The First Discovery of Australia and New Guinea
Being The Narrative of Portuguese and Spanish Discoveries in the Australasian Regions, between the Years 1492-1606, with Descriptions of their Old Charts.
By George Collingridge De Tourcey, M.C.R.G.S., of Australasia;
Hon. Corr. M.R.G.S., Melbourne, Victoria; Hon. Corr. M.N.G.S., Neuchatel, Switzerland; Hon. Corr. M. of the Portuguese G.S.; Hon. Corr. M. of the Spanish G.S.; Founder (with his brother, Arthur Collingridge) and First Vice-President of the Royal Art Society of N.S.W., Australia; Author of "The Discovery of Australia," etc., etc.
First published 1906
"Olba a Sunda tao larga que huma banda Esconde para o Sul difficultuoso." CAMOENS.—Os Lusiadas.
I. In Quest of the Spice Islands II. Voyages to the Spice Islands and Discovery of Papua III. The Spice Islands in Ribero's Map IV. Villalobos' Expedition and Further Discoveries in Papua V. The First Map of New Guinea VI. Jave-la-Grande, The First Map of Australia VII. Pierre Desceliers' Map VIII. Desliens' Map IX. Mendana and Sarmiento Discover the Solomons X. Mendana in Search of the Solomon Islands. An Early Map of the Solomons XI. Queiroz's Voyage. A Spanish Map of the Bay of St. Philip and St. James, in Espiritu-Santo Island (New Hebrides) XII. Torres' Discoveries
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
1. Prince Henry the Navigator 2. Statue of Prince Henry 3. Portuguese Fleet 4. Magellan 5. The Victoria 6. The Trinidad in a Squall 7. Flying Fish (From an Old Map) 8. Sebastian del Cano 9. Scene in the Spice Islands 10. Tidor Volcano, seen from Ternate 11. The Cassowary 12. Spanish Ships 13. Nutmegs and Cloves, from an Old Chart 14. Banda Volcano 15. Diego do Couto's Pig 16. Malay Press 17. Spanish Ships 18. Guinea Fowl 19. Scene in New Guinea 20. Spanish Caravels 21. The Great Albuquerque 22. Bamboos 23. Guanaco 24. Marco Polo 25. Ant Hills 26. Mendana's Fleet 27. Crescent-shaped canoes 28. Scene in the Solomon Islands 29. Tinacula Volcano, from Santa Cruz 30. Queiroz's Fleet 31. An Atoll Reef 32. Type of Island Woman 33. War Drums 34. Scene in the Solomon Islands
LIST OF MAPS IN TEXT.
1. Portuguese Hemisphere 2. Spanish Hemisphere 3. Timor, from an Old Chart 4. Australia and Jave-la-Grande compared 5. Santa Ysabel Island 6. Guadalcanal Island 7. Santa Cruz Island 8. The Earliest Map of the Solomon Islands 9. Queiroz's Track 10. Tierra Australia del Espiritu Santo 11. New Hebrides 12. The Big Bay of Santo 13. New Holland 14. Torres' Track
LIST OF COLOURED MAPS—ILLUSTRATED.
1. The Earliest Drawing of a Wallaby 2. The Spice Islands, from Ribero's Official Map of the World 3. Nova Guinea—The First Map of New Guinea 4. Jave-la-Grande—The First Map of Australia 5. Don Diego de Prado's Map of the Bay of St Philip and St James in Espiritu Santo 6. Don Diego de Prado's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea 7. Pierre Desceliers' Map of Australia 8. Desliens' Map of Australia 9. Moresby's Map of the Islands at the South-east end of New Guinea 10. The Great Bay of St Lawrence 11. Bay of St Peter of Arlanza
PREFACE TO GEORGE COLLINGRIDGE'S DISCOVERY OF AUSTRALIA, PUBLISHED IN 1895.
Of the many books which have been published on subjects relating to Australia and Australian History, I am not aware of any, since my late friend, Mr. R. H. Major's introduction to his valuable work, "Early Voyages to Terra Australis," which has attempted a systematic investigation into the earliest discoveries of the great Southern Island-Continent, and the first faint indications of knowledge that such a land existed. Mr. Major's work was published in 1859, at a time when the materials for such an enquiry were much smaller than at present. The means of reproducing and distributing copies of the many ancient maps which are scattered among the various libraries of Europe were then very imperfect, and the science of Comparative Cartography, of which the importance is now well recognised, was in its infancy. For these reasons his discussion, useful though it still is, cannot be regarded as abreast of modern opportunities. It is, indeed, after the lapse of more than a third of a century, somewhat out of date. Having, therefore, been led to give close attention during several years to the whole subject, I have thought the time ripe for the present work.
The distance from the great centres and stores of knowledge at which I have been compelled to labour will excuse to the candid critic the errors which will no doubt be discovered; yet I feel some confidence that these will prove to be omissions rather than positive mistakes. No pains have been spared in investigating the full body of documents now available.
Though unable to examine personally some manuscripts of interest and value, I believe I can truly say that I have read every book and examined every map of real importance to the question which has been produced in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. I have corresponded also largely during the past four years with many of the most eminent members of the Geographical Societies of London, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Amsterdam and Neuchatel. To these gentlemen I am deeply indebted for searches which they have made for me in the libraries and museums within their reach, for much information readily and kindly afforded, and for the interest and sympathy which they had at all times manifested in my labours. My thanks are due also to the gentlemen in charge of the Sydney Free Public Library who kindly enriched their collection with many rare, and very useful volumes of permanent importance which I was unable to procure myself, and who aided my researches by every means in their power.
I cannot hope that in a subject so vast and interesting, I shall be found to have said the last word, yet I trust that my book may prove to be of value, both in itself, and as directing the attention of others to a field which should be mainly explored by residents of Australia. Such as it is, I now send it forth, with the natural solicitude of a parent, and commend it to the indulgence of the reader, and the kindly justice of the critic.
GEORGE COLLINGRIDGE, "Jave-la-Grande," Hornsby Junction, July, 1895.
Ten years ago, Mr. George Collingridge published "The Discovery of Australia."—a large quarto volume, bulky, erudite and expensive. It took its place as a valuable contribution to the literature of the country, and remains the world-accepted authority on the important and interesting subject with which it deals. But it was in nowise suited to the general reader—being designed more for the scholar than for the person who desired to conveniently possess himself of authentic information relating to the earliest annals of Australian discovery.
To meet the requirements of the general reader, and to serve as a text book of Australian History, the present publication has been issued as a handy compendium of the original volume.
From this book, all controversial matter has been omitted as irrelevant to a work intended as a handbook for either scholar or student.
