A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany-Bay eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 73 pages of information about A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany-Bay.

As no person in the ship I was on board had been on this coast before, we consulted a little chart, published by Steele, of the Minories, London, and found it, in general, very correct; it would be more so, were not the Mewstone laid down at too great a distance from the land, and one object made of the Eddystone and Swilly, when, in fact, they are distinct.  Between the two last is an entire bed of impassable rocks, many of them above water.  The latitude of the Eddystone is 43 deg 53 1/2 min, longitude 147 deg 9 min; that of Swilly 43 deg 54 min south, longitude 147 deg 3 min east of Greenwich.

In the night the westerly wind, which had so long befriended us, died away, and was succeeded by one from the north-east.  When day appeared we had lost sight of the land, and did not regain it until the 19th, at only the distance of 17 leagues from our desired port.  The wind was now fair, the sky serene, though a little hazy, and the temperature of the air delightfully pleasant:  joy sparkled in every countenance, and congratulations issued from every mouth.  Ithaca itself was scarcely more longed for by Ulysses, than Botany Bay by the adventurers who had traversed so many thousand miles to take possession of it.

“Heavily in clouds came on the day” which ushered in our arrival.  To us it was “a great, an important day,” though I hope the foundation, not the fall, of an empire will be dated from it.

On the morning of the 20th, by ten o’clock, the whole of the fleet had cast anchor in Botany Bay, where, to our mutual satisfaction, we found the Governor, and the first division of transports.  On inquiry, we heard, that the ‘Supply’ had arrived on the 18th, and the transports only the preceding day.

Thus, after a passage of exactly thirty-six weeks from Portsmouth, we happily effected our arduous undertaking, with such a train of unexampled blessings as hardly ever attended a fleet in a like predicament.  Of two hundred and twelve marines we lost only one; and of seven hundred and seventy-five convicts, put on board in England, but twenty-four perished in our route.  To what cause are we to attribute this unhoped for success?  I wish I could answer to the liberal manner in which Government supplied the expedition.  But when the reader is told, that some of the necessary articles allowed to ships on a common passage to West Indies, were withheld from us; that portable soup, wheat, and pickled vegetables were not allowed; and that an inadequate quantity of essence of malt was the only antiscorbutic supplied, his surprise will redouble at the result of the voyage.  For it must be remembered, that the people thus sent out were not a ship’s company starting with every advantage of health and good living, which a state of freedom produces; but the major part a miserable set of convicts, emaciated from confinement, and in want of cloaths, and almost every convenience to render so long a passage tolerable.  I beg leave, however, to say, that the provisions served on board were good, and of a much superior quality to those usually supplied by contract:  they were furnished by Mr. Richards, junior, of Walworth, Surrey.

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A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany-Bay from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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