of 'right-hand,' and the rest by that of 'left-hand.' These two great tribes, which divide between them almost equally the entire population, are in a chronic state of hostility against the holders of the ranks and prerogatives obtained by the friends of the prince. The latter, however, retain the offices in the gift of the government, whilst the others are engaged in commerce. To maintain peace amongst them it was necessary to allow them to retain their ancient processions and ceremonies.... The 'right-hand' and 'left-hand' are subdivided into eighteen castes or guilds, full of pretensions and prejudices, not diminished even by the constant intercourse with Europeans which has now for centuries been maintained. Hence have arisen feelings of rivalry and contempt, which would be the source of sanguinary wars, were it not that the Hindus have a horror of bloodshed, and that their temperament renders them averse to conflict. These two facts, i.e. the gentleness of the native disposition and the constant presence of an element of discord amongst the various tribes, must ever be borne in mind if we would understand the political phenomenon of more than fifty millions of men submitting to the yoke of some five and twenty or thirty thousand foreigners."

The Thetis and the Espérance quitted the roadstead of Pondicherry on the 30th July, crossed the Sea of Bengal, sighted the islands of Nicobar and Pulo-Penang, with its free port capable of holding 300 ships at a time. They then entered the Straits of Malacca, and remained in the Dutch port of that name from the 24th to the 26th July, to repair damages sustained by the Espérance, so that she might hold out as far as Manilla. The intercourse of the explorers with the Resident and the inhabitants generally were all the more pleasant that it was confirmed by banquets given on land and on board the Thetis in honour of the kings of France and the Netherlands. The Dutch were expecting soon to cede this station to the English, and this cession took place shortly afterwards. It must be added, with regard to Malacca, that in point of fertility of soil, pleasantness of situation and facilities for obtaining all really necessary supplies, it was superior to its rivals.

Bougainville set out again on August 26th, and was tossed about by head-winds, and troubled alike by calms and storms during the remainder of his passage through the straits. As these latitudes were more frequented than any others by Malay pirates, the commandant placed sentries on the watch and took all precautions against surprise, although his force was strong enough to be above fearing any enemy. It was no uncommon thing to see fly-boats manned by a hundred seamen, and more than one merchant-ship had recently fallen a prey to these unmolested and incorrigible corsairs. The squadron, however, saw nothing to awake any suspicions, and continued its course to Singapore.

The population of this town is a curious mixture of races, and our travellers met with Europeans engaged in the chief branches of commerce; Armenian and Arabian merchants, and Chinese; some planters, others following the various trades demanded by the requirements of the population. The Malays, who seemed out of place in an advancing civilization, either led a life of servitude, or slept away their time in indolence and misery whilst the Hindus, expelled from their country for crime, practised the indescribable trades which in all great cities alone save the scum from dying of starvation. It was only in 1819 that the English procured from the Malayan sultan of Johore the right to settle in the town of Singapore; and the little village in which they established themselves then numbered but 150 inhabitants, although, thanks to Sir Stamford Raffles, a town soon rose on the site of the unpretending cabins of the natives. By a wise stroke of policy all customs-duties were abolished; and the natural advantages of the new city, with its extensive and secure port, were supplemented and perfected by the hand of man.

The garrison numbered only 300 sepoys and thirty gunners; there were as yet no fortifications, and the artillery equipment consisted merely of one battery of twenty cannons, and as many bronze field-pieces. Indeed, Singapore was simply one large warehouse, to which Madras sent cotton cloth; Calcutta, opium; Sumatra, pepper; Java, arrack and spices; Manilla, sugar and arrack; all forthwith despatched to Europe, China, Siam, &c. Of public buildings there appeared to be none. There were no stores, no careening-wharves, no building-yards, no barracks, and the visitors noticed but one small church for native converts.

The squadron resumed its voyage on the 2nd September, and reached the harbour of Cavité without any mishap. Meanwhile, M. du Camper, commander of theEspérance who had, during a residence of some years, become acquainted with the principal inhabitants, was ordered to go to Manilla, that he might inform the Governor-General of the Philippines of the arrival of the frigates, the reasons of their visit, &c., and at the same time gauge his feelings towards them, and form some idea of the reception the French might expect. The recent intervention of France in the affairs of Spain placed them indeed in a very delicate position with the then governor, Don Juan Antonio Martinez, who had been nominated to his post by the very Cortés which had just been overthrown by their government. The fears of the commandant, however, were not confirmed, for he met with the warmest kindness and most cordial co-operation from the Spanish authorities.

Cavité Bay, where the vessels cast anchor, was constantly encumbered with mud, but it was the chief port in the Philippine Islands, and there the Spaniards owned a very well supplied arsenal in which worked Indians from the surrounding districts, who though skilful and intelligent were excessively lazy. Whilst the Thetis was being sheathed, and the extensive repairs necessary to the Espérance were being carried out, the clerks and officers were at Manilla, seeing about the supply of provisions and cordage. The latter, which was made of "abaca," the fibre of a banana, vulgarly called "Manilla hemp," although recommended on account of its great elasticity, was not of much use on board ship. The delay at Manilla was rendered very disagreeable by earthquakes and typhoons, which are always of constant occurrence there. On October 24th there was an earthquake of such violence that the governor, troops, and a portion of the people were compelled hastily to leave the town, and the loss was estimated at 120,000l. Many houses were thrown down, eight people were buried in the ruins, and many others injured. Scarcely had the inhabitants begun to breathe freely again, when a frightful typhoon came to complete the panic. It lasted only part of the night of the 31st October, and the next day, when the sun rose, it might have been looked upon as a mere nightmare had not the melancholy sight of fields laid waste, and of the harbour with six ships lying on their sides, and all the others at anchor, almost entirely disabled, testified to the reality of the disaster. All around the town the country was devastated, the crops were ruined, the trees—even the largest of them—violently shaken, the village destroyed. It was a heart-rending spectacle! The Espérance had its main-mast and mizen-mast lifted several feet above deck, and its barricadings were carried off; the Thetis, more fortunate than its companion, escaped almost uninjured in the dreadful tempest.

The laziness of the workpeople, and the great number of holidays in which they indulge, early decided Bougainville to part for a time from his convoy, and on December 12th he set sail for Cochin-China. Before following the French to the little-frequented shores of that country, however, we must survey with them Manilla and its environs. The Bay of Manilla is one of the most extensive and beautiful in the world; numerous fleets might find anchorage in it; and its two channels were not yet closed to foreign vessels, and in 1798 two English frigates had been allowed to pass through them and carry off numerous vessels under the very guns of the town. The horizon is shut in by a barrier of mountains, ending on the south of the Taal, a volcano now almost extinct, but the eruptions of which have often caused frightful calamities. In the plains, framed in rice plantations, several hamlets and solitary houses give animation to the scene. Opposite to the mouth of the bay rises the town, containing 60,000 inhabitants, with its lighthouse and far-extending suburbs. It is watered by the Passig, a river issuing from Bay Lake, and its exceptionally good situation secures to it advantages which more than one capital might envy. The garrison, without including the militia, consisted at that time of 2200 soldiers; and, in addition to the military navy, always represented by some vessel at anchor, a marine service had been organized for the exclusive use of the colony, to which the name of "sutil" had been given, either on account of the small size, or the fleetness of the vessels employed. This service, all appointments in which are in the gift of the governor-general, is composed of schooners and gun-sloops, intended to protect the coasts and the trading-vessels against the pirates of Sulu. But it cannot be said that the organization, imposing as it is, has achieved any great results. Of this Bougainville gives the following curious illustration:—In 1828 the Suluans seized 3000 of the inhabitants upon the coast of Luzon, and an expedition sent against them cost 140,000 piastres, and resulted in the killing of six men!

Near the Bay of Manilla
Near the Bay of Manilla.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

Great uneasiness prevailed in the Philippines at the time of the visit of the Thetis and the Espérance, and a political reaction which had steeped the metropolis in blood had thrown a gloom over every one. On December 20th, 1820, a massacre of the whites by the Indians; in 1824, the mutiny of a regiment, and the assassination of an ex-governor, Senor de Folgueras, had been the first horrors which had endangered the supremacy of the Spanish.

The Creoles, who, with the Tagalas, were alike the richest and most industrious classes of the true native population, at this time gave just cause for uneasiness to the government, because they were known to desire the expulsion of all who were not natives of the Philippines; and when it is borne in mind that they commanded the native regiments, and held the greater part of the public offices, it is easy to see how great must have been their influence. Well might people ask whether they were not on the eve of one of those revolutions which lost to Spain her fairest colonies.

Until the Thetis reached Macao, she was much harassed by squalls, gales, heavy showers, and an intensity of cold, felt all the more keenly by the navigators after their experience for several months of a temperature of 75¾° Fahrenheit. Scarcely was anchor cast in the Canton river before a great number of native vessels came to examine the frigate, offering for sale vegetables, fish, oranges, and a multitude of trifles, once so rare, now so common, but always costly.

"The town of Macao," says the narrative, "shut in between bare hills, can be seen from afar; the whiteness of its buildings rendering it very conspicuous. It partly faces the coast, and the houses, which are elegantly built, line the beach, following the natural contour of the shore. The parade is also the finest part of the town, and is much frequented by foreigners; behind it, the ground rises abruptly, and the façades of the buildings, such as convents, noticeable for their size and peculiar architecture, rise, so to speak, from the second stage; the whole being crowned by the embattled walls of the forts, over which floated the white flag of Portugal.

"At the northern and southern extremities of the town, facing the sea, are batteries built in three stages; and near the first, but a little further inland, rises a church with a very effective portico and fine external decorations. Numerous sampangs, junks, and fishing-boats anchored close in shore, give animation to the scene, the setting of which would be much brightened if the heights overlooking the town were not so totally wanting in verdure."

Situated as it is in the high road, between China and the rest of the world, Macao, once one of the chief relics of Portuguese colonial prosperity, long enjoyed exceptional privileges, all of which were, however, gone by 1825, when its one industry was a contraband trade in opium.

The Thetis only touched at Macao to leave some missionaries, and to hoist the French flag, and Bougainville set sail again on January 8th.