The valuable facsimiles of rare and ancient maps have been retained, many illustrations have been included in the text, and the story of the explorers has been dealt with at greater length by the author, whose patient antiquarian research, his knowledge of European and Oriental Languages, and his opportunities as a member of several Geographical Societies, have given him unusual facilities for the compilation of a work which may confidently be expected to find its way into every scholastic, public and private library in the Commonwealth.
The discovery of a continental island like Australia was not a deed that could be performed in a day. Many years passed away, and many voyages to these shores of ours were undertaken by the leading maritime nations of Europe, before the problematic and mysterious TERRA AUSTRALIS INCOGNITA of the ancients became known, even in a summary way, and its insularity and separation from other lands positively established.
We must not be astonished, therefore, at the strange discrepancies that occur in early charts and narratives, for it took time to realize how different portions of our coast lines, which had been sighted from time to time might be connected, and how the gaps might be filled in by fresh discoveries and approximate surveys.
The question as to who first sighted Australia, and placed on record such discovery, either in the shape of map or narrative, will, in all probability, ever remain a mystery.
However, that such a record was made appears evident when we consider certain early charts, follow carefully the testimony which the evolution of Australian cartography affords, and take cognisance of various descriptive passages to be found in old authors.
These passages will be given here in connection with the old charts, and followed up by the narratives of voyages in search of the "Great South Land."
The numerous maps and illustrations have been carefully selected; they will greatly help the student towards understanding these first pages of the history of Australia.
THE FIRST DISCOVERY OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW GUINEA.
IN QUEST OF THE SPICE ISLANDS.
"And the New South rose with her forehead bare— Her forehead hare to meet the smiling sun— Australia in her golden panoply; And far off Empires see her work begun, And her large hope has compassed every sea."
—SIR GILBERT PARKER.
What was the relative position of European nations in the arena of maritime discovery at the beginning of the sixteenth century?
Portugal was then mistress of the sea.
Spain, too, indulging in an awakening yawn, was clutching with her outstretched hands at the shadowy treasure-islands of an unfinished dream.
England had not yet launched her navy; Holland had not built hers.
Portugal had already buried a king—the great grandson of Edward III. of England—whose enterprise had won for him the name of Henry the Navigator.
Slowly and sadly—slowly always, sadly often—his vessels had crept down the west coast of Africa; little by little one captain had overstepped the distance traversed by his predecessor, until at last in 1497 a successful voyager actually rounded the Cape.
Then Portugal, clear of the long wall that had fenced her in on one side for so many thousands of miles, trod the vast expanse of waters to the east, and soon began to plant her flag in various ports of the Indian Ocean. [See Portuguese flags on Desliens' Map.]
Pushing on further east in search of the Spice Islands, she found Sumatra, Borneo, the Celebes, Java, Timor, Ceram, the Aru Islands and Gilolo; she had reached the famous and much coveted Moluccas, or Spice Islands, and set to work building forts and establishing trading stations in the same way as England is doing nowadays in South Africa and elsewhere.*
[* In a chart of the East Indian Archipelago, drawn probably during the first Portuguese voyages to the Spice Islands (1511-1513), the island of Gilolo is called Papoia. Many of the islands situated on the west and north-west coast of New Guinea became known to the Portuguese at an early date, and were named collectively OS PAPUAS. The name was subsequently given to the western parts of New Guinea. Menezes, a Portuguese navigator, is said to have been driven by a storm to some of these islands, where he remained awaiting the monsoonal change.]
Meanwhile the Spaniards, after the discovery of America by Columbus, were pursuing their navigations and explorations westward with the same object in view, and it soon dawned upon them that a vast ocean separated them from the islands discovered by the Portuguese.
Magellan was then sent out in search of a westerly passage; he reached the regions where the Portuguese had established themselves, and disputes arose as to the limits of the Portuguese and Spanish boundaries.
Pope Alexander VI. had generously bestowed one-half of the undiscovered world upon the Spanish, and the other half upon the Portuguese, charging each nation with the conversion of the heathen within its prospective domains.
Merely as a fact this is interesting enough, but viewed in the light of subsequent events it assumes a specific importance.
The actual size of the earth was not known at the time, and this division of Pope Alexander's, measured from the other side of the world, resulted in an overlapping and duplicate charting of the Portuguese and Spanish boundaries in the longitudes of the Spice Islands,* an overlapping due, no doubt, principally to the desire of each contending party to include the Spice Islands within its own hemisphere, but also to the fact that the point of departure which had been fixed in the vicinity of the Azores, was subsequently removed westward as far as the mouth of the Amazons.
If Portugal and Spain had remained to the present day in possession of their respective hemispheres, the first arrangement would have given Australia and New Guinea to Portugal; whereas the second arrangement would have limited her possessions at the longitude that separates Western Australia from her sister States to the east, which States would have fallen to the lot of Spain. Strange to say, this line of demarcation still separates Western Australia from South Australia so that those two States derive their boundary demarcation from Pope Alexander's line.
A few years after the discovery of the New World the Spanish Government found it necessary, in order to regulate her navigations, and ascertain what new discoveries were being made, to order the creation of an official map of the world, in the composition of which the skill and knowledge of all her pilots and captains were sought.
Curiously enough, as it may appear, there is an open sea where the Australian continent should be marked on this official map.
Are we to infer that no land had been sighted in that region?
Such a conclusion may be correct, but we must bear in mind that prior to the year 1529, when this map was made,* the Spaniards had sailed along 250 leagues of the northern shores of an island which they called the Island of Gold, afterwards named New Guinea, and yet there are no signs of that discovery to be found on the Spanish official map. It is evident, therefore, that this part of the world could not have been charted up to date. This is not extraordinary, for it was not uncommon in those days, nor was it deemed strange that many years should elapse before the results of an expedition could be known at head-quarters. In order to realise the nature of the delays and difficulties to be encountered, nay, the disasters and sufferings to be endured and the determination required for the distant voyages of the period, we have but to recall the fate of Magellan's and Loaysa's expeditions.
[* See the Ribero Map.]
Those navigators were sent out in search of a western passage to the Spice Islands, and with the object of determining their situation.
Of the five vessels which composed Magellan's squadron, one alone, the Victoria, performed the voyage round the world.
The S. Antonio deserted in the Straits which received Magellan's name, seventy odd of the crew returning to Spain with her.
The Santiago was lost on the coast of Patagonia.
The Concepcion, becoming unfit for navigation, was abandoned and burnt off the island of Bohol, in the St. Lazarus Group, afterwards called the Philippines.
The Trinidad was lost in a heavy squall in Ternate Roads, and all hands made prisoners by the Portuguese. Many of them died, and, years after, only four of the survivors reached their native shores.
