[* See my Life of Tasman, p. 103, note 10.]
Meanwhile the Managing Board of the Royal Geographical Society of the Nether lands had resolved to publish a memorial volume on the occasion of the Society’s twenty-fifth anniversary. Among the plans discussed by the Board was the idea of having the documents just referred to published at the expense of the Society. The name of jubilee publication could with complete justice be bestowed on a work having for its object once more to throw the most decided and fullest possible light on achievements of our forefathers in the 17th and 18th century, in a form that would appeal to foreigners no less than to native readers. An act of homage to our ancestors, therefore, a modest one certainly, but one inspired by the same feeling which in 1892 led Italy and the Iberian Peninsula to celebrate the memory of the discoverer of America, and in 1898 prompted the Portuguese to do homage to the navigator who first showed the world the sea-route to India.
How imperfect and fragmentary even in our days is the information generally available concerning the part borne by the Netherlanders in the discovery of the fifth part of the world, may especially be seen from the works of foreigners. This, I think, must in the first place, though not, indeed, exclusively, be accounted for by the rarity of a working acquaintance with the Dutch tongue among foreign students. On this account the publication of the documents referred to would very imperfectly attain the object in view, unless accompanied by a careful translation of these pieces of evidence into one of the leading languages of Europe; and it stands to reason that in the case of the discovery of Australia the English language would naturally suggest itself as the most fitting medium of information[*]. So much to account for the bilingual character of the jubilee publication now offered to the reader.
[* The English translation is the work of Mr. C. Stoffel, of Nijmegen.]
Closely connected with this consideration is another circumstance which has influenced the mode of treatment followed in the preparation of this work. The defective acquaintance with the Dutch language of those who have made the history of the discovery of Australia the object of serious study, or even, in the case of some of them, their total ignorance of it, certainly appears to me one, nay even the most momentous of the causes of the incomplete knowledge of the subject we are discussing; but it cannot possibly be considered the only cause, if we remember that part of the documentary evidence proving the share of the Netherlanders in the discovery of Australia has already been given to the world through the medium of a leading European tongue.