Nothing worthy of notice occurred on the voyage from Macao to Touron Bay. Arrived there, Bougainville learned that the French agent, M. Chaigneu, had left Hué for Saigon, with the intention of there chartering a barque for Singapore, and in the absence of the only person who could further his schemes he did not know with whom to open relations. Fearing failure as an inevitable result of this contretemps he at once despatched a letter to Hué, explaining the object of his mission, and expressing a wish to go with some of his officers to Saigon. The time which necessarily elapsed before an answer was received was turned to account by the French, who minutely surveyed the bay and its surroundings, together with the famous marble rocks, the objects of the curious interest of all travellers. Touron Bay has been described by various authors, notably by Horsburgh, as one of the most beautiful and vast in the universe; but such is not the opinion of Bougainville, who thinks these statements are to be taken with a great deal of reservation. The village of Touron is situated upon the sea-coast, at the entrance of the channel of Faifoh, from the right bank of which rises a fort with glacis, bastions, and a dry moat, built by French engineers.

The French being looked upon as old allies were always received with kindness and without suspicion. It had not, apparently, been so with the English, who had not been permitted to land, whilst the sailors on board the Thetis were at once allowed to fish and hunt, and to go and come as they chose, every facility for obtaining fresh provisions being also accorded to them. Thanks to this latitude, the officers were able to scour the country and make interesting observations. One of them, M. de la Touanne, gives the following description of the natives:—"They are rather under than over middle height, and in this respect they closely resemble the Chinese of Macao. Their skin is of a yellowish-brown, and their heads are flat and round; their faces are without expression, their eyes are as melancholy, but their eyebrows are not so strongly marked as those of the Chinese. They have flat noses and large mouths, and their lips bulge out in a way rendered the more disagreeable as they are always black and dirty from the habit indulged in, by men and women alike, of chewing areca nut mixed with betel and lime. The women, who are almost as tall as the men, have not a more pleasant appearance; and the repulsive filthiness, common to both sexes, is enough without anything else to deprive them of all attractiveness."

Women of Touron Bay
Women of Touron Bay.

What strikes one most is the wretchedness of the inhabitants as compared with the fertility of the soil, and this shocking contrast betrays alike the selfishness and carelessness of the government and the insatiable greed of the mandarins. The plains produce maize, yams, manioc, tobacco, and rice, the flourishing appearance of which testifies to the care bestowed upon them; the sea yields large quantities of delicious fish, and the forests give shelter to numerous birds, as well as tigers, rhinoceroses, buffaloes, and elephants, and troops of monkeys are to be met with everywhere, some of them four feet high, with bodies of a pearl-grey colour, black thighs, and red legs. They wear red collars and white girdles, which make them look just as if they were clothed. Their muscular strength is extraordinary, and they clear enormous distances in leaping from branch to branch. Nothing can be odder than to see some dozen of these creatures upon one tree indulging in the most fantastic grimaces and contortions. "One day," says Bougainville, "when I was at the edge of the forest, I wounded a monkey who had ventured forth for a stroll in the sunshine. He hid his face in his hands and sent forth such piteous groans that more than thirty of his tribe were about him in a moment. I lost no time in reloading my gun not knowing what I might have to expect, for some monkeys are not afraid of attacking men; but the troop only took up their wounded comrade, and once more plunged into the wood."

Another excursion was made to the marble rocks of the Faifoh River, where are several curious caves, one containing an enormous pillar suspended from the roof and ending abruptly some distance from the ground; stalactites were seen, but the sound of a water-fall was heard from the further end. The French also visited the ruins of an ancient building near a grotto, containing an idol, and with a passage opening out of one corner. This passage Bougainville followed. It led him into an "immense rotunda lighted from the top, and ending in an arched vault, at least sixty feet high. Imagine the effect of a series of marble pillars of various colours, some from their greenish colour, the result of old age and damp, looking as if cast in bronze, whilst from the roof hung down creepers, now in festoons, now in bunches, looking for all the world like candelabra without the lights. Above our heads were groups of stalactites resembling great organ-pipes, altars, mutilated statues, hideous monsters carved in stone, and even a complete pagoda, which, however, occupied but a very small space in the vast enclosure. Fancy such a scene in an appropriate setting, the whole lit up with a dim and wavering light, and you can perhaps form some idea how it struck me when it first burst upon me."

On the 20th of January, 1825, the Espérance at last rejoined the frigate; and, two days later, two envoys arrived from the court at Hué, with orders to ask Bougainville for the letter of which he was the bearer. But, as the latter had received orders to deliver it to the Emperor in person, this request involved a long series of puerile negotiations. The formalities by which the Cochin-Chinese envoys were, so to speak, hemmed in, reminded Bougainville of the anecdote of the envoy and the governor of Java, who, rivalling each other in their gravity and diplomatic prudence, remained together for twenty-four hours without exchanging a word. The commander was not the man to endure such trial of patience as this, but he could not obtain the necessary authorization of his explorations, and the negotiations ended in an exchange of presents, securing nothing in fact but an assurance from the Emperor that he would receive with pleasure a visit of the French vessels to his ports, if their captain and officers would conform to the laws of the Empire. Since 1817 the French had been pretty well the only people who had done any satisfactory business with the people of Cochin-China, a state of things resulting from the presence of French residents at the court of Hué, on whom alone of course depended the maintenance of the exceptionally cordial relations so long established between them and the government to which they were accredited.

The two ships left Touron Bay on the 17th February for the Anambas Archipelago, which had not as yet been explored; and, on the 3rd of March, they came in sight of it, and found it to bear no resemblance whatever to the islands of the same name, marked upon the English map of the China Sea. Bougainville was agreeably surprised to see a large number of islands and islets, the bays, &c., of which were sure to afford excellent anchorage during the monsoons. The explorers penetrated to the very heart of the archipelago, and made a hydrographic survey of it. Whilst the small boats were engaged upon this task, two prettily built canoes approached, from one of which a man of about fifty came on board the Thetis, whose breast was seamed with scars, and from whose right-hand two fingers were missing. The sight of the rows of guns and ammunition, however, so terrified him that he beat a hasty retreat to his canoe, though he had already got as far as the orlop-deck. Next day two more canoes approached, manned by fierce-looking Malays, bringing bananas, cocoa-nuts, and pineapples, which they bartered for biscuits, a handkerchief, and two small axes. Several other interviews took place with islanders, armed with the kriss, and short two-edged iron pikes, who were very evidently pirates by profession.

Although the French explored but a part of the Anamba group, the information they collected was extremely interesting on account of its novelty. The first requisite of a large population is plenty of fresh water, and there is apparently very little of it in the Anambas. Moreover, the cultivable soil is not very deep, and the mountains are separated by narrow ravines, not by plains, so that agriculture is all but out of the question. Even the native trees, with the exception of the cocoa-palm, are very stunted. The population was estimated by a native at not more than 2000, but Bougainville thought even that too high a figure. The fortunate position of the Anambas—they are passed by all vessels trading with China, whichever route may be taken—long since brought them to the notice of navigators; and we must attribute to their lack of resources the neglect to which they have been abandoned. The small amount of cordiality and confidence met with by Bougainville from the inhabitants, the high price of provisions, and the destructive nature of the monsoons in the Sunda waters, determined him to cut short his survey and to make with all speed for Java, where his instructions compelled him to touch. The 8th of March was fixed for the departure of the two vessels, which sighted Victory, Barren, Saddle, and Camel Islands, passed through the Gasper Straits—the passage of which did not occupy more than two hours, although it often takes several days with an unfavourable wind—and cast anchor at Surabaya, where the explorers were met with the news of the death of Louis XVIII. and the accession of Charles X. As the cholera, which had claimed 300,000 victims in Java in 1822, was still raging, Bougainville took the precaution of keeping his crew on board under shelter from the sun, and expressly forbade any intercourse with vessels laden with fruit, the use of which is so dangerous to Europeans, especially during the rainy season then setting in. In spite of these wise orders, however, dysentery attacked the crew of the Thetis, and too many fell victims to it.

The town of Surabaya is situated one league from the mouth of the river, and it can only be reached by towing up the stream. Its approaches are lively, and everything bears witness to the presence of an active commercial population. An expedition to the island of Celebes having exhausted the resources of the government and the magazines being empty, Bougainville had to deal direct with the Chinese merchants, who are the most bare-faced robbers on the face of the globe, and now resorted to all manner of cunning and knavery to get the better of their visitors. The stay at Surabaya, therefore, left a very disagreeable impression on all. It was quite different, however, with regard to the reception met with from the chief personages of the colony, for there was every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of all connected with the government.

To go to Surabaya without paying a visit to the Sultan of Madura, whose reputation for hospitality had crossed the seas, would have been as impossible as it is to visit Paris without going to see Versailles and Trianon. After a comfortable lunch on shore, therefore, the staff of the two vessels set out in open carriages and four; but the roads were so bad and the horses so worn out that they would many a time have stuck in the mud if men stationed at the dangerous places had not energetically shoved at the wheels. At last they arrived at Bankalan, and the carriages drew up in the third court of the palace at the foot of a staircase, at the top of which the hereditary prince and the prime minister awaited the arrival of the travellers. Prince Adden Engrate belonged to the most illustrious family of the Indian Archipelago. He wore the undress uniform of a Java chief, consisting of a long flowered petticoat of Indian make, scarcely allowing the Chinese slippers to be seen, a white vest with gold buttons, and a small skirted waistcoat of brown cloth, with diamond buttons. A handkerchief was tied about his head, on which he wore a visor-cap, his ease and dignity of bearing alone saving him from looking like the grotesque figure of a carnival amazon. The palace or "kraton" consisted of a series of buildings with galleries, kept delightfully cool by awnings and curtains, whilst lustres, tasty European furniture, pretty hangings, glass and crystal ornaments decorated the vast halls and rooms. A suite of private apartments, with no opening to the court, but with a view of the gardens, is reserved for the "Ratu" (sovereign) and the harem.

The reception was cordial, and the repast, served in European style, was delicious. "The conversation," says Bougainville, "was conducted in English, and many toasts were proposed, the prince drinking our healths in tea poured from a bottle, and to which he helped himself as if it had been Madeira. Being head of the church as well as of the state, he strictly obeys the precepts of the Koran, never drinking wine, and spending a great part of his time at the mosque; but he is not the less sociable, and his talk bears no trace of the austerity to be expected in that of one who leads so regular a life. This life is not, however, all spent in prayer, and the scenes witnessed by us would give a very false impression if we did not know that great latitude is allowed on this point to the followers of the prophet."