The Victoria, after an absence of three years all but twelve days, returned to Spain with thirty-one survivors out of a total crew of two hundred and eighty. The remaining one hundred and sixty or seventy had perished. It is true that some of those shared the fate of Magellan, and were killed in the war undertaken in the Philippines to help their allies.
The fate of Loaysa's armada was still more disastrous. A short description of it will be given in the next chapter.
Notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the period was one of great maritime activity, and many unauthorised and clandestine voyages were also performed, in the course of which Australia may have been discovered, for the western and eastern coasts were charted before the year 1530, as we shall see by and by.
VOYAGES TO THE SPICE ISLANDS AND DISCOVERY OF PAPUA.
Whilst the Portuguese and Spaniards were fighting for the possession of the "Spicery," as they sometimes called the Moluccas, the old dispute about the line of demarcation was resumed in Spain and Portugal. It was referred to a convocation of learned geographers and pilots, held at Badajoz, on the shores of the Guadiana.
Those learned men talked and argued, and their animated discussions extended over many months; but no decision was arrived at.
Sebastian del Cano, who had been appointed commander after Magellan's death at the Philippines, and had returned to Spain with the remnant of the expedition, had been called upon to report his views at the meetings, but he, also, had not been able to prove under what longitude the Spice Islands were situated; and now another fleet was ordered to be fitted out to make further investigations.
It was entrusted to Garcia Jofre de Loaysa, with del Cano as pilot-major, and other survivors of Magellan's armada.
They sailed from Coruna in July, 1525, with an armament of seven ships. Every precaution was taken to ensure the success of the voyage, but the expedition proved a most disastrous one notwithstanding. During a fearful storm del Cano's vessel was wrecked at the entrance to Magellan's Straits, and the captain-general was separated from the fleet.
Francisco de Hoces, who commanded one of the ships, is reported to have been driven by the same storm to 55 deg. of south latitude, where he sighted the group of islands which became known at a later date under the name of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.
It was April before the rest of the fleet entered Magellan's Straits, and the passage was tedious and dismal, several of the sailors dying from the extreme cold. At last, on the 25th of May, 1526, they entered the Pacific Ocean, where they were met by another storm, which dispersed the fleet right and left.
On this occasion an extraordinary piece of good luck befel one of the small vessels of the fleet—a pinnace or row boat, of the kind called pataca, in command of Joam de Resaga, who steered it along the coast of Peru, unknown at the time, and reached New Spain, where they gave an account to the famous conquerer of Mexico, Fernand Cortez, telling him that Loaysa was on his way to the islands of cloves.*
[* It is strange that this voyage, along the coasts of an hitherto unexplored country, preceding as it did, not only the conquest of Peru by Pizarro, but even the arrival of that conquistadore in the South Pacific Ocean, should have remained unknown by Prescott and all other historians of the conquest of the Land of the Incas.]
The remnant of the fleet steered a north-westerly course when once in the Pacific Ocean.
They were in a sore plight. Both commanders were sick, and, nearing the Line, on the 30th of July, Loaysa died. Four days after, Sebastian del Cano, who had escaped and weathered so many storms and dangers, expired also, leaving the command of the expedition to Alonzo de Salazar.
Salazar steered for the Ladrones. On the 4th of September he arrived at that group, where he met Gonzalo de Vigo, one of the seamen of the Trinidad.
From the Ladrones the expedition sailed for the Philippines, and on the way Alonzo de Salazar, the third commander, died.
Martin de Iniquez was now appointed to the command, and it was November before they came to anchor at Zamofo, a port in an island belonging to the King of Tidor, who had become their ally during their previous voyage.
Disputes immediately arose between the Spaniards and the Portuguese commander settled at Ternate. A war ensued, which lasted for several years, with various degrees of success and activity, the people of Tidor supporting the Spaniards and those of Ternate the Portuguese settlers.
Galvano, the Portuguese historian of the Moluccas, and a resident there for many years, informs us that only one vessel of Loaysa's fleet reached the Spice Islands. The fourth commander, Martin de Iniquez, died some time after, poisoned, it is said, and the command of the remnant of the expedition was entrusted to Hernando de la Torre. But the only vessel left was found to be so much damaged in repeated actions with the Portuguese that it had become unfit for the homeward voyage.
About this time, 1527, Fernand Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico, sent from New Spain his kinsman, Alvaro de Saavedra, in search of Loaysa's expedition.
Saavedra set out from the Pacific coast with three armed vessels and one hundred and ten men.
Two of the vessels were almost immediately separated from the commander, and their destiny remains a mystery to the present day.
Saavedra, however, in command of the Santiago pursued his course alone and reached the Spice Islands, after a voyage of a little over two months.
His countrymen were delighted to see him, but remembering their own sad experiences, would hardly credit that he had come from New Spain in so short a time.
He was immediately attacked by the Portuguese, and various engagements took place in which he was supported by the survivors of Loaysa's armada, who had now built a brigantine out of the planks of their famous fleet of seven vessels.
Meanwhile Saavedra, during the intervals of peace, did not neglect to load up his good ship with spices, and, in the beginning of June, 1528, he set sail for New Spain. The prevailing winds that had favored his outward passage were now against him. He tried to avoid them by taking a southerly course, and, in doing so, he fell in with the northern coast of New Guinea, the shores of which, as I have intimated, he followed for no less than 250 leagues.
The Spaniards found traces of gold all along this part of the country, and Saavedra named the island Isla del Oro, the Island of Gold; but his description of the natives, whom he found to be black, with short crisped hair or wool, similar to those of the coast of Guinea in Africa, gave rise, no doubt, to the alteration in the name, for at a later date the island became known as Nova Guinea, or New Guinea.
Upon leaving the shores of New Guinea, Saavedra hoped to be able to reach New Spain, but the head winds which still prevailed compelled him to return to the Spice Islands.
The following year, in May, 1529, in another attempt to reach New Spain, he again coasted along the northern shores of New Guinea; he then sailed to the north-east, as in his previous voyage, and discovered some islands which he called Los Pintados, from the natives being painted or tattooed.
The people were fierce and warlike, and from a canoe boldly attacked the ships with showers of stones thrown from slings.
To the north-east of Los Pintados several low inhabited islands or atolls were discovered, and named Los Buenos Jardines, "The Good Gardens."
Saavedra cast anchor here, and the natives came to the shore, waving a flag of peace; they were light-complexioned and tattooed. The females were beautiful, with agreeable features and long black hair; they wore dresses of fine matting. When the Spaniards landed, they were met by men and women in procession, with tambourines and festal songs. These islands abounded in cocoanuts and other vegetable productions.
From the Good Gardens Islands they set out again towards New Spain.
On the 9th of October, 1529, Saavedra died; and the next in command, vainly attempting to make headway in an easterly direction, returned once more to the Spice Islands.
