The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765.

So far the information furnished by van Linschoten [*].  At the same time, however, there were in the Netherlands persons who had other data to go by.  In 1597 Cornelis WIJTFLIET of Louvain brought out his Descriptionis Plolomaicae augmentum, which among the rest contained a chart on which not only Java figured as an island, but which also represented New Guinea as an island by itself, separated from Terra Australis.  The question naturally suggests itself, whether this chart [**] will justify the assumption that the existence of Torres Strait was known to WIJTFLIET.  I, for one, would not venture to infer as much, seeing that in other respects this chart so closely reproduces the vague conjectures touching a supposed Southland found on other charts of the period, that WIJTFLIET’S open passage between New Guinea and Terra Australis cannot, I think, be admitted as evidence that he actually knew of the existence of Torres Strait, in the absence of any indications of the basis on which this notion of his reposed.  Such indications, however, are altogether wanting:  none are found in WIJTFLIET’S work itself, and other contemporary authorities are equally silent on the point in question [***].

[* See No.  I of the Documents, with charts Nos. 1 and 2.]

[** COLLINGRIDGE, Discovery, p. 219, has a rough sketch of it.]

[*** Cf. also my Life of Tasman, p. 89, and Note 8.]

After this digression let us return to the stand-point taken up by the North-Netherlanders who first set sail for the Indies in 1595.  They “knew in part” only:  they were aware that they knew nothing with certitude.  But their mercantile interests very soon induced them to try to increase and strengthen their information concerning the regions of the East.  What sort of country after all was this much-discussed New-Guinea, they began to ask.  As early as 1602 information was sought from the natives of adjacent islands, but these proved to have “no certain knowledge of this island of Nova Guinea” [*].  The next step taken was the sending out of a ship for the purpose of obtaining this “certain knowledge”:  there were rumours afloat of gold being found in New Guinea!

[* See No.  II of the Documents.]

On the 28th of November 1605 the ship Duifken, commanded by Willem Jansz., put to sea from Bantam with destination for New Guinea.  The ship returned to Banda from its voyage before June of the same year.  What were the results obtained?  What things had been seen by Willem Jansz. and his men?  The journal of the Duifken’s voyage has not come down to us, so that we are fain to infer its results from other data, and fortunately such data are not wanting.  An English ship’s captain was staying at Bantam when the Duifken put to sea, and was still there when the first reports of her adventures reached the said town.  Authentic documents of 1618, 1623, and 1644 are found to refer to her voyage.  Above all, the journal of a subsequent expedition, the one commanded by Carstensz. in 1623, contains important particulars respecting the voyage of his predecessors in 1605-6. [*]

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The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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