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John Lort Stokes.

Discoveries in Australia, Volume 1. With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By Command of the Lords Comm online

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Online LibraryJohn Lort StokesDiscoveries in Australia, Volume 1. With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By Command of the Lords Comm → online text (page 1 of 33)
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DISCOVERIES IN AUSTRALIA;

WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE

COASTS AND RIVERS

EXPLORED AND SURVEYED DURING THE

VOYAGE OF H.M.S. BEAGLE,

IN THE YEARS 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43.

BY

COMMAND OF THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.

ALSO

A NARRATIVE OF CAPTAIN OWEN STANLEY'S VISITS

TO THE

ISLANDS IN THE ARAFURA SEA.

BY

J. LORT STOKES,

COMMANDER, R.N.


VOLUME 1.


LONDON:
T. AND W. BOONE, 29, NEW BOND STREET.

1846.



TO
CAPTAIN ROBERT FITZROY, R.N.
THE FOLLOWING WORK
IS DEDICATED
AS A TRIBUTE TO HIS DISTINGUISHED MERIT,
AND AS A TOKEN OF HEARTFELT GRATITUDE AND RESPECT,
BY HIS OLD SHIPMATE AND FAITHFUL FRIEND,
THE AUTHOR.



INTRODUCTION.

I cannot allow these volumes to go before the public, without expressing
my thanks to the following gentlemen for assistance, afforded to me in
the course of the composition of this work: To Captain Beaufort, R.N.,
F.R.S., Hydrographer to the Admiralty, for his kindness in furnishing me
with some of the accompanying charts; to Sir John Richardson, F.R.S; J.E.
Gray, Esquire, F.R.S.; E. Doubleday, Esquire, F.L.S., and A. White,
Esquire, M.E.S., for their valuable contributions on Natural History, to
be found in the Appendix; to J. Gould, Esquire, F.R.S., for a list of
birds collected during the voyage of the Beagle; to Lieutenants Gore and
Fitzmaurice, for many of the sketches which illustrate the work; and to
B. Bynoe, Esquire, F.R.C.S., for several interesting papers which will be
found dispersed in the following pages.

Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S., also merits my warmest thanks, for
the important addition to the work of his visits to the Islands in the
Arafura Sea.

I have to explain, that when the name Australasia is used in the
following pages, it is intended to include Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land)
and all the islands in the vicinity of the Australian continent.

All bearings and courses, unless it is specified to the contrary, are
magnetic, according to the variation during the period of the Beagle's
voyage.

The longitudes are generally given from meridians in Australia, as I much
question whether any portion of the continent is accurately determined
with reference to Greenwich. Sydney, Port Essington, and Swan River, have
been the meridians selected; and the respective positions of those
places, within a minute of the truth, I consider to be as follows:

Swan River (Scott's Jetty, Fremantle) 115 degrees 47 minutes East.

Port Essington (Government house) 132 degrees 13 minutes East.

Sydney (Fort Macquarie) 151 degrees 16 minutes East.




CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1.


CHAPTER 1.1. INTRODUCTION.

Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.


CHAPTER 1.2. PLYMOUTH TO BAHIA.

Sail from Plymouth.
The Eight Stones.
Peak of Tenerife.
Approach to Santa Cruz.
La Cueva de Los Guanches.
Trade with Mogadore.
Intercourse between Mogadore and Mombas.
Reason to regret Mombas having been given up.
Sail from Tenerife.
Search for rocks near the equator.
Arrival at San Salvador.
Appearance of Bahia.
State of the Country.
Slave Trade.
And results of Slavery.
Extension of the Slave Trade on the eastern coast of Africa.
Moral condition of the Negroes.
Middy's Grave.
Departure from Bahia.
Mr. "Very Well Dice".


CHAPTER 1.3. FROM THE CAPE TO SWAN RIVER.

A gale.
Anchor in Simon's Bay.
H.M.S. Thalia.
Captain Harris, and his Adventures in Southern Africa.
Proceedings of the Land Party.
Leave Simon's Bay.
An overloaded ship.
Heavy weather and wet decks.
Island of Amsterdam.
Its true longitude.
St. Paul's.
Water.
Westerly variation.
Rottnest Island.
Gage's Road.
Swan River Settlement.
Fremantle.
An inland lake.
Plans for the future.
Illness of Captain Wickham.
Tidal Phenomena.
Perth.
Approach to it.
Narrow escape of the first settlers.
The Darling Range.
Abundant Harvest.
Singular flight of strange birds.
Curious Cliff near Swan River.
Bald Head.
Mr. Darwin's Theory.
The Natives.
Miago.
Anecdotes of Natives.
Their Superstitions.
Barbarous traditions, their uses and their lessons.