The remnant of Saavedra's expedition reached Spain, by way of the Cape of Good Hope and Lisbon, seven years later, in 1536.
According to Galvano, the Portuguese historian, Saavedra's discoveries in 1529 were more extensive than in 1528. He says the Spaniards coasted along the country of the Papuas for five hundred leagues, and found the coast clean and of good anchorage.
The year that witnessed the return from the Spice Islands of the survivors of Saavedra's expedition, 1536, witnessed also the sailing of another fleet sent out from New Spain by Fernand Cortez to discover in the same waters.
It consisted of two ships commanded by Grijalva and Alvarado.
The account of this voyage of discovery is very vague, and the various writers on the subject do not entirely agree. This is due, perhaps, to the fact that Alvarado abandoned the enterprise from the start, and went to the conquest of Quito, in Peru, leaving the sole command to Grijalva.
It appears certain, however, that Grijalva visited many islands on the north coast of New Guinea, and one, in particular, called Isla de los Crespos, Island of the Frizzly Heads, at the entrance of Geelvinck Bay, near which a mutiny occurred, and Grijalva was murdered by his revolted crew.
His ship was wrecked, and the expedition came to an end, a few of the survivors reaching the Spice Islands in 1539.
Most of the names given during the course of the exploration are difficult to locate.
Besides the various place-names mentioned by Galvano, Ostrich Point, the Struis Hoek of later Dutch charts, is, perhaps, a reminiscence of this untimely voyage.
A casoar, or cassowary, would, of course, be called an ostrich, and here we have for the first time in history a picturesque description of that Australasian bird.
Galvano's translator says: "There is heere a bird as bigge as a crane, and bigger; he flieth not, nor hath any wings wherewith to flee; he runneth on the ground like a deere. Of their small feathers they do make haire for their idols."
THE SPICE ISLANDS, IN RIBERO'S MAP.
I must now say a few words about the official map of the world, alluded to on page 16. It is by Ribero, and will be found on pages 28 and 29. The date of this map is 1529.
The portion reproduced shows the Spice Islands, and a glance at this part of the world brings vividly to our minds the intense desire of each contending party to possess a region that yielded the wealth that is here described.
The map is Spanish, and Spain has allotted to herself the lion's share, planting her flag in the midst of "Spice and everything nice" (see Spanish hemisphere), and relegating the Portuguese flag to the Straits of Sunda (see Portuguese hemisphere). For thousands of miles around, ships—the seas are dotted with specimens similar to the two included within our small area—fleets of them, converge towards, or sail away from these spice-bearing islands. Every quaint old craft, whether light caravel or crazy galleon, is underwritten with the legend, Vengo de Maluco, I come from the Moluccas, or, Vay a Maluco, I go to the Moluccas, as though that region were the only one on the face of the globe worthy of consideration. And all that "Province of Maluco" bears inscriptions denoting the particular product for which each island is celebrated.
These are:— Timor, for Sandal-wood; Java, for Benzoin;* Borneo and Celebes, for Camphor; Amboyna, for Mace and Nutmegs; and last, not least, Gilolo, for Cloves.
[* Benzoin, a fragrant gum-resin obtained from Styrax Benzoin, used in pharmacy, and as incense.]
Let us now consider some other features of this map. The overlapping of territorial boundaries to which I have alluded, is apparent here in the repetition of the western coast line of Gilolo.
It will be seen that the Spanish map claims Gilolo and the other Spice Islands, such as Ternate, Tidor, Batchian, etc., since they are set down, in the western half of the world.
This is wrong, for those islands virtually fell within the Portuguese sphere. I have purposely drawn your attention to these deceptions and distortions on this Spanish map because on the first map of Australia, which we shall consider by and by, we shall see that the Portuguese made use of similar methods which they, of course, turned to their own advantage.
For instance, they blocked the sea-way to the south of Java, and, in other ways, restricted the approach to the Spice Islands to channels over which they had control. Observe that the smaller islands of the East Indian Archipelago, from Java to Flores, are not charted, although they were well-known at the time. There must have been a reason for this, for these missing islands are precisely those which we shall find grafted on to the Australian continent (Jave-la-Grande) in the charts that we are coming to.
Observe also that the south coast of Java is not marked. The reason for this is obvious, the south coast was not known. Java, indeed, was believed to be connected with the Great Southern Continent, and was called Java Major, to distinguish it from Sumatra, which was named Java Minor.
In proof of the Portuguese belief concerning the connection and size of Java, I quote here what Camoens, their immortal poet, says:—
"Olha a Sunda* tao larger, que huma banda Esconde pare o Sul difficultuoso." Os Lusiadas. Java behold, so large that one vast end It, covers towards the South tempestuous.
[* Another name for Java.]
Towards the year 1570, however, practical Portuguese seamen had become aware of a more accurate shape for Java, and Diego do Couto, the Portuguese historian, describes its shape in the following manner:—
"The figure of the island of Java resembles a pig couched on its fore legs, with its snout to the Channel of Balabero,* and its hind legs towards the mouth of the Straits of Sunda, which is much frequented by our ships. The southern coast, [pig's back] is not frequented by us, and its bays and ports are not known; but the northern coast [pig's stomach] is much frequented, and has many good ports."
[* Modern Straits of Bali.]
VILLALOBOS' EXPEDITION AND FURTHER DISCOVERIES IN PAPUA.
After various treaties, signed at Segovia, Seville and Zaragoza, the King of Spain renounced at last, his claim to the Spice Islands, for the sum of 350,000 ducats.
But this agreement did not interfere with other possessions of the Spanish crown, nor did it prevent the Spaniards from making fresh conquests within the limits which had been allotted to them.
Meanwhile the Portuguese were more active in their explorations.
Making the Spice Islands the centre of their enterprise, under the guidance and governorship of Galvano, the "Apostle and historian of the Moluccas," they sent their caravels in every direction, equipping also native junks and proas for purposes of trade and discovery. From Japan in the north, to Timor in the south, and from Java in the west, to the Carolines and Ladrones in the east, they penetrated everywhere.
The Spaniards on their side continued to lay claim to the islands of the archipelago of St. Lazarus, discovered by Magellan, and, after Villalobos expedition, called the Philippine Islands, in honour of Phillip II. of Spain.
These islands, situated outside the Spanish sphere, had fallen under Portuguese sway by treaties with the native kings, and by conquests made after the death of Magellan.
Of these events the Spanish government knew but little, but Magellan's initiatory work and conquests were not to be abandoned, and Don Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain, was ordered to equip and send out a colonising expedition without delay.
It was entrusted to Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, and set sail from New Spain on the 1st of November, 1542.
