I cannot help supporting my opinion in this respect, by putting the reader in mind of a very curious piece of ancient history, which furnishes us with the like instance in the conduct of another republic. Diodorus Siculus, in the fifth book of his Historical Library, informs us that in the African Ocean, some days’ sail west from Libya, there had been discovered an island, the soil of which was exceedingly fertile and the country no less pleasant, all the land being finely diversified by mountains and plains, the former thick clothed with trees, the latter abounding with fruits and flowers, the whole watered by innumerable rivulets, and affording so pleasant an habitation that a finer or more delightful country fancy itself could not feign; yet he assures us, the Carthagenians, those great masters of maritime power and commerce, though they had discovered this admirable island, would never suffer it to be planted, but reserved it as a sanctuary to which they might fly, whenever the ruin of their own republic left them no other resource. This tallies exactly with the policy of the Dutch East India Company, who, if they should at any time be driven from their possessions in Java, Ceylon, and other places in that neighbourhood, would without doubt retire back into the Moluccas, and avail themselves effectually of this noble discovery, which lies open to them, and has been hitherto close shut up to all the world beside. But to proceed.
On February 14th we were in the latitude of 16 degrees 30 minutes south, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 35 minutes. We had hitherto had much rain and bad weather, but this day the wind sinking, we hailed our consort the Zee-Haan, and found to our great satisfaction that our reckonings agreed. On the 20th, in the latitude of 13 degrees 45 minutes, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 35 minutes, we had dark, cloudy weather, much rain, thick fogs, and a rolling sea, on all sides the wind variable. On the 26th, in the latitude of 9 degrees 48 minutes south, and in the longitude of 193 degrees 43 minutes, we had a north-west wind, having every day, for the space of twenty-one days, rained more or less. On March 2nd, in the latitude of 9 degrees 11 minutes south, and in the longitude of 192 degrees 46 minutes, the variation was 10 degrees to the east, the wind and weather still varying. On March 8th, in the latitude of 7 degrees 46 minutes south, and in the longitude of 190 degrees 47 minutes, the wind was still variable.