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intervene in the longitude of 120° W. of Greenwich, and from about 50° to 55° of north latitude. Slave Lake lies to the eastward of thefe mountains; and its height may be eafily fuppofed, as it fends off rivers which are loft in the lakes on the fouth, and which fall into Hudfon's Bay on the east, and into the North Sea in lat. 69° 14'. Thus every idea of a paffage in any direction, except fo far to the north as to be impracticable, was deftroyed, before we knew the refult of the voyage of captain Vancouver. Intelligence has been obtained from him, which has clearly established many important facts; and thofe who perhaps might have fufpected that the fource of the information from the Hudson's Bay company, fo long and fo ftudioufly concealed, was in fome degree polluted, will now learn to value it highly.
The expedition, which was commanded by the late captain George Vancouver, was projected before the events, which led to the armament against Spain in 1790, were known in this country; but, when thofe circumftances were known, the fhips, at firft deftined for discovery only, were ordered alfo to take poffeffion of the territory which was to be restored by the Spaniards, in confequence of the convention.
In the Introduction to thefe volumes, there is a concife account of the motives of the voyage, and of the equipment of the veffels. The inftructions follow; and an advertisement is fubjoined by the editor, the brother of the late captain. Though greatly debilitated by his active fervices in the naval department, he ftill laboured, with great affiduity, to retrace his former fteps, in the compofition of thefe volumes; and every part which relates to difcovery is his own work. The fmall additions from his journals, relate to his return from Valparaifo (on the coaft of Chili) to England. His miscellaneous obfervations are either loft, or are in a state too imperfect for publication.
According to the plan ufually purfued in our review of voyages and travels, we fhall pafs haftily over thofe regions which frequent examinations have fufficiently elucidated. In croffing the Atlantic, not many new or interefting obfervations can be expected to occur: the following remarks, however, deferve attention.
Croffing the equator fo far to the weftward' (25°. 15′. W. longitude) has been frequently objected to, as being liable to entangle fhips with the coaft of Brazil. I am, however, of a different opinion, and conceive many advantages are derived by thus croffing the line; fuch as, purfuing a track deftitute of those calms and heavy rains, which are ever attendant on a more eastwardly route. By every information I have been enabled to collect, it does not appear that much is to be gained in point of di
ftance by croffing the equator in a more eaftwardly longitude; fince it feems that veffels which have purfued their foutherly courfe to cross the line under the 10th, 15th, or 20th meridian of weft longitude, have, by the trade wind blowing there in a more foutherly direction, been driven equally as far weft, to the 25th, 26th, and 27th degrees of weft longitude before they have been enabled to gain the variable winds, without the benefit of a conftant breeze and fair weather, which with the very little interruption between the 21ft and 24th, was experienced during this paffage.' Vol i.
Our paffage through the atlantic ocean being thus accomplished, it becomes requifite, in compliance with the method propofed in the introduction for correcting the errors of navigation, to have fome retrospect to this paffage, efpecially fince paffing the Cape de Verd islands.