In the afternoon the Frenchmen visited several coach-houses, containing very handsome carriages, some of which, built on the island, were so well-made that it was absolutely impossible to distinguish them from those which had been imported. Some archery was then witnessed, and joined in, after which, on the return to the palace, the visitors were welcomed by the sound of melancholy music, speedily interrupted, however, by the barking and fantastical dancing of the prince's fool, who showed wonderful agility and suppleness. To this dance, or rather to these postures of a bayadère, succeeded the excitement of vingt-et-un, followed by well-earned repose. Next day there were new entertainments and new exercises; beginning with wrestling-matches for grown men and for youths, and proceeding with quail-fights, and feats performed by a camel and an elephant. After lunch Bougainville and his party had a drive and some archery, and witnessed sack-races, basket-balancing, &c. In this way, they were told, the sultan passed all his time. Most striking is the respect and submission shown by all to this sovereign. No one ever stands upright before him, but all prostrate themselves before addressing him. All his subjects do but "wait at his feet," and even his own little child of four years clasps his tiny hands when he speaks to his father.

While at Surabaya, Bougainville took the opportunity of visiting the volcano of Brumo, in the Tengger Mountains; and this excursion, in which he explored the island for a hundred miles, from east to west, was one of the most interesting undertaken by him. Surabaya contains some curious buildings and monuments, most of them the work of a former governor, General Daendels; such are the "Builder's Workshop," the "Hôtel de la Monnaie" (the only establishment of the kind in Java), and the hospital, which is built on a well-chosen site, and contains 400 beds. The island of Madura, opposite to Surabaya, is at least 100 miles in length, by fifteen or twenty in breadth, and does not yield produce sufficient to maintain the population, sparse as it is. The sovereignty of this island is divided between the sultans of Bankalan and Sumanap, who furnish annually six hundred recruits to the Dutch, without counting extraordinary levies.

On the 20th April, symptoms of dysentery showed themselves amongst the crews. Two days later therefore the vessel set sail, and it took seven good days to get beyond the straits of Madura. They returned along the north coast of Lombok, and passed through the Allas Straits, between Lombok and Sumbawa. The first of these islands, from the foot of the mountains to the sea, presents the appearance of a green carpet, adorned with groups of trees of elegant appearance, and upon its coast there is no lack of good anchorage, whilst fresh water and wood are plentiful. On the other side, however, there are numerous peaks of barren aspect, rising from a lofty table-land, the approach to which is barred by a series of rugged and inaccessible islands, known as Lombok, the coral-beds and treacherous currents about which must be carefully avoided. Two stoppages at the villages of Baly and Peejow, with a view to taking in fresh provisions, enabled the officers to make a hydrographical chart of this part of the coast of Lombok. Upon leaving the strait, Bougainville made an unsuccessful search for Cloates Island. That he did not find it is not very wonderful, as during the last eight years many ships have passed over the spot assigned to it upon the maps. The "Triads," on the other hand, i.e. the rocks seen in 1777 by theFreudensberg Castle, are, in Captain King's opinion, the Montepello Islands, which correspond perfectly with the description of the Danes.

Bougainville had instructions to survey the neighbourhood of the Swan River, where the French Government hoped to find a place suitable for the reception of the wretches then huddled together in their convict-prisons; but the flag of England had just been unfurled on the shores of Nuyts and Leuwin, in King George's Sound, Géographe Bay, the little Leschenault inlet, and on the Swan River, so that there was no longer any reason for a new exploration. Everything in fact had combined to prevent it; the delays to which the expedition had been subjected had indeed been so serious that instead of arriving in these latitudes in April, they did not reach them until the middle of May, there the very heart of winter. Moreover, the coast offers no shelter, for so soon as the wind begins to blow, the waves swell tremendously, and the memory of the trials which the Géographe had undergone at the same season of the year was still fresh in the minds of the French. The Thetis and the Espérancewere pursued by the bad weather as far as Hobart Town, the chief English station upon the coast of Tasmania, where the commander was very anxious to put in. He was, however, driven back by storms to Port Jackson, which is marked by a very handsome lighthouse, a granite tower seventy-six feet high, with a lantern lit by gas, visible at a distance of nine leagues.

Entrance to Sydney Bay
Entrance to Sydney Bay.

Sir Thomas Brisbane, the governor, gave a cordial reception to the expedition, and at once took the necessary steps to furnish it with provisions. This was done by contract at low prices, and the greatest good faith was shown in carrying out all bargains. The sloop had to be run ashore to have its sheathing repaired, but this, with some work of less importance necessary to the Thetis, did not take long. The delay was also turned to account by the whole staff, who were greatly interested in the marvellous progress of this penal colony. While Bougainville was eagerly reading all the works which had as yet appeared upon New South Wales, the officers wandered about the town, and were struck dumb with amazement at the numberless public buildings erected by Governor Macquarie, such as the barracks, hospital, market, orphanages, almshouses for the aged and infirm, the prison, the fort, the churches, government-house, the fountains, the town gates, and last but not least, the government-stables, which are always at first sight taken for the palace itself. There was, however, a dark side to the picture. The main thoroughfares, though well-planned, were neither paved nor lighted, and were so unsafe at night, that several people had been seized and robbed in the very middle of George Street, the best quarter of Sydney. If the streets in the town were unsafe, those in the suburbs were still more so. Vagrant convicts overran the country in the form of bands of "bushrangers," who had become so formidable that the government had recently organized a company of fifty dragoons for the express purpose of hunting them down. All this did not, however, hinder the officers from making many interesting excursions, such as those to Paramatta, on the banks of the Nepean, a river very deeply embanked, where they visited the Regent Ville district; and to the "plains of Emu," a government agricultural-station, and a sort of model farm. They went to the theatre, where a grand performance was given in their honour. The delight sailors take in riding is proverbial, and it was on horseback that the French crossed the Emu plains. The noble animals, imported from England, had not degenerated in New South Wales; they were still full of spirit as one of the young officers found to his cost, when, as he was saying in English to Sir John Cox, acting as cicerone to the party, "I do love this riding exercise," he was suddenly thrown over his horse's head and deposited on the grass before he knew where he was. The laugh against him was all the more hearty as the skilful horseman was not injured.

Beyond Sir John Cox's plantations extends the unbroken "open forest," as the English call it, which can be crossed on horseback, and consists chiefly of the eucalyptus, acacias of various kinds, and the dark-leaved casuarinas. The next day, an excursion was made up the river Nepean, a tributary of the Hawkesbury, on which trip many valuable facts of natural history were obtained, Bougainville enriching his collection with canaries, waterfowl, and a very pretty species of kingfisher and cockatoos. In the neighbouring woods was heard the unpleasant cry of the lyre-pheasant and of two other birds, which feebly imitate the tinkling of a hand-bell and the jarring noise of the saw. These are not, however, the only feathered fowl remarkable for the peculiarity of their notes; we must also mention the "whistling-bird," the "knife-grinder," the "mocking-bird," the "coachman," which mimics the crack of the whip, and the "laughing jackass," with its continual bursts of laughter, which have a strange effect upon the nerves. Sir John Cox presented the commander with two specimens of the water-mole, also called the ornithorhynchus, a curious amphibious creature, the habits of which are still little known to European naturalists, many museums not possessing a single specimen.

Another excursion was made in the Blue Mountains, where the famous "King's Table-land" was visited, from which a magnificent view was obtained. The explorers gained with great difficulty the top of an eminence, and an abyss of 1600 feet at once opened beneath them; a vast green carpet stretching away to a distance of some twenty miles, whilst on the right and left were the distorted sides of the mountain, which had been rudely rent asunder by some earthquake, the irregularities corresponding exactly with each other. Close at hand foams a roaring, rushing torrent, flinging itself in a series of cascades into the valley beneath, the whole passing under the name of "Apsley's Waterfall." This trip was succeeded by a kangaroo hunt in the cow-pastures with Mr. Macarthur, one of the chief promoters of the prosperity of New South Wales. Bougainville also turned his stay at Sydney to account by laying the foundation-stone of a monument to the memory of La Pérouse. This cenotaph was erected in Botany Bay, upon the spot where the navigator had pitched his camp.

Apsley's Waterfall
"Apsley's Waterfall."

On September 21st the Thetis and the Espérance at last set sail; passing off Pitcairn Island, Easter Island, and Juan Fernandez, now a convict settlement for criminals from Chili, after having been occupied for a half-century by Spanish vine-growers.

On the 23rd November the Thetis, which had been separated from the Espérance during a heavy storm, anchored off Valparaiso, where it met Admiral de Rosamel's division. Great excitement prevailed in the roadstead, for an expedition against the island of Chiloë, which still belonged to Spain, was being organized by the chief director, General Ramon Freire y Serrano, of whom we have already spoken.

Bougainville, like the Russian navigator Lütke, is of opinion that the position of Valparaiso does not justify its reputation. The streets are dirty and narrow, and so steep that walking in them is very fatiguing. The only pleasant part is the suburb of Almendral, which, with its gardens and orchards, would be still more agreeable but for the sand-storms prevalent throughout nearly the whole of the year. In 1811, Valparaiso numbered only from four to five thousand inhabitants; but in 1825 the population had already tripled itself, and the increase showed no sign of ceasing. When the Thetis touched at Valparaiso, the English frigate, the Blonde, commanded by Lord Byron, grandson of the explorer of the same name, whose discoveries are narrated above, was also at anchor there. By a singular coincidence Byron had raised a monument to the memory of Cook in the island of Hawaii, at the very time when Bougainville, the son of the circumnavigator, met by Byron in the Straits of Magellan, was laying the foundation-stone of the monument to the memory of La Pérouse in New South Wales.

Bougainville turned the delay necessary for the revictualling of his division to account by paying a visit to Santiago, the capital of Chili, thirty-three leagues inland. The environs of Chili are terribly bare, without houses or any signs of cultivation. Its steeples alone mark the approach to it, and one may fancy oneself still in the outskirts when the heart of the city is reached. There is, however, no lack of public buildings, such as the Hôtel de la Monnaie, the university, the archbishop's palace, the cathedral, the church of the Jesuits, the palace, and the theatre, the last of which is so badly lighted that it is impossible to distinguish the faces of the audience. The promenade, known as La Cañada, has now supplanted that of L'Alameda on the banks of the river Mapocha, once the evening rendezvous. The objects of interest in the town exhausted, the Frenchmen examined those in the neighbourhood, visiting the Salto de Agua, a waterfall of 1200 feet in height, the ascent to which is rather arduous, and the Cerito de Santa-Lucia, from which rises a fortress, the sole defence of the town.

The season was now advancing, and no time was to be lost if the explorers wished to take advantage of the best season for doubling Cape Horn. On the 8th January, 1826, therefore, the two vessels once more put to sea, and rounded the Cape without any mishap, though landing at the Falklands was rendered impossible by fog and contrary winds. Anchor was cast on the 28th March in the roadstead of Rio Janeiro, and, as it turned out, at a time most favourable for the French to form an accurate opinion alike on the city and the court.