CHAPTER 1.4. FROM SWAN RIVER TO ROEBUCK BAY.

Sail from Gage's Road.
Search for a bank.
Currents and soundings.
Houtman's Abrolhos.
Fruitless search for Ritchie's Reef.
Indications of a squall.
Deep sea soundings.
Atmospheric Temperature.
Fish.
A squall.
Anchor off the mouth of Roebuck Bay.
A heavy squall.
Driven from our anchorage.
Cape Villaret.
Anchor in Roebuck Bay.
Excursion on shore.
Visit from the Natives.
Mr. Bynoe's account of them.
A stranger among them.
Captain Grey's account of an almost white race in Australia.
Birds, Snakes, and Turtle.
Move the Ship.
Miago, and the Black Fellows.
The wicked men of the North.
Clouds of Magellan.
Face of the Country.
Natives.
Heat and Sickness.
Miago on shore.
Mr. Usborne wounded.
Failure in Roebuck Bay.
Native notions.


CHAPTER 1.5. FROM ROEBUCK BAY TO SKELETON POINT.

Departure from Roebuck Bay.
Appearance of the Country.
Progress to the northward.
Hills and Cliffs.
French Names and French Navigators.
Tasman, and his account of the Natives.
Hazeygaeys and Assagais.
His Authenticity as an Historian.
Description of the Natives.
Marks and mutilations.
Phrenological Development.
Moral condition.
Proas, Canoes, and Rafts.
Another squall.
Anchor in Beagle Bay.
Face of the Country.
Palm Trees.
Dew.
Hauling the Seine.
A meeting with Natives.
Eastern Salutation.
Miago's conduct towards, and opinion of, his countrymen.
Mutilation of the Hand.
Native smokes seen.
Move further to the North-East.
Point Emeriau.
Cape Leveque.
Point Swan.
Tide-races.
Search for water.
Encountered by Natives.
Return to the Ship.
The attempt renewed.
Conduct of the Natives.
Effect of a Congreve Rocket after dark.
A successful haul.
More Natives.
Miago's Heroism.
The plague of Flies.
Dampier's description of it.
Native Habitations.
Underweigh.
Wind and weather.
Tidal Phenomenon.
Natural History.
Singular Kangaroo.
Bustard.
Cinnamon Kangaroo.
Quails.
Goanas and Lizards.
Ant Hills.
Fishing over the side.
A day in the Bush.
A flood of fire.
Soil and Productions.
White Ibis.
Curious Tree.
Rain water.
Geology of the Cliffs.
Weigh, and graze a Rock, or Touch and go.
The Twins.
Sunday Strait.
Roe's Group.
Miago and his friends.
A black dog.
A day of rest.
Native raft.
Captain King and the Bathurst.
A gale.
Point Cunningham.
Successful search for water.
Native estimation of this fluid.
Discovery of a Skeleton.
And its removal.
The grey Ibis.
Our parting legacy.


CHAPTER 1.6. POINT CUNNINGHAM TO FITZROY RIVER.

Survey the Coast to Point Cunningham.
Move the Ship.
Mosquitoes.
Southern View of King's Sound.
Singular vitreous Formation.
Move to the south of Point Cunningham.
Captain King's limit.
Termination of Cliffy Range.
Disaster Bay.
An Exploring Party leave in the boats.
The shore.
A freshwater lake.
Valentine Island.
Native Fire and Food.
A heavy squall.
The wild Oat.
Indications of a River.
Point Torment.
Gouty-stem Tree and Fruit.
Limits of its growth.
Another squall.
Water nearly fresh alongside.
The Fitzroy River.
Tide Bore and dangerous position of the Yawl.
Ascent of the Fitzroy.
Appearance of the adjacent land.
Return on foot.
Perilous situation and providential escape.
Survey the western shore.
Return to the Ship.
Sporting, Quail and Emus.
Natives.
Ship moved to Point Torment.


CHAPTER 1.7. THE FITZROY RIVER TO PORT GEORGE THE FOURTH, AND RETURN TO
SWAN RIVER.

