A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 687 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 13.
visited, are bound up with a French work, entitled, “Histoire des Navigationes aux Terres Australes,” which was published in 1756, and I found them tolerably exact; yet I know not by whom, or when they were taken:  And though New Holland and New Guinea are in them represented as two distinct countries, the very history in which they are bound up, leaves it in doubt.[101] I pretend, however, to no more merit in this part of the voyage than to have established the fact beyond all controversy.

[Footnote 100:  Delicacy of feeling, perhaps, would have preferred the omission of what has now been recorded as to the advice of some of the officers, to the stating it in such a manner as leaves the responsible persons under the shade of the guiltless, or implicates the latter in the odium of the former.  The advice, at all events, might have been stated impersonally, as a mere suggestion that would naturally present itself to any one who considered the benefit of the crew only, without respect to the rights and properties of the natives,—­a suggestion, however, which it required but a moment’s reflection on the laws of humanity to dissipate with reproach.  Some readers, it is probable, will be sensible, as well as the writer, of an uncomfortable emotion at the perusal of this part of the text, exclusive entirely of disapprobation of the matter of which it treats.—­E.]

[Footnote 101:  The work here mentioned was the valuable labour of President De Brosses, and appeared at Paris, in two vols. quarto.  It was translated into English, and published at London in 1767.  We shall hereafter have occasion to cull some information from it, and to revert to the fact of the separation of New Holland and New Guinea now alluded to.  Callender published a work at Edinburgh, in 1766, in three vols. octavo, entitled, “Terra Australis Cognita; or Voyages to the Terra Australis, or Southern Hemisphere, &c.”  It bore to be an original, but is in fact a translation of what has now been mentioned.—­E.]

As the two countries lie very near each other, and the intermediate space is full of islands, it is reasonable to suppose that they were both peopled from one common stock; yet no intercourse appears to have been kept up between them; for if there had, the cocoa-nuts, bread-fruit, plantains, and other fruits of New Guinea, which are equally necessary for the support of life, would certainly have been transplanted to New Holland, where no traces of them are to be found.  The author of the “Histoire des Navigationes aux Terres Australes,” in his account of La Maire’s voyage, has given a vocabulary of the language that is spoken in an island near New Britain, and we find, by comparing that vocabulary with the words which we learnt in New Holland, that the languages are not the same.  If therefore it should appear that the languages of New Britain and New Guinea are the same, there will be reason to suppose that New Britain and New Guinea were peopled from a common stock, but that the inhabitants of New Holland had a different origin, notwithstanding the proximity of the countries.[102]

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