"The emperor," says Bougainville, "was upon a journey at the time of our arrival, and his return was the occasion of fêtes and receptions which roused the population to activity, and broke for a time the monotony of ordinary life in Rio, that dullest and dreariest of towns to the foreigner. Its environs, however, are charming; nature has in them been lavish of her riches; and the vast harbour, the Atlantic, rendezvous of the commercial world, presents a most animated scene. Innumerable ships, either standing in or getting under weigh, small craft cruising about, a ceaseless roar of cannon from the forts and men-of-war, exchanging signals on the occasion of some anniversary or the celebration of some festival of the church, whilst visits were constantly being exchanged between the officers of the various foreign vessels and the diplomatic agents of foreign powers at the court of Rio."

The division set sail again on the 11th April, and arrived at Brest on the 24th June, 1826, without having put into port since it left Rio Janeiro. We must remember that if Bougainville did not make any discoveries on this voyage, he had no formal instructions to do so, his mission being merely to unfurl the flag of France where it had as yet been rarely seen. None the less do we owe to this general officer some very interesting, and in some cases new information on the countries visited by him. Some of the surveys made by his expedition may be of service to navigators, and it must be owned that the hydrographical researches which alone could be undertaken in the absence of scientific men were carefully made, and resulted in the obtaining of numerous and accurate data. We can but sympathize with the commander of the Thetis, in his expression of regret, in the preface to his journal, that neither the Government nor the Académie des Sciences had seen fit to turn his expedition to account to obtain new results supplementary of the rich harvest gleaned by his predecessors.

The expedition next sent out under the command of Captain Dumont d'Urville was merely intended by the minister to supplement and consolidate the mass of scientific data collected by Captain Duperrey in his voyage from 1822 to 1824. As second in command to Duperrey, and the originator and organizer of the new exploring expedition, D'Urville had the very first claim to be appointed to its command. The portions of Oceania he proposed to visit were New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, the Loyalty Islands, New Britain, and New Guinea, all of which he considered urgently to demand the consideration alike of the geographer and the traveller. What he effected in this direction we shall ascertain by following him step by step. An interest of another character also attaches to this trip, but it will be well to quote on this point the instructions given to the navigator.

"An American captain," writes the Minister of Marine, "said that he saw in the hands of the natives of an isle situated between New Caledonia and the Louisiade Archipelago a cross of St. Louis and some medals, which he imagined to be relics of the wrecked vessel of the celebrated La Pérouse, whose loss is so deeply and justly regretted. This is, of course, but a feeble reason for hoping that some of the victims of the disaster still survive; but you, sir, will give great satisfaction to his Majesty, if you are the means of restoring any one of the poor shipwrecked mariners to their native land after so many years of misery and exile."

The aims of the expedition were therefore manifold, and by the greatest chance it was able to achieve them nearly all. D'Urville received his appointment in December, 1825, and was permitted himself to choose all who were to accompany him. He named as second in command Lieutenant Jacquinot, and as scientific colloborateurs Messrs. Quoy and Gaimard, who had been on board the Uranie, and as surgeon Primevère Lesson. The Coquille, the excellent qualities of which were well known to D'Urville, was the vessel selected; and the commander having named her the Astrolabe in memory of La Pérouse, embarked in her a crew of twenty-four men. Anchor was weighed on the 25th April, and the mountains of Toulon with the coast of France were soon out of sight.

After touching at Gibraltar, the Astrolabe stopped at Teneriffe to take in fresh provisions before crossing the Atlantic, and D'Urville took advantage of this delay to ascend the peak, accompanied by Messrs. Quoy, Gaimard, and several officers, a bad road, very arduous for pedestrians, leading the first part of the way over fields of scoria, though as Laguna is approached the scenery improves. This town, of a considerable size, contains but a small, indolent, and miserable population.

Between Matunza and Orotara the vegetation is magnificent, and the luxuriant foliage of the vine enhances the beauty of the view. Orotara is a small seaboard town, with a port affording but little shelter. It is well-built and laid out, and would be comfortable enough if the streets were not so steep as to make traffic all but impossible. After three-quarters of an hour's climb through well-cultivated fields, the Frenchmen reached the chestnut-tree region, beyond which begin the clouds, taking the form of a thick moist fog, very disagreeable to the traveller. Further on comes the furze region, beyond which the atmosphere again becomes clear, vegetation disappears, the ground becomes poorer and more barren. Here are met with decomposed lava, scoria, and pumice-stones in great abundance, whilst below stretches away the boundless sea of clouds.

Thus far hidden by clouds or by the lofty mountains surrounding it, the peak at last stands forth distinctly, the incline becomes less steep, and those vast plains of intensely melancholy appearance, called Cañadas by the Spanish, on account of their bareness, are crossed. A halt is made for lunch at the Pine grotto before climbing the huge blocks of basalt ranged in a circle about the crater, now filled in with ashes from the peak, and forming its enceinte. The peak itself is next attached, the ascent of which is broken one-third of the way up by a sort of esplanade called the Estancia de los Ingleses. Here our travellers passed the night, not perhaps quite so comfortably as they would have done in their berths, but without suffering too much from the feeling of suffocation experienced by other explorers. The fleas, however, were very troublesome, and their unremitting attacks kept the commander awake all night.

At four a.m. the ascent was resumed, and a second esplanade, called the Alta Vista, was soon reached, beyond which all trace of a path disappears, the rest of the ascent being over rough lava as far as the Chahorra Cone, with here and there, in the shade, patches of unmelted snow. The peak itself is very steep, and its ascent is rendered yet more arduous by the pumice-stone which rolls away beneath the feet.

"At thirty-five minutes past six," says M. Dumont d'Urville, "we arrived at the summit of the Chahorra, which is evidently a half-extinct crater. Its sides are thin and sloping, it is from sixty to eighty feet deep, and the whole surface is strewn with fragments of obsidian, pumice-stones, and lava. Sulphureous vapour, forming a kind of crown of smoke, is emitted from it, whilst the atmosphere at the bottom is perfectly cool. At the summit of the peak the thermometer marked 11°, but in my opinion it was affected by the presence of the fumerolles, for when at the bottom of the crater it fell rapidly from 19° in the sun to 9° 5' in the shade."

The descent was accomplished without accident by another route, enabling our travellers to examine the Cueva de la Nieve, and to visit the forest of Aqua Garcia, watered by a limpid stream, and in which D'Urville made a rich collection of botanical specimens.

In Major Megliorini's rooms at Santa Cruz the commander was shown, together with a number of weapons, shells, animals, fish, &c., a complete mummy of a Guanche, said to be that of a woman. The corpse was sewn up in skins, and seemed to be that of a woman five feet four high, with regular features and large hands. The sepulchral caves of the Guanches also contained earthenware, wooden vases, triangular seals of baked clay, and a great number of small discs of the same material, strung together like chaplets, which may have been used by this extinct race for the same purposes as the "quipos" of the Peruvians.

On the 21st June the Astrolabe once more set sail and touched at La Praya, and at the Cape Verd Islands, where D'Urville had hoped to meet Captain King, who would have been able to give him some valuable hints on the navigation of the coast of New Guinea. King, however, had left La Praya thirty-six hours previously, and the Astrolabe therefore resumed her voyage the next day, i.e. on the 30th June.

On the last day of July the rocks of Martin-Vaz and Trinity Island were sighted, and the latter appearing perfectly barren, a little dried-up grass and a few groups of stunted trees, dotted about amongst the rocks, being the only signs of vegetation.

D'Urville had been very anxious to make some botanical researches on this desert island, but the surf was so rough that he was afraid to risk a boat in it.

On the 4th August the Astrolabe sailed over the spot laid down as "Saxembourg" Island, which ought to be finally erased from French as it has been from English charts; and after a succession of squalls, which tried her sorely, she arrived off St. Paul and Amsterdam Islands, finally anchoring on the 7th October in King George's Sound, on the coast of Australia. In spite of the roughness of the sea, and constant bad weather throughout his voyage of 108 days, D'Urville had carried on all his usual observations on the height of the waves, which he estimated at 80 and occasionally as much as 100 feet, off Needle Bank; the temperature of the sea at various depths, &c.

Captain Jacquinot having found a capital supply of fresh water on the right bank of Princess Royal Harbour, and at a little distance a site suitable for the erection of an observatory, the tents were soon pitched by the sailors, and several officers made a complete tour of the bay, whilst others opened relations with the aborigines, one of whom was induced to go on board, though it was only with the greatest difficulty that he was persuaded to throw away his Banksia, a cone used to retain heat, and to keep the stomach and the front part of the body warm. He remained quietly enough on board for two days, however, eating and drinking in front of the kitchen fire. In the meantime his fellow-countrymen on land were peaceable and well-disposed, even bringing three of their children into the camp.

During this halt a boat arrived manned by eight Englishmen, who asked to be taken on board as passengers, and told such a very improbable story of having been deserted by their captain, that D'Urville suspected them of being escaped convicts; a suspicion which became a conviction, when he saw the wry faces they made at his proposal to send them back to Port Jackson. The next day, however, one took a berth as sailor, and two were received as passengers; whilst the other five decided to remain on land and drag out a miserable existence amongst the natives.

All this time hydrographical and astronomical observations were being made, and the hunters and naturalists were trying to obtain specimens of new varieties of fauna and flora. The delays extending to October 24th enabled the explorers to regain their strength, after their trying voyage, to make the necessary repairs, take in wood and water, draw up a map of the whole neighbourhood, and to collect numerous botanical and zoological specimens. His observations of various kinds made D'Urville wonder that the English had not yet founded a colony on King George's Sound, admirably situated as it is, not only for vessels coming direct from Europe, but for those trading between the Cape and China, or bound for the Sunda Islands, and delayed by the monsoons. The coast was explored as far as West Port, preferred by D'Urville to Port Dalrymple, the latter being a harbour always difficult and often dangerous either to enter or to leave. West Port moreover, was as yet only known from the reports of Baudin and Flinders, and it was therefore better worth exploring than a more frequented district. The observations made in King George's Sound were therefore repeated at West Port, resulting in the following conclusions:—

"It affords," says D'Urville, "an anchorage alike easy to reach and to leave, the bottom is firm, and wood is abundant and easily procurable. In a word, when a good supply of fresh water is found, and that will probably be soon, West Port will rise to a position of great importance in a channel such as Bass's Straits, when the winds often blow strongly from one quarter for several days together, the currents at the same time rendering navigation difficult."