The Armada was composed of six ships and four or five hundred soldiers. On their way from the west coast of North America to the Philippines, they discovered many islands in the North Pacific Ocean; among others the Hawaiian Group, visited many years after by Cook, and named by him the Sandwich Islands.
In 1543 one of the ships belonging to the fleet, the San Juan, commanded by Bernardo della Torre, with Gaspar Rico as first pilot, made an attempt to return to New Spain.
But in their numerous efforts to reach America from the Great Asiatic Archipelagoes, the Spaniards had not yet found out the proper season nor latitude to sail in, and through their want of knowledge concerning the periodicity of the winds in those regions, they met with many disappointments and mishaps.
In Bernardo della Torres' attempt, many islands were discovered, and, after sailing seven hundred leagues in their estimation, the wind failing, they were compelled to return to the Philippines.
Meanwhile the attempt at colonisation had been a failure and the fleet had sailed away and reached the Moluccas, to which islands della Torre repaired.
In the year 1545 the San Juan was despatched again.
She was now commanded by Inigo Ortiz de Retez, Gaspar Rico being still the pilot. They sailed from Tidor in the Moluccas, in the beginning of the year, and made extensive discoveries on the north coast of Os Papuas, or Papua, which discoveries will be seen on the old Spanish chart in the next chapter.
One of the three great Papuan rivers, the river now called the Amberno, was discovered and was named the S. Augustino, and formal possession was taken in the name of the King of Spain.
THE FIRST MAP OF NEW GUINEA.
Had the Portuguese and Spanish known the map of New Guinea as we know it nowadays they would, no doubt, have described it as a Guinea fowl, Bird of Paradise or some such creature, as delineated above, in the same way as they described Java and other islands in these seas.*
[* Celebes was likened to a spider, Ceram to a caterpillar, etc., etc.]
The map of Nova Guinea, shows, however, that their ideas were like all original ideas concerning shapes of countries—imperfect.
Nevertheless, some of the principal features of the Portuguese and Spanish discoveries in Papuas and New Guinea, up to the year 1545, are clearly discernible.*
[* The original Portuguese and Spanish documents that were used in the compilation of this map have been lost or have not yet come to light. Our copy dates from the year 1600.]
It will be noticed that Gilolo is now placed in its correct position, twenty degrees to the west of where it was placed before in Ribero's map.
It is now in the Portuguese sphere where it should be.
The Portuguese discoveries in New Guinea occupy what might be described as the fowl's head and neck. They come under the name of OS PAPUAS, and the islands where Menezes is said to have sojourned—hic hibernavit Georg de Menezes—in the year 1526.
The three nameless large islands, between Os Papuas and Nova Guinea represent, no doubt, the Misory Islands and Jobi of modern charts.
The Aru Islands are also charted, and the Tenimber or Timor Laut group is indicated (although it bears no name) as having been the sojourn of Martin Alfonso de Melo,* a Portuguese navigator, whose name has not been otherwise recorded, as far as I know, in the history of maritime discovery in these parts.
[* Martin afonso de mela, on the chart.]
The Spanish portion commemorates the expedition of Inigo Ortiz de Retez with Gaspar Rico, in the San Juan, in the year 1545; some of the names being the Rio de S. Augustino; the island of Ortiz, I de Arti; the port of Gaspar Rico and the I. S. Juan, named after their little ship; the cape named Ancon de la Natividad de Nustra Siniora, being the term of their voyage which, according to Juan Gaetan, one of Villalobos' pilots, who wrote a description of it, extended to six or seven degrees of south latitude, must represent the modern Cape King William, or thereabouts.
JAVE-LA-GRANDE. THE FIRST MAP OF AUSTRALIA.
The maps that I am going to describe in this chapter are beautiful specimens of medieval work; they are, however, somewhat startling, for they reveal, in a most unexpected and sudden manner, nearly the whole of the coasts of Australia discovered, yet, without any narrative of voyage to prepare us for the fact.
They stand alone, therefore, as the most important documents hitherto come to light bearing on the early discovery and mapping of Australia.
They belong to a type of manuscript Lusitano-French, or Lusitano-Spanish planispheres, which is represented by several specimens, all of which are copies from a prototype which has either been destroyed or has not yet been found.
As the original model, or prototype, is of a date anterior to 1536, they may be considered collectively notwithstanding the apparent later date of some of them.*
[* Desliens' bears the date 1566; see pages 70-71.]
The Australian portion, or Jave-la-Grande, of the oldest one, given here first, is taken from a large chart of the world, on a plane scale, painted on vellum, 8ft. 2in. by 3ft. 10in., highly ornamented with figures, etc., and with the names in French.
At the upper corner, on the left hand, is a shield of the arms of France, with the collar of St. Michael; and on the right, another shield of France and Dauphiny, quarterly. It was probably executed in the time of Francis I. of France, for his son, the Dauphin, afterwards Henry II.; hence, this chart has sometimes been called the "Dauphin Chart."*
[* Another of these planispheres, belonging to the same French School of Cartography, was presented to Henry II. of France. About that time a movement was set on foot for the colonisation of the Great Southern Continent, or Jave-la-Grande. The promotors failed in their endeavours, and one of them went to England with the hopes of better success; he also failed in his efforts, and the great colonising scheme was abandoned.]
This chart formerly belonged to Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford and one of the principal Lords of the Admiralty, after whose death it was taken away by one of his servants. It. was subsequently purchased by Sir Joseph Banks, Bart., and presented by him to the British Museum in 1790.
Copies of this and other maps of the same category, have been made for the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Free Public Libraries, at considerable expense. This was a wise step on the part of our governments, for the strongest evidence of early discovery as yet brought to light is shown in the draughting of these old charts of Australia.
Unfortunately, as I have said, they are all mere copies of copies, the first of which were more or less altered in outline and corrupted in nomenclature, from a prototype which has not yet been found.
But, if the internal evidence of these odd charts clearly shows the original or originals to have been Portuguese or Spanish, one point of the question will be settled, and the Portuguese and Spanish will undoubtedly be entitled to the claim and honor of having discovered Australia.
As to the matter of date, that is of less importance, and can be fixed approximately, for the discovery must have taken place at some period between the arrival of the Portuguese and Spanish in these seas and the draughting of the earliest known chart, that is between the years 1511 and 1536, a period of 25 years.*
[* When the Portuguese reached India and the East Indian Archipelago (1511) they were the masters in those seas, and became the possessors of many charts used by Javanese, Malay, Chinese, and Arabian sailors. The great Albuquerque refers to a large chart of this description, which was afterwards lost at sea, but of which copies had been made by the pilot Rodriguez. It showed all the coasts and islands from China, the Spice Islands, and Java, to the Cape of Good Hope and Brazil. It is difficult to believe that the Javanese, Malays, Chinese, or Arabs had any knowledge of Brazil in South America, although the Malays and Arabs had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, coming from the east side, of course. I am inclined to think that the term Brazil mentioned by Albuquerque refers to Australia, which had been called Brasilie Regio from an early date—a date prior to the discovery of Brazil in the year 1500. See, on this subject, my paper in the proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia under the heading "Is Australia the Baptismal Font of Brazil?" Vol. VI., No. 1, Sydney, N.S.W.]