From the island of St. Antonio, until we had crossed the latitude of cape St. Auguftine, we were materially affected by currents; and between the latitude, of 6° north and the equator, ftrong riplings were confpicuous on the surface of the fea. Thefe currents, contrary to the general opinion, feem to poffefs no regularity, as we found ourselves, day after day, driven in directions very contrary to our expectations from the impulfé we had experienced on the former day, and by no means attended with that periodical uniformity, pointed out by Mr. Nicholson in his lately revifed and corrected Indian Directory, published in the year 1787. On the contrary, inftead of the currents at this season of the year, agreeably to his hypothefis, fetting to the northward, the moft prevailing ftream we experienced fet to the fouth, and more in a fouth eastern than a south western direction. This very able mariner, ftill wedded to formerly adopted opinions, ftrongly recommends the variation of the compass, as a means for afcertaining the longitude at fea: yet, had we been no better provided, we might have fearched for the cape of Good Hope agreeably with his pro→ pofitions, to little effect for when we were in latitude 35° 7' fouth, with 20° 16' weft variation, we had only reached the longitude of 6° 30' east; and again, when in latitude 35° 22' fouth, with 22° 7' west variation, we had only advanced to the longitude of 11° 25′ east, instead of being, according to Mr. Nicholson's hypothefis, in the firft inftance nearly under the meridian of the cape of Good Hope, and in the fecond, under that of cape Aguilas; and it was not until we had near 26° of west variation, that we approached the meridian of the cape of Good Hope. The obfervations for the variation were made with the greatest care and attention; and though generally confidered as very correct, they differed from one to three, and fometimes four degrees, not only when made by different compaffes placed in different fituations on board, and the ship on different tacks, but by the fame compass in the fame
fituation, made at moderate intervals of time; the difference in the refults of fuch obfervations, at the fame time, not preferving the leaft degree of uniformity. Hence the affertion amounts nearly to an abfurdity, which states, "that with 20° to 20° 10′, or 20° 30′ "weftwardly variation, you will be certain" of fuch and fuch longitude; and it is greatly to be apprehended, that navigators who rely on fuch means for afcertaining their fituation in the ocean, will render themselves liable to errors that may be attended with the most fatal confequences.' Vol. i. p. 14.
From the Cape of Good Hope, the voyage was diftinguished only by weather the moft irregular, and ftorms the moft violent. Arriving on the fouth-western coast of New Holland, captain Vancouver afcertained the existence of a fafe and commodious harbour, in lat. 35° 5', and longitude 118° 17. This coaft feems to afford a refting-place to the most miferable race which the refearches of navigators have yet difcovered. The wears of thefe favages for taking fifh, are inartificial, and can procure only a temporary and precarious fupply at high water: the oysters and limpets lie within their fight and reach, apparently without being touched; their habitations refemble the kraal of a Hottentot, divided vertically, and open in front; and their greateft diftinctions do not feein to rife higher, in the fcale of magnificence, than two fuch wicker huts joined together at an acute angle. While they neglect the thell-fish at their hands, it cannot be expected that they would exert themfelves in the labour of cultivation; and their general life must be a fcene of hunger and mifery. They certainly migrate; for no inhabitants, or traces of a recent occupancy of the wretched huts, were found. They had employed fire to clear or manure the ground; and, by the fame means, they hollowed trees for the reception of either the loweft or higheft of their ranks.
Our furvey [of the coast of New Holland] comprehended an extent of 110 leagues, in which space we saw no other haven or place of fecurity for fhipping than the found before. mentioned; notwithstanding the opinion of Dampier, who has confidered the whole of the western part of New Holland as confifting of a clufter of iflands. He was undoubtedly a judicious obferver, of very fuperior talents; and, it is most likely, formed his opinion from the many iflands which he found compofing the exterior coaft of the N. W. part of this extenfive country. However juft may be his conclufions as to that part of New Holland, they certainly do not apply to its south western side, as no very material feparation, either by rivers, or arms of the fea, was difcovered in the neighbourhood of our furvey. Had fuch breaks in the coast existed, and had they efcaped our observation, it is highly probable we should have met in the fea, or feen driven
on its shores, drift wood and other productions of the interior country. The very, deep colour alfo of the several streams of water may poffibly be occafioned by the quality of the foil through which they flow; whence, it may be inferred that, if any confiderable inland waters had their fource far in the country, or if any great body descended from its fhores, the fea along the coaft would in some measure have been discoloured; but neither of these evidences exifted, for, on our approach to the land, there was no previous appearance to indicate its vicinity. This opinion was further corroborated on inspecting the habitations and places of the natives'. refort; where not the leaft remains of canoes, or other circumstance prefented itself, which could convey the most distant idea: of these people having ever trufted themselves on the water; a circumstance which it is reasonable to fuppofe would fometimes have happened, had their country been infulated, or their travelling interrupted by large rivers or arms of the fea; especially as all appearances favored the conjecture of their being, by no theans, a stationary people. There was great reason, however, to conclude, that the country was well fupplied with fresh water; as wherever we chanced to land, we eafily procured that valuable article, not only where the foil was of confiderable depth, but from streamlets iffuing out of the folid rocks. This feemed to be the cafe even on the most elevated land, which caused a very fingular appearance when the fun fhone in certain directions on those mountains whofe furfaces were deftitute of foil; for on these made humid by the continually oozing of the water, a bright glare was produced that gave them the resemblance of hills covered with fnow.' Vol. i.
