Early Australian Voyages: Pelsart, Tasman, Dampier eBook

John Pinkerton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 173 pages of information about Early Australian Voyages.
size of the savages that were seen by Captain Pelsart’s people; from whence it is reasonable to conclude that this story was circulated with no other view than to prevent other nations from venturing into these seas.  It is also remarkable that this is the very coast surveyed by Captain Dampier, whose account agrees exactly with that contained in this voyage.  Now though it be true, that from all these accounts there is nothing said which is much to the advantage either of the country or its inhabitants, yet we are to consider that it is impossible to represent either in a worse light than that in which the Cape of Good Hope was placed, before the Dutch took possession of it; and plainly demonstrated that industry could make a paradise of what was a perfect purgatory while in the hands of the Hottentots.  If, therefore, the climate of this country be good, and the soil fruitful, both of which were affirmed in this relation, there could not be a more proper place for a colony than some part of New Holland, or of the adjacent country of Carpentaria.  I shall give my reasons for asserting this when I come to make my remarks on a succeeding voyage.  At present I shall confine myself to the reasons that have induced the Dutch East India Company to leave all these countries unsettled, after having first shown so strong an inclination to discover them, which will oblige me to lay before the reader some secrets in commerce that have hitherto escaped common observation, and which, whenever they are as thoroughly considered as they deserve, will undoubtedly lead us to as great discoveries as those of Columbus or Magellan.

In order to make myself perfectly understood, I must observe that it was the finding out of the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, by the Portuguese, that raised that spirit of discovery which produced Columbus’s voyage, which ended in finding America; though in fact Columbus intended rather to reach this country of New Holland.  The assertion is bold, and at first sight may appear improbable; but a little attention will make it so plain, that the reader must be convinced of the truth of what I say.  The proposition made by Columbus to the State of Genoa, the Kings of Portugal, Spain, England, and France, was this, that he could discover a new route to the East Indies; that is to say, without going round the Cape of Good Hope.  He grounded this proposition on the spherical figure of the earth, from whence he thought it self-evident that any given point might be sailed to through the great ocean, either by steering east or west.  In his attempt to go to the East Indies by a west course, he met with the islands and continent of America; and finding gold and other commodities, which till then had never been brought from the Indies, he really thought that this was the west coast of that country to which the Portuguese sailed by the Cape of Good Hope, and hence came the name of the West Indies.  Magellan, who followed his steps, and was the only discoverer who reasoned systematically, and knew what he was doing, proposed to the Emperor Charles V. to complete what Columbus had begun, and to find a passage to the Moluccas by the west; which, to his immortal honour, he accomplished.

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Early Australian Voyages: Pelsart, Tasman, Dampier from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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