Examination of the Fitzroy River.
Excursion into the interior.
Alarm of the Natives.
Ascent of the River.
Sufferings from Mosquitoes.
Red Sandstone.
Natives again surprised.
Appearance of the Country.
Impediments in the River.
Return of the boats.
An Alligator.
Stokes' Bay.
Narrow escape of an Officer.
Change of Landscape.
Pheasant-Cuckoos.
A new Vine.
Compass Hill.
Port Usborne.
Explore the eastern shore of King's Sound.
Cone Bay.
Native Fires.
Whirlpool Channel.
Group of Islands.
Sterile aspect of the Coast.
Visited by a Native.
Bathurst Island.
Native Hut and Raft.
Return to Port Usborne.
Native Spears.
Cascade Bay.
Result of Explorations in King's Sound.
Interview with Natives.
Coral Reefs.
Discover Beagle Bank.
Arrival at Port George the Fourth.
Examination of Collier Bay in the boats.
Brecknock Harbour.
The Slate Islands.
Freshwater Cove.
An Eagle shot.
Its singular nest.
Rock Kangaroos.
A Conflagration.
Sandstone Ridges.
Doubtful Bay.
Mouth of the Glenelg.
Remarkable Tree.
Fertile Country near Brecknock Harbour.
Return to the Ship.
Meet with Lieutenant Grey.
His sufferings and discoveries.
Visit the Encampment.
Timor Ponies.
Embarkation of Lieutenant Grey's Party.
Sail from Port George the Fourth.
Remarks on position of Tryal Rock.
Anecdotes of Miago.
Arrival at Swan River.
Directions for entering Owen's Anchorage.


CHAPTER 1.8. SWAN RIVER TO SYDNEY.

Miago's reception by his countrymen.
Whale Fishery.
Strange ideas entertained by Natives respecting the first Settlers.
Neglected state of the Colony.
Test security of Owen's Anchorage.
Weather.
Celebration of the Anniversary of the Colony.
Friendly meeting between different Tribes.
Native beggars.
Personal vanity of a Native.
Visit York.
Description of Country.
Site of York.
Scenery in its neighbourhood.
Disappointment experienced.
Sail from Swan River.
Hospitality of Colonists during our stay.
Aurora Australis.
Gale off Cape Leeuwen.
Stormy passage.
Ship on a lee shore.
South-west Cape of Tasmania.
Bruny Island Lighthouse.
Arrive at Hobart.
Mount Wellington.
Kangaroo Hunt.
White Kangaroo.
Civility from the Governor.
Travertine Limestone.
Leave Hobart.
Singular Current.
Appearance of Land in the neighbourhood of Sydney.
Position of Lighthouse.
Entrance and first view of Port Jackson.
Scenery on passing up the Harbour.
Meet the Expedition bound to Port Essington.
Apparent increase of Sydney.
Cause of Decline.
Expedition sails for Port Essington.
Illawarra.
Botany Bay.
La Perouse's Monument.
Aborigines.
Meet Captain King.
Appearance of Land near Sydney.


CHAPTER 1.9. BASS STRAIT.

Leave Sydney.
Enter Bass Strait.
Island at Eastern entrance.
Wilson's Promontory.
Cape Shanck.
Enter Port Phillip.
Tide-race.
Commence Surveying Operations.
First Settlement.
Escaped Convict.
His residence with the Natives.
Sail for King Island.
Examine Coast to Cape Otway.
King Island.
Meet Sealers on New Year Islands.
Franklin Road.
Solitary Residence of Captain Smith.
Soil.
Advantageous position for a Penal Settlement.
Leafless appearance of Trees.
Examine West Coast.
Fitzmaurice Bay.
Stokes' Point.
Seal Bay.
Geological Formation.
Examine Coast to Sea Elephant Rock.
Brig Rock.
Cross the Strait to Hunter Island.
Strong Tide near Reid's Rocks.
Three Hummock Island.
Rats.
The Black Pyramid.
Point Woolnorth.
Raised Beach.
Coast to Circular Head.
Headquarters of the Agricultural Company.
Capture of a Native.
Mouth of the Tamar River.
Return to Port Phillip.
West Channel.
Yarra-yarra River.
Melbourne.
Custom of Natives.
Manna.
Visit Geelong.
Station Peak.
Aboriginal Names.
South Channel.
Examine Western Port.
Adventure with a Snake.
Black Swans.
Cape Patterson.
Deep Soundings.
Revisit King and Hunter Islands.
Fire.
Circular Head.
Gales of Wind.
Reid's Rocks.
Sea Elephant Rock.
Wild Dogs.
Navarin and Harbinger Reefs.
Arrive at Port Phillip.
Sail for Sydney.
Pigeon House.
Drought.
Mr. Usborne leaves.