From November 19th to December 2nd the Astrolabe cruised along the coast, touching only at Jervis Bay, remarkable for its magnificent eucalyptus forests.

Eucalyptus forest of Jervis Bay
Eucalyptus forest of Jervis Bay.

The reception given to the French at Port Jackson, by Governor Darling and the colonial authorities, was none the less cordial for the fact that the visits made by D'Urville to various parts of New Holland had greatly amazed the English Government.

During the last three years Port Jackson had increased greatly in size and improved in appearance; though the population of the whole colony only amounted to 50,000, and that in spite of the constant foundation of new English settlements. The commander took advantage of his stay in Sydney to forward his despatches to France, together with several cases of natural history specimens. This done and a fresh stock of provisions having been laid in, he resumed his voyage.

New Guinea hut on piles
New Guinea hut on piles.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

It would be useless to linger with Dumont d'Urville at New South Wales, to the history of which, and its condition in 1826, he devotes a whole volume of his narrative. We have already given a detailed account of it, and it will be better to leave Sydney with our traveller, on the 19th December, and follow him to Tasman Bay, through calms, head-winds, currents, and tempests, which prevented his reaching New Zealand before the 14th January, 1827. Tasman Bay, first seen by Cook on his second voyage, had never yet been explored by any expedition, and on the arrival of the Astrolabe a number of canoes, containing some score of natives, most of them chiefs, approached. These natives were not afraid to climb on board, some remaining several days, whilst later arrivals drew up within reach, and a brisk trade was opened. Meanwhile several officers climbed through the thick furze clothing the hills overlooking the bay, and the following is D'Urville's verdict on the desolate scene which met their view.

"Not a bird, not an insect, not even a reptile to be seen, the solemn, melancholy silence is unbroken by the voice of any living creature." From the summit of these hills the commander saw New Bay, that known as Admiralty, which communicates by a current with that in which the Astrolabe was anchored; and he was anxious to explore it, as it seemed safer than that of Tasman, but the currents several times brought his vessel to the very verge of destruction; and had the Astrolabe been driven upon the rocky coast, the whole crew would have perished, and not so much as a trace of the wreck would have been left. At last, however, D'Urville succeeded in clearing the passage with no further loss than that of a few bits of the ship's keel.

"To celebrate," says the narrative, "the memory of the passage of the Astrolabe, I conferred upon this dangerous strait the name of the 'Passe des Français'" (French Pass), "but, unless in a case of great necessity, I should not advise any one else to attempt it. We could now look calmly at the beautiful basin in which we found ourselves; and which certainly deserves all the praise given to it by Cook. I would specially recommend a fine little harbour, some miles to the south of the place, where the captain cast anchor. Our navigation of the 'Passe des Français' had definitively settled the insular character of the whole of the district terminating in the 'Cape Stephens' of Cook. It is divided from the mainland of Te-Wahi-Punamub by the Current Basin. The comparison of our chart with that of the strait as laid down by Cook will suffice to show how much he left to be done."

The Astrolabe soon entered Cook's Strait, and sailing outside Queen Charlotte's Bay, doubled Cape Palliser, a headland formed of some low hills. D'Urville was greatly surprised to find that a good many inaccuracies had crept into the work of the great English navigator, and in that part of the account of his voyage which relates to hydrography, he quotes instances of errors of a fourth, or even third of a degree.

The commander then resolved to make a survey of the eastern side of the northern island Ika-Na-Mawi. On this island pigs were to be found, but no "pounamon" the green jade which the New Zealanders use in the manufacture of their most valuable tools; strange to say, however, jade is to be found on the southern island, but there are no pigs.

Two natives of the island, who had expressed a wish to remain on board the corvette, became quite low-spirited as they watched the coast of the district where they lived disappear below the horizon. They then began to repent, but too late, the intrepidity which had prompted them to leave their native shores; for intrepid they justly deserve to be called, seeing that again and again they asked the French sailors if they were not to be eaten, and it took several days of kind treatment to dispel this fear from their minds.

New Zealanders
New Zealanders.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

D'Urville continued to sail northward up the coast until the capes, named by Cook Turn-again and Kidnappers, had been doubled, and Sterile Island with its "Ipah" came in sight. In the Bay of Tolaga, as Cook called it, the natives brought alongside the corvette pigs and potatoes, which they readily exchanged for articles of little value. On other canoes approaching, the New Zealanders who were on board the vessel urged the commander to fire upon and kill their fellow-countrymen in the boats; but as soon as the latter climbed up to the deck, the first arrivals advanced to greet them with earnest assurances of friendship. Conduct so strangely inconsistent is the outcome of the compound of hatred and jealousy mutually entertained for each other by these tribes. "They all desire to appropriate to themselves exclusively whatever advantage may be obtained from the visits of foreigners, and they are distressed at the prospect of their neighbours getting any share." Proof was soon afforded that this explanation is the right key to their behaviour.

Upon the Astrolabe were several New Zealanders, but among them was a certain "Shaki" who was recognized as a chief by his tall stature, his elaborate tattooing, and the respectful manner in which he was addressed by his fellow-islanders. Seeing a canoe manned by not more than seven or eight men approaching the corvette, this "Shaki" and the rest came to entreat D'Urville most earnestly to kill the new arrivals, going so far as to ask for muskets that they might themselves fire upon them. However, no sooner had the last comers arrived on board than all those who were there already overwhelmed them with courtesies, while the "Shaki" himself, although he had been one of the most sanguinary, completely changed his tone and made them a present of some axes he had just obtained. After the chief men of a warlike and fierce appearance, with faces tattooed all over, had been a few minutes on board, D'Urville was preparing to ask them some questions, with the aid of a vocabulary published by the missionaries, when all at once they turned away from him, leaped into their canoes and pushed out into the open sea. This sudden move was brought about by their countrymen, who, for the purpose of getting rid of them, slily hinted that their lives were in danger, as the Frenchmen had formed a plot to kill them.

It was in the Bay of Tolaga, the right name of which is Houa-Houa, that D'Urville found the first opportunity of gaining some information about the "kiwi," by means of a mat decorated with the feathers of that bird, such mats being articles of luxury among these islanders. The "kiwi" is about the size of a small turkey, and, like the ostrich, has not the power of flying. It is hunted at night by the light of torches and with the assistance of dogs. It is this bird which is also known under the name of the "apteryx." What the natives told D'Urville about it was in the main accurate. The apteryx, with the tail of a fowl and a plumage of a reddish-brown, has an affinity to the ostrich; it inhabits damp and gloomy woods, and never comes out even in search of food except in the evening. The incessant hunting of the natives has considerably diminished the numbers of this curious species, and it is now very rare.

D'Urville made no pause in the hydrographical survey of the northern island of New Zealand, keeping up daily communication with the natives, who brought him supplies of pigs and potatoes. According to their own statements, the tribes were perpetually at war with one another, and this was the true cause of the decrease in the population of these islands. Their constant demand was for fire-arms; failing to obtain these, they were satisfied if they could get powder in exchange for their own commodities.

On the 10th February, when not far from Cape Runaway, the corvette was caught in a violent storm, which lasted for thirty-six hours, and she was more than once on the point of foundering. After this, she made her way into the Bay of Plenty, at the bottom of which rises Mount Edgecumbe; then keeping along the coast, the islands of Haute and Major were sighted; but during this exploration of the bay, the weather was so severe that the chart of it then laid down cannot be considered very trustworthy. After leaving this bay, the corvette reached the Bay of Mercury; surveyed Barrier Island, entered Shouraki or Hauraki Bay, identified the Hen and Chickens and the Poor Knights Islands, finally arriving at the Bay of Islands. The native tribes met with by D'Urville in this part of the island were busy with an expedition against those of Shouraki and Waikato Bays. For the purpose of exploring the former bay, which had been imperfectly surveyed by Cook, D'Urville sailed back to it, and discovered that that part of New Zealand is indented with a number of harbours and gulfs of great depth, each one being safer, if possible, than the other. Having been informed that by following the direction of the Wai Magoia, a place would be reached distant only a very short journey from the large port of Manukau, he despatched some of his officers by that route, and they verified the correctness of the information he had received. This discovery, observes Dumont d'Urville, may become of great value to future settlements of Shouraki Bay; and this value will be still farther increased should the new surveys prove that the port of Manukau is accessible to vessels of a certain size, for such a settlement would command two seas, one on the east and the other on the west.

One of the "Rangatiras," as the chiefs of that quarter of the island are called, Rangui by name, had again and again begged the commander to give him some lead to make bullets with; a request which was always refused. Just before setting sail, D'Urville was informed that the deep-sea lead had been carried off; and he at once reproached Rangui in severe terms, telling him that such petty larcenies were unworthy of a man in a respectable position. The chief appeared to be deeply moved by the reproach, and excused himself by saying that he had no knowledge of the theft, which must have been committed by some stranger. "A short time afterwards," the narrative goes on to say, "my attention was drawn to the side of the ship by the sound of blows given with great force, and piteous cries proceeding from the canoe of Rangui. There I saw Rangui and Tawiti striking blow after blow with their paddles upon an object resembling the figure of a man covered with a cloak. It was easy to perceive that the two wily chiefs were simply beating one of the benches of the canoe. After this farce had been played for some little time, Rangui's paddle broke in his hands. The sham man was made to appear to fall down, when Rangui, addressing me, said that he had just killed the thief, and wished to know whether that would satisfy me. I assured him that it would, laughing to myself at the artifice of these savages; an artifice, for that matter, such as is often to be met with among people more advanced in civilization."

D'Urville next surveyed the lovely island of Wai-hiki, and thus terminated the survey of the Astrolabe Channel and Hauraki Bay. He then resumed his voyage in a northerly direction towards the Bay of Islands, sailing as far as Cape Maria Van Diemen, the most northerly point of New Zealand, where, say the Waïdonas, "the souls of the departed gather from all parts of Ika-Na-Mawi, to take their final flight to the realms of light or to those of eternal darkness."

The Bay of Islands, at the time when the Coquille put in there, was alive with a pretty considerable population, with whom the visitors soon became on friendly terms. Now, however, the animation of former days had given place to the silence of desolation. The Ipah, or rather the Pah of Kahou Wera, once the abode of an energetic tribe, was deserted, war had done its customary destructive work in the place. The Songhui tribe had stolen the possessions, and dispersed the members of the tribe of Paroa.

The Bay of Islands was the place chosen for their field of effort by the English missionaries, who, notwithstanding their devotion to their work had not made any progress among the natives. The unproductiveness of their labours was only too apparent.