Perhaps the earlier navigators may not have been altogether in the wrong. Nearly in this fpot we perceive islands laid down in maps of fome authority; and, when we recollect that the fouthern coast of New Holland was difcovered in 1627, we may fuppofe confiderable revolutions to have taken place in the coaft.
The writer afterwards obferves, that
The appearance of this country along the coafts, resembles, in most respects, that of Africa about the cape of Good Hope, The furface feemed to be chiefly compofed of fand mixed with decayed vegetables, varying exceedingly in point of richness; and although bearing a great fimilarity, yet indicating a foil fuperior in quality to that in the immediate neighbourhood of Cape Town. The principal component part of this country appeared to be coral; and it would feem that its elevation above the ocean is of modern date, not only from the fhores, and the bank which extends along the coaft being, generally speaking, compofed of coral, as was evident by our lead never defcending to the bottom without bringing up coral on its return; but by coral being found on the
highest hills we afcended; particularly on the fummit of BaldHead, which is fufficiently above the level of the fea to be feen at 12 or 14 leagues distance. Here the coral was entirely in its original state; particularly in one level fpot, comprehending about eight acres, which produced not the leaft herbage on the white fand that occupied this fpace; through which the branches of coral protruded, and were found ftanding exactly like thofe feen in the beds of coral beneath the furface of the fea, with ramifications of different fizes, fome not half an inch, others four or five inches in circumference. In thefe fields of coral, (if the term field be allowable,) of which there were feveral, fea fhells were in great abundance, fome nearly in a perfect state still adhering to the coral, others in different stages of decay. The coral was friable in various degrees; the extremities of the branches, fome of which were nearly four feet above the fand, were eafily reduced to powder, whilft thofe close to, or under the furface, required fome fmall force to break them from the rocky foundation from whence they appeared to fpring. I have feen coral in many places at a confiderable diftance from the fea; but in no other inftance have I seen it fo elevated, and in such a state of perfection.
In the lower lands we frequently met with extensive tracts occupied by a kind of okerifh fwampy peat, or moorish soil of a very dark brown colour, forming as it were a cruft, which fhook and trembled when walked upon; with water oozing through, or running over the furface, in all directions. Through this foil most of the streams take their courfe, and it is to their impregnation in the paffage, that the general high colour of the water is to be attributed. These fwamps were not always confined to low and level fpots, but were found on the acclivity of the higher lands; and where thefe did not occupy the fides of the hills, the foil was deep, and appeared infinitely more productive than the furface of the plains; efpecially that through which the rivulet in Oyster Harbour has been mentioned to flow. In that plain we found, at irregular intervals, juft beneath the furface, a fubftratum of an apparently imperfect chalk, or a rich white marle, feemingly formed of the fame decayed fhells, with which the courfe of the river abounded. Thefe ftrata, about eight or ten yards broad, run perpendicularly to the rivulet; their depth we had not leifure to examine, although there feemed little doubt of finding this subftance in fufficient abundance for the purposes of manure, fhould the cultivation of this country ever be in contemplation. The general ftructure of it feems very favorable to fuch an attempt, as the mountains are neither fteep nor numerous; nor do the rifing grounds form fuch hills as bid defiance to the plough, while they produce that fort of diverfity which is grateful to the eye, and not unpleasant to the traveller.
This chalky earth was alfo found in the neighbourhood of a moorifh foil; and, on a more minute examination, seemed much