CHAPTER 1.10. SYDNEY TO PORT ESSINGTON.

Leave Sydney.
Gale and Current.
Port Stephens.
Tahlee.
River Karuah.
Stroud.
Wild Cattle.
Incivility of a Settler.
River Allyn.
Mr. Boydell.
Cultivation of Tobacco.
A clearing Lease.
William River.
Crossing the Karuah at Night.
Sail from Port Stephens.
Breaksea Spit.
Discover a Bank.
Cape Capricorn.
Northumberland Isles.
Sandalwood.
Cape Upstart.
Discover a River.
Raised Beach.
Section of Barrier Reef.
Natives.
Plants and Animals.
Magnetical Island.
Halifax Bay.
Height of Cordillera.
Fitzroy Island.
Hope Island.
Verifying Captain King's Original Chart.
Cape Bedford.
New Geological Feature.
Lizard Island.
Captain Cook.
Barrier and Reefs within.
Howick Group.
Noble Island.
Cape Melville.
Reef near Cape Flinders.
Princess Charlotte's Bay.
Section of a detached Reef.
Tide at Claremont Isles.
Restoration Island.
Islands fronting Cape Grenville.
Boydan Island.
Correct Chart.
Tides.
Cairncross Island.
Escape River.
Correct position of Reefs.
York Isles.
Tides.
Torres Strait.
Endeavour Strait.
Booby Island.
Remarks on Barrier and its contiguous Islands and Reefs.
Cape Croker and reef off it.
Discover error in longitude of Cape.
Reefs at the mouth of Port Essington.
Arrive at the latter.


CHAPTER 1.11.

Port Essington.
Bearings from shoals in the Harbour.
Appearance of the Settlement.
Meet Captain Stanley.
Church.
Point Record.
Prospects of the Settlement.
Buffaloes escape.
Fence across neck of Peninsula.
Lieutenant P.B. Stewart explores the Country.
Natives.
Uses of Sand.
Tumuli-building Birds.
Beautiful Opossum.
Wild Bees.
Escape from an Alligator.
Result of Astronomical Observations.
Geological Formation.
Raffles Bay.
Leave Port Essington.
Popham Bay.
Detect error in position of Port Essington.
Melville Island.
Discover a Reef in Clarence Strait.
Cape Hotham.
Native Huts and Clothing.
Geological Formation.
Discover the Adelaide River.
Interview with Natives.
Attempt to come on board.
Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Keys nearly speared.
Exploration of the Adelaide.
Its capabilities.
Wood-ducks.
Vampires.
Another party ascends the Adelaide.
Meet Natives.
Canoes.
Alligator.
Visit Melville Island.
Green Ants.
Thoughts of taking ship up Adelaide abandoned.
Tides in Dundas Strait.
Return to Port Essington.
Theatricals.
H.M.S. Pelorus arrives with Provisions.
Further remarks on the Colony.


CHAPTER 1.12.

Leave Port Essington.
Reach Timor Laut.
Meet Proas.
Chief Lomba.
Traces of the Crew of the Charles Eaton.
Their account of the wreck and sojourn on the Island.
Captain King's account of the Rescue of the Survivors.
Boy Ireland's relation of the sufferings and massacre of the Crew.
Appearance of the shores of Timor Laut.
Description of the Inhabitants.
Dress.
Leprosy.
Canoes.
Village of Oliliet.
Curious Houses.
Remarkable Ornaments.
Visit the Oran Kaya.
Burial Islet.
Supplies obtained.
Gunpowder in request as Barter.
Proceed to the Arru Islands.
Dobbo Harbour.
Trade.
Present to Chief.
Birds of Paradise.
Chinaming Junks' bottoms.
Character of Natives.
Some of them profess Christianity.
Visit the Ki Islands.
Village of Ki Illi.
How protected.
Place of Worship.
Pottery.
Timber.
Boat-building.
Cultivation of the eastern Ki.
No anchorage off it.
Visit Ki Doulan.
Antique Appearance of.
Luxuriant Vegetation.
Employment of Natives.
Defences of the place.
Carvings on gateway.
Civility of Chief.
His Dress.
Population of the Ki Group.
Their Religion.
Trade.
Place of Interment.
Agility of Australian Native.
Supplies.
Anchorage off Ki Doulan.
Island of Vordate.
Visit from Chief.
Excitement of Natives.
Their Arms and Ornaments.
Carved Horns on Houses.
Alarm of the Oran Kaya.
Punishment of the Natives of Laarat by the Dutch.
Revisit Oliliet.
Discover that Mr. Watson had rescued the European Boy.
Return to Port Essington.
Mr. Watson's Proceedings at Timor Laut.