The survey of the eastern side of New Zealand, a hydrographical work of the utmost importance, terminated at this point. Since the days of Cook no exploration of anything like such a vast extent of the coast of this country had been conducted in so careful a manner, in the face of so many perils. The sciences of geography and navigation were both signally benefited by the skilful and detailed work of D'Urville, who had to give proof of exceptional qualities in the midst of sudden and terrible dangers. However, on his return to France, no notice was taken of the hardships he had undergone, or the devotion to duty he had shown; he was left without recognition, and duties were assigned to him, the performance of which could bring no distinction, for they could have been equally well discharged by any ordinary ship's captain.

Leaving New Zealand on the 18th of March, 1827, D'Urville steered for Tonga Tabou, identified to begin with the islands Curtis, Macaulay, and Sunday; endeavoured, but without success, to find the island of Vasquez de Mauzelle, and arrived off Namouka on the 16th of April. Two days later he made out Eoa; but before reaching Tonga Tabou he encountered a terrible storm which all but proved fatal to the Astrolabe. At Tonga Tabou he found some Europeans, who had been for many years settled on the island; from them he received much help in getting to understand the character of the natives. The government was in the hands of three chiefs, calledEquis, who had shared all authority between them since the banishment of the Tonï Tonga, or spiritual chief, who had enjoyed immense influence. A Wesleyan mission was in existence at Tonga; but it could be seen at a glance that the Methodist clergy had not succeeded in acquiring any influence over the natives. Such converts as had been made were held in general contempt for their apostasy.

When the Astrolabe had reached the anchorage, after her fortunate escape from the perils from contrary winds, currents, and rocks, which had beset her course, she was at once positively overwhelmed with the offer of an incredible quantity of stores, fruits, vegetables, fowls, and pigs, which the natives were ready to dispose of for next to nothing. For equally low prices D'Urville was able to purchase, for the museum, specimens of the arms and native productions of the savages. Amongst them were some clubs, most of them made of casuarina wood, skilfully carved, or embossed in an artistic manner with mother-of-pearl or with whalebone. The custom of amputating a joint or two of the fingers or toes, to propitiate the Deity, was still observed, in the case of a near relative being dangerously ill.

From the 28th of April the natives had manifested none but the most friendly feelings; no single disturbance had occurred; but on the 9th of May, while D'Urville, with almost all his officers, went to pay a visit to one of the leading chiefs, named Palou, the reception accorded to them was marked by a most unusual reserve, altogether inconsistent with the noisy and enthusiastic demonstrations of the preceding days. The distrust evinced by the islanders aroused that of D'Urville, who, remembering how few were the men left on board the Astrolabe, felt considerable uneasiness. However, nothing unusual happened during his absence from the ship. But it was only the cowardice of Palou which had caused the failure of a conspiracy, aiming at nothing less than the massacre, at one blow, of the whole of the staff, after which there would have been no difficulty in prevailing over the crew, who were already more than half-disposed to adopt the easy mode of life of the islanders. Such at least was the conclusion the commander came to, and subsequent events showed that he was right.

These apprehensions determined D'Urville to leave Tonga Tabou as quickly as possible, and on the 13th every preparation was made to set sail on the following day. The apprentice Dudemaine was walking about on the large island, whilst the apprentice Faraquet, with nine men, was engaged on the small island, Pangaï Modou, in getting fresh water, or studying the tide, when Tahofa, one of the chiefs, with several other islanders, then on board the Astrolabe, gave a signal. The canoes pushed off at once and made for the shore. On trying to discover the cause of this sudden retreat, it was observed that the sailors on the island Pangaï Modou were being forcibly dragged off by the natives. D'Urville was about to fire off a cannon, when he decided that it would be safer to send a boat to shore. This boat took off the two sailors and the apprentice Dudemaine, but was fired upon when despatched shortly afterwards to set fire to the huts, and to try to capture some natives as hostages. One native was killed and several others were wounded, whilst a corporal of the marines received such severe bayonet wounds, that he died two hours later.

Attack from the natives of Tonga Tabou
Attack from the natives of Tonga Tabou.

D'Urville's anxiety about the fate of his sailors, and of Faraquet, who was in command of them, knew no bounds. Nothing was left for him to do but to make an attack upon the sacred village of Mafanga, containing the tombs of several of the principal families. But on the following day a crowd of natives so skilfully surrounded the place with embankments and palisades, that it was impossible to hope to carry it by an attack. The corvette then drew nearer to the shore, and began to cannonade the village, without, however, doing any other damage than killing one of the natives. At length the difficulty of obtaining provisions, the rain, and the continual alarm in which the firing of the Frenchmen kept them, induced the islanders to offer terms of peace. They gave up the sailors, who had all been very well treated, made a present of pigs and bananas; and on the 24th of May the Astrolabe took her final departure from the Friendly Islands.

It was quite time indeed that this was done, for D'Urville's situation was untenable, and in a conversation with his boatswain he ascertained that not more than half a dozen of the sailors could be relied on; all the others were ready to go over to the side of the savages.

Tonga Tabou is of madreporic formation, with a thick covering of vegetable soil, favourable to an abundant growth of shrubs and trees. The cocoa-tree, the stem of which is slenderer than elsewhere, and the banana-tree here shoot up with wonderful rapidity and vigour. The aspect of the land is flat and monotonous, so that a journey of one or two miles will give as fair an impression of the country as a complete tour of the island. The number of the population who have the true Polynesian cast of countenance may be put down at about 7000. D'Urville says "they combine the most opposite qualities. They are generous, courteous, and hospitable, yet avaricious, insolent, and always thoroughly insincere. The most profuse demonstration of kindness and friendship may at any moment be interrupted by an act of outrage or robbery, should their cupidity or their self-respect be ever so slightly roused."

In intelligence the natives of Tonga are clearly far superior to those of Otaheite. The French travellers could not sufficiently admire the astonishing order in which the plantations of yams and bananas were kept, the excessive neatness of their dwellings, and the beauty of the garden-plots. They even knew something of the art of fortification, as D'Urville ascertained by an inspection of the fortified village of Hifo, defended with stout palisades, and surrounded by a trench between fifteen and twenty feet wide, and half filled with water.

On the 25th of May, D'Urville began the exploration of the Viti or Fiji Archipelago. At the outset he was so fortunate as to fall in with a native of Tonga who was living on the Fiji Islands for purposes of trade, and had previously visited Otaheite, New Zealand, and Australia. This man, as well as a Guam islander, proved most useful to the commander in furnishing him with the names of more than 200 islands belonging to this group, and in acquainting him beforehand with their position, and that of the reefs in their neighbourhood. At the same time, Gressier, the hydrographer, collected all the materials requisite for preparing a chart of the Fiji Islands.

At this station a sloop was put under orders to proceed to the island of Laguemba, where was an anchor which D'Urville would have been well pleased to obtain, as he had lost two of his own while at Tonga. On arrival at the island, Lottin, who was in command of the sloop, observed on the shore none but women and children; armed men, however, soon came running up, made the women leave the place, and were preparing to seize the sloop and make the sailors prisoners. Their intentions were too plain to leave room for any doubt on the subject, so Lottin at once gave orders to draw up the grapnel, and got away into the open sea before there was time for an encounter to take place.

During eighteen consecutive days, in the face of bad weather and a rough sea, the Astrolabe cruised through the Fiji Archipelago, surveyed the islands of Laguemba, Kandabou, Viti-Levou, Oumbenga Vatou Lele, Ounong Lebou, Malolo, and many others, giving special attention to the southern islands of the group, which up to that period had remained almost entirely unknown.

The population of this group, if we accept D'Urville's account, form a kind of transition between the copper-coloured, or the Polynesian, and the black or Melanesian races. Their strength and vigour are in proportion to their tall figures, and they make no secret of their cannibal propensities.

On the 11th of June the corvette set sail for the harbour of Carteret; surveyed one by one the islands of Erronan and Annatom, the Loyalty Islands, of which group D'Urville discovered the Chabrol and Halgan Islands, the little group of the Beaupie Islands, the Astrolabe reefs, all the more dangerous as they are thirty miles distant from the Beaupie Islands, and sixty from New Caledonia. The island of Huon, and the chain of reefs to the north of New Caledonia, were subsequently surveyed. From this point D'Urville reached the Louisiade Archipelago in six days, but the stormy weather there encountered determined him to abandon the course he had planned out, and not to pass through Torres Straits. He thought that an early examination of the southern coast of New Britain, and of the northern coast of New Guinea, would be the most conducive to the interests of science.

Rossel Island and Cape Deliverance were next sighted; and the vessel was steered for New Ireland, with a view to obtaining fresh supplies of wood and water. Arriving there on the 5th of July in such gloomy, rainy weather, that it was with no small difficulty that the entrance of the harbour of Carteret, where D'Entrecasteaux made a stay of eight days, was made out; whilst there the travellers received several visits from the score of natives, who seem to make up the total population of the place. They were creatures possessed of scarcely any intelligence, and quite destitute of curiosity about objects that they had not seen before. Neither did their appearance lead to the slightest prepossession in their favour. They wore no vestige of clothing; their skin was black and their hair woolly; and the partition of the nostrils had a sharp bone thrust through by way of ornament. The only object that they showed any eagerness to possess was iron, but they could not be made to understand that it was only to be given in exchange for fruits or pigs. Their expression was one of sullen defiance, and they refused to guide any one whatever to their village. During the unprofitable stay of the corvette in this harbour, D'Urville had a serious attack of enteritis, from which he suffered much for several days.

On the 19th July the Astrolabe went to sea again and coasted the northern side of New Britain, the object of this cruise was frustrated by rainy and hazy weather. Continual squalls and heavy showers compelled the vessel to put off again as soon as it had succeeded in nearing the land. His experience on this coast D'Urville thus describes:—"One who has not had, as we have, a practical acquaintance with these seas, is unable to form any adequate conception of these incredible rains. Moreover, to obtain a just estimate of the cares and anxieties which a voyage like ours entails, there must be a liability to the call of duties similar to those which we had to discharge. It was very seldom that our horizon lay much beyond the distance of 200 yards, and our observations could not possibly be other than uncertain, when our own true position was doubtful. Altogether, the whole of our work upon New Britain, in spite of the unheard of hardships that fell to our lot and the risks which theAstrolabe had to run, cannot be put in comparison for a moment, as respects accuracy, with the other surveys of the expedition."

As it was impracticable to fall back upon the route by the St. George's Channel, D'Urville had to pass through Dampier's Strait, the southern entrance to which is all but entirely closed by a chain of reefs, which were grazed more than once by the Astrolabe.

