On the 25th we were in the latitude 20 degrees 15 minutes south, and in the longitude of 206 degrees 19 minutes. The variation here was 6 degrees 20 minutes to the east; and, after leaving had sight of several other islands, we made that of Rotterdam: the islanders here resemble those on the island of Amsterdam. The people were very good-natured, parted readily with what they had, did not seem to be acquainted with the use of arms, but were given to thieving like the natives of Amsterdam Island. Here we took in water, and other refreshments, with all the conveniency imaginable. We made the whole circuit of the island, which we found well-stocked with cocoa-trees, very regularly planted; we likewise saw abundance of gardens, extremely well laid out, plentifully stocked with all kinds of fruit-trees, all planted in straight lines, and the whole kept in such excellent order, that nothing could have a better effect upon the eye. After quitting the island of Rotterdam, we had sight of several other islands; which, however, did not engage us to alter the resolution we had taken of sailing north, to the height of 17 degrees south latitude, and from thence to shape a west course, without going near either Traitor’s Island, or those of Horne, we having then a very brisk wind from the south-east, or east-south-east.
I cannot help remarking upon this part of Captain Tasman’s journal, that it is not easy to conceive, unless he was bound up by leis instructions, why he did not remain some time either at Rotterdam or at Amsterdam Island, but especially at the former; since, perhaps, there is not a place in the world so happily seated, for making new discoveries with ease and safety. He owns that he traversed the whole island, that he found it a perfect paradise, and that the people gave him not the least cause of being diffident in point of security; so that if his men had thrown up ever so slight a fortification, a part of them might have remained there in safety, while the rest had attempted the discovery of the Islands of Solomon on the one hand, or the continent of De Quiros on the other, from neither of which they were at any great distance, and, from his neglecting this opportunity, I take it for granted that he was circumscribed, both as to his course and to the time he was to employ in these discoveries, by his instructions, for otherwise so able a seaman and so curious a man as his journal shows him to have been, would not certainly have neglected so fair an opportunity.