After the account we have already given of Batavia in this volume, it would be quite unnecessary to notice what Bougainville says of it. We shall only mention that his experience of its unhealthiness was such, as made him use all imaginable expedition to leave it, in order to save the lives of his people, who were reduced to a most deplorable state of health. What Captain Cook says of his old sail-makers is somewhat paralleled by what Bougainville relates of the effect of the novelties of Batavia on the Otaheitan man Aotourou, in keeping him so highly and constantly excited, as for long to preserve him from the prevailing illnesses. At last, we are told, the poor fellow fell sick, and it is mentioned, evidently in praise of his docility, that he became as good a swallower of physic, as a man born in Paris! The inference from this is somewhat dubious, but not to be sceptical, valeat quantum valere potest. Aotourou’s remembrance of the evils of Batavia was such, as prompted him, whenever he named it, to call it, in the language of his country, enoua mate, “the land which kills.”
It was the 16th October when Bougainville quitted Batavia, on the 19th he cleared the straits of Sunda, and in little more than a fortnight afterwards, he came in sight of the Isle of France, where he found it necessary to put in, to have the frigate hove down and repaired, and to procure refreshments for his voyage home. Having accomplished these objects, he set sail on the 12th December, leaving the Etoile there to be careened, as his junction with her was no longer needed for either vessel. On touching at the Cape of Good Hope, he learned, as is elsewhere mentioned, that Captain Carteret was eleven days before him. This, however, owing to the state of the Swallow, was an inconsiderable advantage, and soon ceased to exist. The particulars of the meeting which took place betwixt that vessel and Bougainville’s, have been related in our account of Carteret’s voyage, to which the reader is referred.
On the 4th of March, Bougainville got sight of the isle of Tereera, on the 14th of Ushant, and on the 16th entered the port of St Maloes, after a voyage of two years and four months.