The charming prospect of the western coast of New Britain excited intense admiration both in Dampier and D'Entrecasteaux; an enthusiasm fully shared by D'Urville. A safe roadstead enclosed by land forming a semicircle, forests whose dark foliage contrasted with the golden colour of the ripening fields, the whole surmounted by the lofty peaks of Mount Gloucester, and this variety still further enhanced by the undulating outlines of Rook Island, are the chief features of the picture here presented by the coast of New Britain.

Lofty mountains clothed with dense and gloomy forests
Lofty mountains clothed with dense and gloomy forests.

On issuing from the strait the mountains of New Guinea rose grandly in the distance; and on a nearer approach they were seen to form a sort of half-circle shutting in the arm of the sea known as the Bay of Astrolabe. The Schouten Islands, the Creek of the Attack (the place where D'Urville had to withstand an onset of savages), Humboldt Bay, Geelwinck Bay, the Traitor Islands, Tobie and Mysory, the Arfak Mountains, were one after another recognized and passed, when the Astrolabe at length came to an anchor in Port Dorei, in order to connect her operations with those accomplished by the Coquille.

Friendly intercourse was at once established with the Papuans of that place, who brought on board a number of birds of paradise, but not much in the shape of provisions. These natives, are of so gentle and timid a disposition, that only with great reluctance will they risk going into the woods through fear of the Arfakis, who dwell on the mountains, and are their sworn enemies.

One of the sailors engaged in getting fresh water was wounded with an arrow shot by one of these savages, whom it was impossible to punish for a dastardly outrage prompted by no motive whatever.

The land here is everywhere so fertile that it requires no more than turning over and weeding, in order to yield the most abundant harvests; yet the Papuans are so lazy and understand so little of the art of agriculture, that the growth of food plants is often allowed to be choked with weeds. The inhabitants belong to several races. D'Urville divides them into three principal varieties: the Papuans, a mixed breed, belonging more or less to the Malay or Polynesian race; and the Harfous or Alfourous, who resemble the common type of Australians; New Caledonians and the ordinary black Oceanic populations. These latter would appear to be the true indigenous people of the country.

On the 6th September the Astrolabe again put to sea, and after an uninteresting stay at New Guinea, in the course of which scarcely any specimens of natural history were obtained, except a few mollusca, and still less exact information regarding the customs, religion, or language of its diversified population, steered for Amboyna, which was reached without any accident on the 24th September. The governor, M. Merkus, happened to be on circuit; but his absence was no obstacle to the supply of all the stores needed by the commander. The reception given by the authorities and the society of the place was of a very cordial kind, and everything was done to compensate the French explorers for the hardships undergone in their long and troublesome voyage.

From Amboyna D'Urville proceeded to Hobart Town in Tasmania, a place not visited by any French vessel since the time of Baudin, arriving on the 27th December, 1827. Thirty-five years previously D'Entrecasteaux had met on the shores of this island only a few wretched savages; and ten years later Baudin found it quite deserted. The first piece of news that Dumont d'Urville learnt on entering the river Derwent, before even casting anchor at Hobart Town, was that Captain Dillon, an Englishman, had received certain information, when at Tucopia, of the shipwreck of La Pérouse at Vanikoro; and that he had brought away the hilt of a sword which he believed to have belonged to that navigator. On his arrival at Calcutta Dillon communicated his information to the governor, who without delay despatched him with instructions to rescue such of the shipwrecked crew as might still be alive, and collect whatever relics could be found of the vessels. To D'Urville this intelligence was of the highest interest, seeing that he had been specially instructed to search for whatever might be calculated to throw any light upon the fate of the unfortunate navigator, and he had while at Namouka obtained proof of the residence for a time of La Pérouse at the Friendly Islands.

In the English colony itself there was some difference of opinion as to the credit which Captain Dillon's story was entitled to receive; but the report which that officer had made to the Governor-General of India, quite removed any doubt from the mind of D'Urville. Abandoning, therefore, all further plans with reference to New Zealand, he decided upon proceeding at once in the Astrolabe, in the track of Dillon, to Vanikoro, which he then knew only by the name of Mallicolo.

Natives of Vanikoro
Natives of Vanikoro.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

The following is the statement of the circumstances as made by Dillon.

During a stay made by the ship Hunter at the Fiji Islands, three persons, a Prussian named Martin Bushart, his wife, and a Lascar, called Achowlia, were received on board, endeavouring to escape from the horrible fate awaiting them, which had already befallen the other European deserters settled in that archipelago, that of being devoured by the savages; this unhappy trio merely begged to be put on shore at the first inhabited island which the Hunter might touch at. Accordingly, they were left on one of the Charlotte Islands, Tucopia, in 12° 15' S. lat, and 169° W. long. In the month of May, 1836, Dillon, who had been one of the crew of the ship Hunter, paid a visit to the island of Tucopia, with a view of ascertaining what had become of the people put on shore in 1813. There he found the Lascar and the Prussian; the former of whom sold him a silver sword-hilt. As might have been expected, Dillon was curious to know how the natives of that island had come into possession of such an article. The Prussian then related that on his arrival at Tucopia he had found many articles of iron, such as bolts, axes, knives, spoons, and other things, which he was told had come from Mallicolo, a group of islands situated about two days canoe sail to the east of Tucopia. By further interrogatories, Dillon learnt that two vessels had been thrown upon the coasts many years previously, one of which had perished entirely with all on board, whilst the crew of the second had constructed out of the wreck of their ship a little boat, in which they had put to sea, leaving some of their number at Mallicolo. The Lascar said he had seen two of these men, who had acquired a well-merited influence through services rendered to chiefs.

Dillon tried in vain to persuade his informant to take him to Mallicolo, but was more successful with the Prussian, who took him within sight of the island, called Research by D'Entrecasteaux, on which, however, Dillon was unable to land on account of the dead calm and his want of provisions.

On hearing his account, on his arrival at Pondicherry, the governor entrusted him with the command of a boat specially constructed for exploring purposes. This was in 1827. Dillon now touched at Tucopia, where he obtained interpreters and a pilot, and thence went to Mallicolo, where he learnt from the natives that the strangers had stayed there five months to build their vessel, and that they had been looked upon as supernatural visitors, an idea not a little confirmed by their singular behaviour. They had been seen, for instance, to talk to the moon and stars through a long stick, their noses were immense, and some of them always remained standing, holding bars of iron in their hands. Such was the impression left on the minds of the natives by the astronomical observations, cocked hats, and sentinels of the French.

Dillon obtained from the natives a good many relics of the expedition, and he also saw at the bottom of the sea, on the coral reef on which the vessel had struck, some bronze cannons, a bell, and all kinds of rubbish, which he reverently collected and carried to Paris, arriving there in 1828, and receiving from the king a pension of 4000 francs as a reward for his exertions. All doubt was dispelled when the Comte de Lesseps, who had landed at Kamtchatka from La Pérouse's party, identified the cannons and the carved stern of the Boussole, and the armorial bearings of Colignon, the botanist, were made out on a silver candlestick. All these interesting and curious facts, however, D'Urville did not know until later; at present he had only heard Dillon's first report. By chance, or perhaps because he was afraid of being forestalled, the captain had not laid down the position of Vanikoro or the route he followed on the way from Tucopia, which island D'Urville supposed to belong to the Banks or Santa Cruz group, each as little known as the other.

Before following D'Urville, however, we must pause with him for awhile at Hobart Town, which he looked upon even then as a place of remarkable importance. "Its houses," he says, "are very spacious, consisting only of one story and the ground-floor, though their cleanness and regularity give them a very pleasant appearance. Walking in the streets, which are unpaved, though some have curb stones, is very tiring; and the dust always rising in clouds is very trying to the eyes. The Government house is pleasantly situated on the shores of the bay, and will be greatly improved in a few years if the young trees planted about it thrive. Native timber is quite unsuitable for ornamental purposes."

The stay at Hobart Town was turned to account to complete the stock of provisions, anchors, and other very requisite articles, and also to repair the vessel and the rigging, the latter being sorely dilapidated.

On the 5th January the Astrolabe once more put to sea, surveyed Norfolk Island on the 20th, Matthew Volcano six days later, Erronan on the 28th, and the little Mitre Island on the 8th February, arriving the next day off Tucopia, a small island three or four miles in circumference with one rather pointed peak covered with vegetation. The eastern side of Tucopia is apparently inaccessible from the violence of the breakers continually dashing on to its beach. The eagerness of all was now great, and was becoming unbounded when three boats, one containing a European, were seen approaching. This European turned out to be the Prussian calling himself Bushart, who had lately gone with Dillon to Mallicolo, where the latter remained a whole month, and where he really obtained the relics of the expedition as D'Urville had heard at Hobart Town. Not a single Frenchman now remained on the island; the last had died the previous year. Bushart at first consented, but declined at the last moment, to go with D'Urville or to remain on the Astrolabe.

Vanikoro is surrounded by reefs, through which, not without danger, the Astrolabe found a passage, casting anchor in the same place as Dillon had done, namely in Ocili Bay. The scene of the shipwreck was on the other side of the bay. It was not easy to get information from the natives, who were avaricious, untrustworthy, insolent, and deceitful. An old man, however, was finally induced to confess that the whites who had landed on the beach at Vanon had been received with a shower of arrows, and that a fight ensued in which a good many natives had fallen; as for the maras (sailors) they had all been killed, and their skulls buried at Vanon. The rest of the bones had been used to tip the arrows of the natives.

A canoe was now sent to the village of Nama, and after considerable hesitation the natives were induced by a promise of some red cloth to take the Frenchmen to the scene of the shipwreck about a mile off, near Païon and opposite Ambi, where amongst the breakers at the bottom of a sort of shelving beach anchors, cannons, and cannonballs, and many other things were made out, leaving no doubt as to the facts in the minds of the officers of the Astrolabe. It was evident to all that the vessel had endeavoured to get inside the reefs by a kind of pass, and that she had run aground and been unable to get off. The crew may then have saved themselves at Païon, and according to the account of some natives they built a little boat there, whilst the other vessel, which had struck on the reef further out, had been lost with all on board.

Chief Moembe had heard it said that the inhabitants of Vanon had approached the vessel to pillage it, but had been driven back by the whites, losing twenty men and three chiefs. The savages in their turn had massacred all the French who landed, except two, who lived on the island for the space of three months.