...


APPENDIX.

List of Birds, collected by the Officers of H.M.S. Beagle.

Descriptions of Six Fish. By Sir John Richardson. M.D., F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of some New Australian Reptiles. By J.E. Gray, Esquire
F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of new or unfigured Species of Coleoptera from Australia. By
Adam White, Esquire M.E.S.

Descriptions of some new or imperfectly characterized Lepidoptera from
Australia. By E. Doubleday, Esquire F.L.S.


LIST OF CHARTS.

VOLUME 1.

GENERAL CHART OF AUSTRALIA.

BASS STRAIT.

ARAFURA SEA.


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

VOLUME 1.

NATIVES OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
I.R. Fitzmaurice del.

SOUTH BRANCH OF THE ALBERT RIVER.
G. GORE del. London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

NATIVE HABITATION.

SINGULAR TAIL OF KANGAROO.
Natural size.

ROCKS ON ROE'S GROUP.

NATIVE RAFT.

KILEYS OF KING SOUND AND SWAN RIVER.
1/24th of the usual size.

SUBSTANTIAL NATIVE HUT.

SPEARS OF KING SOUND AND SWAN RIVER.

MONUMENT TO LA PEROUSE.

CIRCULAR HEAD.
South-South-East Six Miles.

REID'S ROCKS, KING ISLAND AND THE BLACK PYRAMID.

SECTION OF THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA, AND GREAT BARRIER REEF.
Horizontal Scale of 20 miles. Vertical Scale of 2000 feet.
A. Cape Upstart, 2000 feet high.
B. Bay within 3 fathoms deep.
C. Raised bed of coral and shells, 12 feet high.
D. Depth 17 fathoms, fine grey sand and shells.
E. 27 fathoms, grey sandy mud or marl, which after exposure to the air
becomes very hard.
F. 32 fathoms, coarse sand.
G. Great Barrier Reef, outer part uncertain, being taken from the width
of it near
H. No bottom, with 200 fathoms.
I. Level of sea at high-water; rise of tide 7 feet.

NORTH-WEST PART OF MAGNETIC ISLAND.
G. Gore del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

MOUNT HINCHINBROOK.
West-North-West 35 Miles.

SECTION OF A DETACHED CORAL REEF IN LATITUDE 14 DEGREES SOUTH, WITHIN THE
BARRIER REEF OF AUSTRALIA.
The point C (on the edge of the reef C) stands two feet above waterline
G, and the point D 1 1/2 feet above it. The depth of water in the lagoon
exaggerated in section. Figures on line denote depth of water in feet
beneath. G level of sea in a mean state.

RUSH SHOULDER-COVERING OF NATIVES.

VICTORIA FROM THE ANCHORAGE.

NATIVE TOWN OF OLILIET.
O. Stanley del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.


FISHES.

FISHES. PLATE 1. FIGURES 1, 2, 3.
Cristiceps axillaris.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 1. FIGURES 4, 5.
Balistes phaleratus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Assiculus punctatus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 6, 7, 8, 9. Natural size.
Scorpaena stokesii.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 3.
Smaris porosus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 4.
Chelmon marginalis.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.


REPTILES.

REPTILES. PLATE 1.
Silubosaurus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

REPTILES. PLATE 2.
Egernia cunninghami.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

REPTILES. PLATE 3.
Hydrus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

REPTILES. PLATE 4.
Gonionotus plumbeus.
W. Wing Litho. C. Hullmandel's Patent.