But, after all, until the very date of the expedition which resulted in the first discovery can be ascertained, the question of nationality of the first discoverers is a much more interesting one.
Having no other documentary evidence except these old charts, the first conclusion drawn was that as they are all written in French, the French were the discoverers in spite of the fact that no French claim had been made.
The late R. H. Major, the author of "Early Voyages to. Australia," having thoroughly considered the possibility of a French claim, came to the conclusion that such a claim was untenable. Being somewhat shaken, however, in his first belief of a Portuguese discovery, he was led to adopt a Provencal theory to explain certain words which on these old Gallicized charts, were neither Portuguese nor French. The whole subject was in this state of incertitude and confusion, when, a few years ago, having occasion to examine minutely these old documents, I discovered on the oldest of them a phrase in Portuguese, which, curiously enough, had escaped the notice of all the learned critics who had made a special study of this early specimen of cartography.
The phrase I had discovered, "Anda ne barcha," or "No boats go here," situated as it is in the Gulf of Carpentaria, had, in my mind, a very great significance, since it not only proves the Portuguese origin of the chart, but also the genuineness of the discovery made in that as it showed that the discoverers were fully aware of the shallowness of the water off this part of the coast of Australia.
It must be admitted however, that on the original chart the nautical phrase "Anda ne barcha," may refer to the difficulty of navigating the strait between Java and Bali, or the one between Bali and Lomboc.
When I say that this phrase proves the Portuguese origin of the chart, I do not mean to convey the idea that I accepted it, there and then, as a proof of Portuguese origin, but I rather took it as a clue, for the meaning of those words had evidently not been understood by the copyist, since he had left them in their original form, instead of translating them into French, and had mistaken them for the names of two islands.
This clue led me to make a special study of every word on the chart that had proved so interesting, the result being that I came to the conclusion that the western coasts of Australia had been chartered by the Portuguese, whereas the eastern coasts, which fell within the hemisphere allotted to the Spaniards, had been discovered and charted by them.
If we take for granted—and I think we may—that these charts are unquestionably of Portuguese and Spanish origin, the next point of importance that calls for our attention relates to the peculiar configuration, or, to be more precise, the strange distortion which all these specimens have undergone. This distortion is so great that one might fail to recognise Australia within the coast line set down, were it not for the general fitness of the terms used as descriptive of this coast line, terms which have been handed down to us in the course of the geographical evolution, and some of which are recorded in the very maps we use every day.
Moreover, we have the equally important fact that within the latitudes and longitudes charted, Australia does actually hold its place in the vast ocean around. See map of Australia and Jave-la-Grande compared, given here.
We must make great allowance for the measurement of longitudes as computed in the days when the first circumnavigators were called upon to determine whether the Moluccas fell within the Spanish or the Portuguese territory, for, after their return, the matter was as unsettled as ever.
Albeit, the errors of these charts are far more suggestive of deliberate distortion than, of inaccurate charting.
In describing Ribero's chart, I made some remark about Spanish distortions. I come now to the Portuguese ones, which refer to this subject.
For instance, the Portuguese, who were the first to make discoveries in these seas, must have been perfectly aware that the coasts they had charted lay more to the east, and if they dragged them out of position and placed them under Java as shown in these maps, it was in order to secure to themselves the lion's share, for their line of demarcation, as fixed by Pope Alexander, did not extend much beyond the east coast of Timor.*
[* A contemporaneous Spanish pilot named Juan Gaetan, of whom we have already heard in connection with the Spanish voyages on the north coast of New Guinea [see pages 25, 26, 28], and who aboard Portuguese ships navigated all the seas to the north of Australia, has put the following remarks on record with reference to Portuguese charts.
He says: "I saw and knew all their charts. They were all cunningly falsified, with longitudes and latitudes distorted, and land-features drawn in at places and stretched out at others to suit their purposes, etc., etc., and when they found out that I understood their little pranks they made strenuous efforts to get me to enlist in their service, and made me advantageous offers, which, however, I scorned to accept."—In Ramusio.]
They could not have believed that Timor was situated to the east of the peninsula, now known as York Peninsula, and clearly shown in these charts, nor that there was not an open sea to the south of Java since the first circumnavigators, returning to Spain from Timor, with the last ship of Magellan's fleet, sailed through it. (See track of their ship on map of Timor, p. 40.)
But the secret was so well kept, that seventy-eight years after Magellan's voyage round the world, Java and Australia were still believed to be one and the same continent by certain otherwise well-informed navigators, as will be seen by Linschoten's "Discours of Voyages into ye East and West Indies," published in London, in the year 1598, in which the following description, from Portuguese sources, occurs:
"South, south-east, right over against the last point or corner of the Isle of Sumatra, on the south, side of the equinoctial line, lyeth the island called JAUA MAIOR, or Great Java, where there is a strait or narrow passage, called the strait of Sunda, of a place so called, lying not far from thence within the Isle of Java. The island beginneth under 7 degrees on the south side, and runneth east and by south 150 miles long; but touching the breadth it is not found, because as yet it is not discovered, nor by the inhabitants themselves well known."
"Some think it to be firme land* and parcel of the countrie called TERRA INCOGNITA, which, being so, should reach from that place to the Cape de Bova Sperace [Cape of Good Hope]; but as [?] it is not certainly known, and, therefore, it is accounted an island."
[* The term implies continental land]
The above passage [shows?] that the author was uncertain as to whether Australia, which he calls the Great Java, was connected or not with ANTARCTICA, which he terms TERRA INCOGNITA; and his hesitation may be readily understood when we consider that some maps of the period disconnected Java-la-Grande from the TERRE AUSTRALLE INCOGNEUE; whereas others connected it with Kerguelen and Tierra del Fuego.
I shall say a few words now about the illuminations. They form a conspicuous feature in these old maps, and lend a great charm to such productions of a bygone age; it would be a useless task, however, to seek in these quaint devices a strict pourtrayal of the scenes appertaining to the countries they might be supposed to illustrate; to do so would be to forget their chief purpose, the decorative. But, allowing for the liberty usually granted to the artist, nay, often exacted by him, the scenes depicted are not borrowed from the realms of "Idealism" to the extent that has been supposed by certain commentators.