Another chief, Valiko by name, said that one of the boats had struck outside the reef opposite Tanema after a very windy night, and that nearly all its crew had perished before they could land. Many of the sailors of the second vessel had got to land, and built at Païon a little boat out of the pieces of the large ship wrecked. During their stay at Païon quarrels arose, and two sailors with five natives of Vanon and one from Tanema were killed. At the end of five months the Frenchmen left the island.

Lastly, a third old man told how some thirty sailors belonging to the first vessel had joined the crew of the second, and that they had all left at the end of six or seven months. All these facts, which had so to speak to be extracted by force, varied in their details; the last, however, seemed most nearly to approach the truth. Amongst the objects picked up by the Astrolabe were an anchor weighing about 1800 pounds, a cast-iron cannon, a bronze swivel, a copper blunderbuss, some pig lead, and several other considerably damaged articles of little interest. These relics, with those collected by Dillon, are now in the Naval Museum at the Louvre.

D'Urville did not leave Vanikoro without erecting a monument to the memory of his unfortunate fellow-countrymen. This humble memorial was placed in a mangrove grove off the reef itself. It consists of a quadrangular prism, made of coral slabs six feet high, surmounted by a pyramid of Koudi wood of the same height, bearing on a little plate of lead the following inscription,—

To the memory of La Pérouse

As soon as this task was accomplished, D'Urville prepared to set sail again, as it was time he did, for the damp resulting from the torrents of rain had engendered serious fevers, prostrating no less than twenty-five of the party. The commander would have to make haste if he wished to keep a crew fit to execute the arduous manoeuvres necessary to the exit of the vessel from a narrow pass strewn with rocks.

The last day passed by the Astrolabe at Vanikoro would have shown the truth to D'Urville had he needed any enlightening as to the true disposition of the natives. The following is his account of the last incidents of this dangerous halt.

"At eight o'clock, I was a good deal surprised to see half a dozen canoes approaching from Tevaï, the more so, that two or three natives from Manevaï who were on board showed no uneasiness, although they had told me a few days before that the people of Tevaï were their mortal enemies. I expressed my surprise to the Manevaians, who merely said, with an evident air of equivocation, that they had made their peace with the Tevaians, who were only bringing some cocoa-nuts. I soon saw, however, that the new comers were carrying nothing but bows and arrows in first rate condition. Two or three of them climbed on board, and in a determined manner came up to the main watch to look down into the orlop-deck to find out how many men were disabled, whilst a malignant joy lit up their diabolical features. At this moment some of the crew told me that two or three of the Manevaï men on board had done the same thing during the last three or four days, and M. Gressien, who had been watching their movements since the morning, thought he had seen the warriors of the two tribes meet on the beach and have a long conference together. Such behaviour gave proof of the most treacherous intentions, and I felt the danger to be imminent. I at once ordered the natives to leave the vessel and return to the canoes, but they had the audacity to look at me with a proud and threatening expression, as if to defy me to put my order into execution. I merely had the armoury, generally kept jealously closed, opened, and with a severe look I pointed to it with one hand, whilst with the other I motioned the savages to the canoes. The sudden apparition of twenty shining muskets, the powers of which they understood, made them tremble, and relieved us of their ominous presence."

I merely had the armoury opened
"I merely had the armoury opened."

Before leaving the scene of this melancholy story, we will glean a few details from D'Urville's account of it. The Vanikoro, Mallicolo, or, as Dillon calls it, the La Pérouse group, consists of two islands, Research and Tevaï. The former is no less than thirty miles in circumference, whilst the latter is only nine miles round. Both are lofty, clothed with impenetrable forests almost to the beach, and surrounded by a barrier of reefs thirty-six miles in circumference, with here and there a narrow strait between them. The inhabitants, who are lazy, slovenly, stupid, fierce, cowardly, and avaricious, do not exceed twelve or fifteen hundred in number. It was unfortunate for La Pérouse to be shipwrecked amongst such people, when he would have received a reception so different on any other island of Polynesia. The women are naturally ugly, and the hard work they have to do, with their general mode of life, render their appearance yet more displeasing. The men are rather less ill-favoured, though they are stunted and lean, and covered with ulcers and leprosy scars. Arrows and bows are their only weapons, and, according to themselves, the former, with their very fine bone tips, soldered on with extremely tenacious gum, inflict mortal wounds. They therefore value them greatly, and the visitors had great trouble to obtain any.

Reefs off Vanikoro
Reefs off Vanikoro.

On the 17th March the Astrolabe at length issued from amongst the terrible reefs encircling Vanikoro. D'Urville had intended to survey Tamnako, Kennedy, Nitendi, and the Solomon Islands, where he hoped to meet with traces of the survivors from the shipwreck of the Boussole and the Astrolabe. But the melancholy condition of the crew, pulled down as they were by fever, and the illness of most of the officers, with the absence of any safe anchorage in this part of Oceania, decided him to make for Guam, where he thought a little rest might possibly be obtained. This was a very grave dereliction from the instructions which ordered him to survey Torres Straits, but the fact of forty sailors being hors de combat and on the sick-list, will suffice to prove how foolish it would have been to make so perilous an attempt.

Not until the 26th April was Hogoley Archipelago sighted, where D'Urville bridged over the gaps left by Duperrey in his exploration, and only on the 2nd May did the coasts of Guam come in sight. Anchor was cast at Umata, where a supply of fresh water was easily found, and the climate much milder than at Agagna. On the 29th May, however, when the expedition set sail again, the men were not by any means all restored to health, which D'Urville attributed to the excesses in the way of eating indulged in by the sick, and the impossibility of getting them to keep to a suitable diet.

The good Medinilla, of whom Freycinet had such reason to speak favourably, was still governor of Guam. He did not this time, it is true, show so many kind attentions to the present expedition, but that was because a terrible drought had just devastated the colony, and a rumour had got afloat that the illness the crew of the Astrolabe was suffering from was contagious. Umata too was a good distance from Agagna, so that D'Urville could not visit the governor in his own home. Medinilla, however, sent the expedition fresh provisions and fruits in such quantities as to prove he had lost none of his old generosity.

After leaving Guam D'Urville surveyed, under sail, the Elivi, the Uluthii of Lütke, Guapgolo and the Pelew group of the Caroline Archipelago, was driven by contrary winds past Waigiou, Aiou, Asia, and Guebek, and finally entered Bouron Straits and cast anchor off Amboine, where he was cordially received by the Dutch authorities, and obtained news from France to the effect that the Minister of Marine had taken no notice of all the work, fatigue, and perils of the expedition, for not one officer had received advancement.

The receipt of this news caused considerable disappointment and discouragement, which the commander at once tried to remove. From Amboine the Astrolabe steered,viâ Banka Strait, for Uanado, with its well-armed and equipped fort, forming a pleasant residence. Governor Merkus obtained for D'Urville's natural history collections some fine barberosas, a sapioutang—the latter a little animal of the size of a calf, with the same kind of muzzle, paws, and turned-back horns—serpents, birds, fishes, and plants.

According to D'Urville the people of the Celebes resemble in externals the Polynesians rather than the Malays. They reminded him of the natives of Otaheite, Tonga Tabou, and New Zealand, much more than of the Papuans of Darei Harbour, the Harfous of Bouron, or the Malays, with their square bony faces. Near Manado are some mines of auriferous quartz, of which the commander was able to obtain a specimen, and in the interior is the lake of Manado, said to be of immense depth, and which is the source of the torrent of the same name that dashes in the form of a magnificent waterfall over a basalt rock eighty feet high, barring its progress to the sea. D'Urville, accompanied by the governor and the naturalists of the expedition, explored this beautiful lake, shut in by volcanic mountains, with here and there a few fumerolles still issuing from them, and ascertained the depth of the water to be no more than twelve or thirteen fathoms, so that in the event of its ever drying up, its basin would form a perfectly level plain.

On the 4th August anchor was weighed at Manado, where the sufferers from fever and dysentery had not got much better, and on the 29th of the same month the expedition arrived at Batavia where it only remained three days. The rest of the voyage of the Astrolabe was in well-known waters. Mauritius was reached in due course, and there D'Urville met Commander Le Goarant, who had made a trip to Vanikoro in the corvette La Bayonnaise, and who told D'Urville that he had not attempted to enter the reef, but had only sent in some boats to reconnoitre. The natives had respected the monument to the memory of La Pérouse, and had been reluctant even to allow the sailors of the Bayonnaise to nail a copper plate upon it.

On the 18th November the corvette left Mauritius, and after touching at the Cape, St. Helena, and Ascension, arrived on the 25th March, 1829, at Marseilles, exactly thirty-five months after her departure from that port. To hydrographical science, if to nothing else, the results of the expedition were remarkable, and no less than forty-five new charts were produced by the indefatigable Messrs. Gressien and Paris. Nothing will better bring before us the richness of harvest of natural history specimens than the following quotation from Cuvier's report:—

"They (the species brought home by Quoy and Gaimard) amount to thousands in the catalogues, and no better proof can be given of the activity of our naturalists than the fact that the directors of the Jardin du Roi do not know where to store the results of the expedition, especially those now under notice. They have had to be stowed away on the ground-floor, almost in the cellars, and the very warehouses are now so crowded—no other word would do as well—that we have had to divide them by partitions to make more stowage."

The geological collections were no less numerous; one hundred and eighty-seven species or varieties of rock attest the zeal of Messrs. Quoy and Gaimard, while M. Lesson, junior, collected fifteen or sixteen hundred plants; Captain Jacquinot made a number of astronomical observations; M. Lottin studied magnetism, and the commander, without neglecting his duties as a sailor and leader of the expedition, made experiments on submarine temperature and meteorology, and collected an immense mass of information on philology and ethnography.

We cannot better conclude our account of this expedition than with the following quotation from Dumont d'Urville's memoirs, given in his biography by Didot:—

"This adventurous expedition surpassed all previous ones, alike in the number and gravity of the dangers incurred, and the extent of the results of every kind obtained. An iron will prevented me from ever yielding to any obstacle. My mind once made up to die or to succeed, I was free from any hesitation or uncertainty. Twenty times I saw the Astrolabe on the eve of destruction without once losing hope of her salvation. A thousand times did I risk the very lives of my companions in order to achieve the object of my instructions, and I can assert that for two consecutive years we daily incurred more real perils than we should have done in the longest ordinary voyage. My brave and honourable officers were not blind to the dangers to which I daily exposed them, but they kept silence, and nobly fulfilled their duty."

From this admirable harmony of purpose and devotion resulted a mass of discoveries and observations in every branch of human knowledge, of all of which an exact account was given by Rossel, Cuvier, Geoffrey St. Hilaire, Desfontaines, and others, all competent and disinterested judges.