We continued to sail in company with the fleet, till the 10th in the morning, when, perceiving that we sailed much heavier than any other ship, and thinking it for that reason probable that the Portland would get home before us, I made the signal to speak with her, upon which Captain Elliot himself came on board, and I delivered to him a letter to the Admiralty, with a box, containing the common logbooks of the ship, and the journals of some of the officers. We continued in company, however, till the 23d in the morning, and then there was not one of the ships in sight. About one o’clock in the afternoon, died our first lieutenant, Mr Hicks, and in the evening we committed his body to the sea, with the usual ceremonies. The disease of which he died was a consumption, and as he was not free from it when we sailed from England, it may truly be said that he was dying during the whole voyage, though his decline was very gradual till we came to Batavia: The next day I gave Mr Charles Clerk an order to act as lieutenant in his room, a young man who was extremely well qualified for that station.
Our rigging and sails were now become so bad, that something was giving way every day. We continued our course, however, in safety till the 10th of June, when land, which proved to be the Lizard, was discovered by Nicholas Young, the same boy that first saw New Zealand; on the 11th we run up the Channel, at six in the morning of the 12th we passed Beachy Head, at noon we were abreast of Dover, and about three came to an anchor in the Downs, and went ashore at Deal.
An Abstract of the VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD, performed by LEWIS DE BOUGAINVILLE, Colonel of Foot, and Commander of the Expedition, in the FrigateLa Boudeuse, and the Store-ship L’Etoile, in the Years 1766-7-8 and 9. (Drawn up expressly for this Work.)
The restitution of the Falkland Islands to the Spaniards was the first object of this voyage. So early as February 1764, France had commenced a settlement on them, and in all probability would have ensured its prosperity; but the property was claimed by Spain, in virtue of the old and at best imaginary rights conferred on that power by the Pope to the lands of the western hemisphere, of which they were held to be a part. It is sometimes more politic, and perhaps almost always more convenient, to avoid war, by the display of generosity in concession, than to run the hazard of expensive contension, and an unprofitable issue, by the obstinate maintenance of dubious advantages. Such seems to have been the opinion of the French king, in this instance. He acknowledged the claim of the Spaniards, and accordingly gave orders for the delivering up of the settlement. In this determination, it is probable, he was strengthened by the apprehension of the difficulties of supporting and defending an establishment, at so great a distance from his dominions.