The kangaroo is not represented; no, nor the gum-tree either, perhaps! But that clump of bamboos* on the top of a hill is not a volcano in full eruption, as a learned critic once ventured to assert.
[* Bamboos are plentiful on the north-western coasts of Australia, planted, no doubt, by Malay fishermen in search of trepang, who from time immemorial frequented those shores.]
We see, on these charts, fairly correct presentments of that animal seen for the first time by the Spaniards in the straits to which Magellan gave his name, and described by the Italian narrator, Pigafetta, who accompanied the first circumnavigators.
Pigafetta says:— "This animal has the head and ears of a mule, the body of a camel, the legs of a stag, and the tail of a horse, and like this animal it neighs."
The animal thus described by Pigafetta is the Guanaco, Camelus huanacus, and it is not astonishing to find it represented on the Australian continent, for we know* that this continent was supposed to be connected with Tierra del Fuego and was sometimes called Magellanica, in consequence. In the chart that I am describing, Australia is called Jave-la-Grande—La Grande Jave would have been the proper French construction; but the term Jave-la-Grande is merely the translation of Java Maior, the Portuguese for Marco Polo's Java Major.
[* See remark above.]
The great Venetian traveller, Marco Polo, described Java from hearsay as being the largest island in the world, and the Portuguese finding this to be incorrect, as far as their knowledge of Java proper was concerned, but finding nevertheless, this "largest island in the world" to the south-east of Java, in fact, approximately in the longitudes and latitudes described by Polo; the Portuguese, I say, did the best thing they could both for Marco Polo's sake and their own, when they marked it on their charts where it was said to be, and with the name given to it by Polo, for he calls it Java Major to distinguish it from Sumatra, which island he named Java Minor.
The channel or river, marked between Java and Australia, is evidently a concession due to the fact that a passage was known to exist. This channel, which is left white in the chart I am describing, is painted over in the specimen dated 1550 [see map pp. 68-69], as though it were blocked, and two men are represented with pick and shovel as in the act of cutting it open.
Curiously enough, in both maps, the upper silhouette of the landscape in this part defines the real south shore of Java.
On the continental part, the Australian Alps, the range of hills on the western and north-western coast, and the great sandy interior of Australia, are also roughly sketched in. Was it all guess-work?
It will not be necessary, I think, to give an elaborate description of the place-names that occur on this map; those who wish to know more about them may consult my larger work on "The Discovery of Australia."
We need not dwell either on those that are inscribed along the northern shores of Java, well-known to the Portuguese twenty years at least before these maps were made.
The southern shores of Java are joined to Australia, or, at least, only separated from it by a fictitious river named Rio Grande, the Great River, which follows the sleek curve of the "pig's back" described by D. do Couto, the Portuguese historian.
In the Portuguese sphere some of the more salient features of the coast lines bear the following names:—
Terre ennegade. Ennegade has no possible meaning in French.
It is a corruption of Terra Anegada which means submerged land, or land over which the high tides flow considerably. It refers to a long stretch of shore at the entrance to King Sounds, where the tides cover immense tracts of country, and which has, in consequence, been called Shoal Bay.
Baye Bresille; Brazil Bay, corresponds with King Sound.
The islands on the western coast, known as Houtman's Abrolhos,* and those near Sharks' Bay, are all charted with the reefs that surround them, although they bear no names on this map.
[* Abrolhos is a Portuguese word applied to reefs; literally, it means "open your eyes."]
Lower down, there is a strange name, that has led to some stranger mistakes; it is LAMA, or LAME DE SYLLA, written HAME DE SILLE on another of these maps. It is a curious jumble that I have not been able to decipher; it occurs close to the mouth of the Swan River of modern charts.
Later French and Dutch map-makers took it for the name of an island in that locality.
Now, in those days, navigators and geographers were constantly in search of certain more or less fictitious islands, among which, the "Island of Men" and the "Island of Women," had been sought for in vain.
Could this be one of the lost islands? The old-fashioned letter s, resembling an f, made Hame de sille look like Hame de fille, and a French geographer jumped at the conclusion that the word was fille, and that he had found the long lost island.
He called it accordingly I. des Filles,* Island of Girls. The Dutch translated the name on their charts where a Meisje Eylandt may be seen; but, instead of the girls that they expected to see the island peopled with, they found it overrun by beautiful creatures, it is true, but, alas! of the small wallaby kind, peculiar to the outlying islands of Western Australia.
[* See Vangondy's map of Australia (1756).]
It goes without saying that they did not know of the term wallaby, and taking those pretty creatures for overgrown rats, they called the island Rat Island or Rat's Nest, and Rottnest is the Dutch form thereof, preserved to this day.
Let us now turn to the eastern shores of Australia, for we need not trouble about the southern shores as they are connected with the Antarctic continent.
We notice first, Simbana, one of the original names of the island of Sumbawa.
You will remember that there are several islands left out in Ribero's map [see pp. 28-29]. Now the principal one between Java and Timor is Sumbawa, and, strangely enough, we find that island grafted on here, and thus forming the northernmost part of York Peninsula, with Timor to the east of it in its actual position with reference to Sumbawa and smaller islands around, although out of place with reference to Australia. We next come to Coste Dangereuse, Dangerous Coast. It is situated in the locality of the Great Barrier Reef, not far from the spot where, nearly three hundred years later, Lieutenant Cook, in the Endeavour, was almost wrecked. The name speaks for itself; it appears along a coast lined with reefs, clearly shown on this map. Baye Perdue, Lost Bay, a broad bay with an island in mid-channel, the modern Broad Sound and Long Island. This name suggests a double voyage, a bay that was once discovered and could not be found again.*
[* Many years ago an old cannon, supposed to be of Spanish origin, was dug out of the sand a little to the south of Broad Sound, and near Port Curtis. It may be connected with this Lost Bay.]
R. de beaucoup d'isles; the letter R, in Spanish, meant either river or coast. This appellation refers to the locality of the Burnett river, where the coast is lined with numerous islands. The term may, therefore, mean either "coast of many islands," or "river of many islands." Coste des Herbaiges, Coast of Pastures; it has been suggested that this name gave rise to the term Botany Bay, chosen by Sir Joseph Banks,* instead of Stingeray Bay, given by Cook. The locality, however, corresponds to a stretch of coast further north than Botany Bay.
[* It will be remembered that this chart once belonged to Sir Joseph Banks. See above.]
PIERRE DESCELIERS' MAP.
This is a map of the same type as the one I have just described. It forms part of another large manuscript planisphere, draughted and illuminated by Pierre Desceliers, a priest of Argues near Havres, and it bears in bold characters an inscription to that effect with the date 1550.