INSECTS.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 1, 1a, 1b and 1c. Megacephala Australasiae,
Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 2 and 2a. Aenigma cyanipenne, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e and 3f. Calloodes
grayianus, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 4, and 4a. Biphyllocera kirbyana, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 5. Cetonia (Diaphonia) notabilis.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 6. Stigmodera elegantula.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 7. Stigmodera erythrura.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 8. Stigmodera saundersii, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 9, 9a, and 9b. Clerus ? obesus.


...



CHAPTER 1.1. INTRODUCTION.

Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.

For more than half a century, the connection between Great Britain and
her Australian possessions has been one of growing interest; and men of
the highest eminence have foreseen and foretold the ultimate importance
of that vast continent, over which, within the memory of living man, the
roving savage held precarious though unquestioned empire.

Of the Australian shores, the North-western was the least known, and
became, towards the close of the year 1836, a subject of much
geographical speculation. Former navigators were almost unanimous in
believing that the deep bays known to indent a large portion of this
coast, received the waters of extensive rivers, the discovery of which
would not only open a route to the interior, but afford facilities for
colonizing a part of Australia, so near our East Indian territories, as
to render its occupation an object of evident importance.

His Majesty's Government therefore determined to send out an expedition
to explore and survey such portions of the Australian coasts as were
wholly or in part unknown to Captains Flinders and King.

H.M. SLOOP BEAGLE.

For this service H.M. Sloop Beagle was commissioned at Woolwich, in the
second week of February 1837 by Commander Wickham, who had already twice
accompanied her in her wanderings over the least known and most
boisterous waters of the globe; first, in her sister ship of discovery,
the Adventure, Captain King, and afterwards as first lieutenant of the
sloop now entrusted to his command. Under Captain Wickham some of the
most important objects of the voyage were achieved, but in consequence of
his retirement in March 1841, owing to ill health, the command of the
Beagle was entrusted to the author of the following pages; and as, by a
singular combination of circumstances, no less than three long and
hazardous voyages of discovery have been successfully completed in this
vessel, some account of her here may not be wholly uninteresting. The
reader will be surprised to learn that she belongs to that much-abused
class, the 10-gun brigs - COFFINS, as they are not infrequently designated
in the service; notwithstanding which, she has proved herself, under
every possible variety of trial, in all kinds of weather, an excellent
sea boat. She was built at Woolwich in 1819, and her first exploit was
the novel and unprecedented one of passing through old London bridge (the
first rigged man-of-war that had ever floated so high upon the waters of
the Thames) in order to salute at the coronation of King George the
Fourth.

VOYAGES OF THE BEAGLE.

Towards the close of the year 1825 she was first commissioned by
Commander Pringle Stokes,* as second officer of the expedition which
sailed from Plymouth on the 22nd of May, 1826, under the command of
Captain Phillip Parker King; an account of which voyage, published by
Captain R. Fitzroy, who ultimately succeeded to the vacancy occasioned by
the lamented death of Captain Stokes, and who subsequently commanded the
Beagle during her second solitary, but most interesting expedition - has
added to the well-earned reputation of the seaman, the more enduring
laurels which literature and science can alone supply.

(*Footnote. Not related to the author.)

DEATH OF CAPTAIN STOKES.

Though painful recollections surround the subject, it would be hardly
possible to offer an account of the earlier history of the Beagle, and
yet make no allusion to the fate of her first commander, in whom the
service lost, upon the testimony of one well qualified to judge, "an
active, intelligent, and most energetic officer:" and well has it been
remarked by the same high authority, "that those who have been exposed to
one of such trials as his, upon an unknown lee shore, during the worst
description of weather, will understand and appreciate some of those
feelings which wrought too powerfully upon his excitable mind." The
constant and pressing cares connected with his responsible commanded - the
hardships and the dangers to which his crew were of necessity exposed
during the survey of Tierra del Fuego - and in some degree the awful gloom
which rests forever on that storm-swept coast - finally destroyed the
equilibrium of a mind distracted with anxiety and shattered by disease.

Perhaps no circumstance could prove more strongly the peculiar
difficulties connected with a service of this nature, nor could any more
clearly testify that in this melancholy instance every thought of



Online LibraryJohn Lort StokesDiscoveries in Australia, Volume 1. With an Account of the Coasts and Rivers Explored and Surveyed During The Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the Years 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43. By Command of the Lords Comm → online text (page 1 of 33)