The Naval Pioneers of Australia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about The Naval Pioneers of Australia.

Dampier left here on September 5th, intending again to land further north, but he abandoned the idea and directed his course for Timor.  After he left Timor he called at New Guinea, discovered and named New Britain, now a German colonial possession, spent some weeks upon the New Guinea coast, and then returned to Timor, whence he began his voyage home.  Off Ascension the Roebuck sprang a leak and foundered.  Her company, who with difficulty saved their lives, landed upon Ascension, where they remained till they were rescued and brought to England in the Canterbury, East Indiaman.

During his stay on the coast of New Guinea Dampier, besides those discoveries already enumerated, made others, and the frequent appearance of his name on a modern chart of this coast still commemorates them.

Of Dampier’s personality his writings give us little insight.  As a good writer should, he keeps his private affairs out of his book, but how much we should have been interested in knowing something of the man’s shore life!  Mr. Clark Russell in his admirable sketch of Dampier, for example, takes it for granted that he never married, at any rate during his sea career.  Dampier himself tells us he was married, and gives us a very good idea of when, but he so seldom, after once getting to work upon his narrative, gives us a glimpse of himself that it is easily understood how Mr. Russell came to miss that passage in the Voyage round the World in which the old sailor tells us how in 1687 he named an island the Duke of Grafton’s Isle “as soon as we all landed on it, having married my wife out of the Duchess’s family and leaving her at Arlington House at my going abroad.”

He was, perhaps, not a great man, though a good sailor, who had certain qualities which placed him above his fellows.  We imagine somehow that his expressed pious dislike for buccaneering was not altogether the cause of his abandoning the life, and that when he set out upon his career as an explorer the search for a land where gold could be easily got without fighting for it was his main motive.  He himself tells us so, but we think that he might have been a greater man if his mind had been capable of a little higher aim than the easy getting of riches.  The obscurity of his end is not remarkable when one considers how little was then thought of the value of his discoveries.  It took many years for Cook’s survey of New Holland to bring forth fruits.

In his third volume, written after his return from Ascension, he says:—­

“It has always been the fate of those who have made new discoveries to be disesteemed and slightly spoken of by such as either have had no true relish and value for the things themselves that are discovered, or have had some prejudice against the persons by whom the discoveries were made.  It would be vain, therefore, and unreasonable in me to expect to escape the censure of all, or to hope for better treatment than far worthier persons
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The Naval Pioneers of Australia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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