At first sight the most, remarkable feature of this map is the display of descriptive matter contained in cartouches spread here and there between the illuminations. These, however, do not refer to Australia but are descriptive of such countries as Java, Sumatra, Pegu, Malacca, Ceylon, the Andaman Islands, etc.
The only illustrations which might be supposed to appertain to Australia are those not alluded to in the French text, a fact which suggests that the other, extraneous matter, has been interpolated.
The illustrations, not alluded to in the French text, may, therefore, have belonged to the prototypic map, such are the representations of trees, rough guniah-looking dwellings, guanacos, and those strange, huts on the western coast, which may have been inspired by some freak of nature as seen by Dampier on the same coast some hundred and thirty odd years after these charts were painted. Dampier says: "There were several things like haycocks standing in the Savannah, which at a distance we thought were houses, looking just like the Hottentots' houses at the Cape of Good Hope; but we found them to be so many rocks."
Dampier and his companions may have mistaken some anthills for rocks. Peron the French explorer describes some huge dome-shaped ant-hills seen on this coast, and Captain Pelsart, wrecked in 1629, also describes some ant-hills seen by him and his companions when in search of water on this same coast in latitude 22 degrees south.
In 1818, Allan Cunningham, when on the west coast of Australia, at the Bay of Rest, took occasion to measure one of these gigantic ant-hills of that coast. He found it to be eight feet in height, and twenty-six in girth.
Pelsart's account runs thus: "On the 16th of June, in the morning, they returned on shore in hopes of getting more water, but were disappointed; and having no time to observe the country it gave them no great hopes of better success, even if they had travelled further within land, which appeared a thirsty, barren plain, covered with ant-hills, so high that they looked afar off like the huts of negroes..."
Dampier in his second voyage to this coast in the year 1699, but more than one-hundred miles further south, describes again some of these evidently very remarkable features of the western coast of Australia. He says: "Here are a great many rocks in the large savannah we were in, which are five or six feet high and round at the top like a haycock, very remarkable; some red and some white." But Flinders, when on this coast, actually came across native huts similar to those depicted on P. Desceliers' chart of Australia.
His is another planisphere, of the same school of map-makers.
I give it here in its entirety, in order to show how the Australian portion stands, in all these maps, with reference to other countries.
It will be observed that, for accuracy, Australia compares favorably with, for instance, North America, named on this map, La Nouvelle France.
Besides its beautiful execution there is nothing to call for special notice unless it be that three Portuguese flags are shown as flying over Australian shores, a sure sign of annexation. The map-maker's name, Nicolas Desliens, date 1566, and Dieppe, the place where the map was made, are marked on a scroll right across the fictitious portion of Java-la-Grande.
In this short chapter, before leaving the subject of the old manuscript maps of Australia, and devoting the remaining pages of my book to actual voyages of discovery, I shall refer once more to the importance of the Lusitano-Spanish planispheres of the Dieppese school of cartography* because most of those documents, becoming the property of French map-makers, were used in various endeavours which were made to induce European sovereigns to colonize the Great South Land.
[*Most of these maps were made at Dieppe; all of them were made in the north of France.]
In the preceding pages I have only described the most important of these manuscript charts. The following is the list in chronological order of all the specimens known to exist:—
1. The Dauphin Chart 1530-36 2. N. Valiard's (so-called) 1539-49 3. Jean Roze's 1542 4. The Henri II. (of France) 1546 5. P. Desceliers' 1550 6. G. Le Testu's 1555 7. Desliens' 1566
MENDANA AND SARMIENTO DISCOVER THE SOLOMONS.
With the hope of making fresh discoveries and in pursuance of their object to establish a trade between the Spice Islands and their newly acquired colonies on the western shores of America, the Spaniards continued to send out expeditions whenever an opportunity offered.
Ever widening their sphere of action, they now looked forward to the southern regions of the Pacific Ocean as the land of promise, the El Dorado of their dreams; Saavedra's Isla de Oro and Retez's and Gaspar Rico's discoveries were not to be forgotten either.
It is in those regions that the legends and traditions of the times placed the islands from which King Solomon derived the gold and other treasures that served for the decoration of the temple of Jerusalem.
These legends, founded partly on historical events, and partly coupled with traditions handed down in the Royal Incarial families of Peru, seem to have given a powerful stimulus to Spanish enterprise in the South Pacific Ocean.
The hopes they gave rise to were, in addition, strengthened by the desire to discover the Great Southern Continent in a more effectual way than had hitherto been done: these prospects originated all the expeditions which, leaving the shores of South America, followed one after another in the same wake.
The Spaniards were now firmly established in Peru and it came to pass that a certain Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, a Spanish officer of unusual erudition in maritime and other matters, having collected and translated many historical documents, or guipus,* relating to the Incas, became aware that one of them, their wisest and greatest monarch, named Tupac Yupanqui, had made an extensive voyage by sea towards the setting sun, which lasted over twelve months, bringing back much treasure from the countries he had visited. During the course of this voyage Tupac had discovered two large islands, named Nina-Chumpi and Hahua-Chumpi, or Fire-Island and Outer-Island.
* The ancient Peruvians had a curious method of keeping tally of events. They had no alphabet, and instead of writing they made use of strings of various make, colour, and length, and, with the addition of knots, more or less complicated, were able to place on record any important event.
Sarmiento believed that he had obtained valuable information from the Incas and their guipus relative to these islands, which were also believed to be the outposts of a southern continent, and he thought that he could fix their position approximately.
In consequence, in the year 1567, he made a proposal for the re-discovery by the Spaniards of these distant lands. In one of his memorials to Philip II, he represented that he knew of many islands in the South Sea which were undiscovered by Europeans until his time, offering to undertake an expedition for their re-discovery with the approval of the Governor of Peru, who was then Lope Garcia de Castro.
Garcia de Castro willingly accepted Sarmiento's offer, and not only helped him in every way that lay in his power, but also offered him the sole command of the fleet. But, Sarmiento insisted that it should be entrusted to Alvaro de Mendana, a young nephew of Garcia de Castro.
This was probably a mistake on the part of Sarmiento, and was, no doubt, the cause of the failure of the expedition, and we may also attribute to his refusal of the sole command, the fact that his name has hitherto remained ignored not only in connection with this initiatory voyage, but also in connection with the further voyages of Mendana, Queiroz and Torres.
Sarmiento, however, stipulated that he should have the conduct of the discovery and navigation, and that no course should be altered without his consent.
The two ships of the expedition sailed from Callao, the port of Lima, in Peru, on the day of the feast of Santa Ysabel, the 19th of November, 1567, and Santa Ysabel became the patroness saint of the expedition.
Sarmiento intended to steer W.S.W. until he reached the tropic of Capricorn,* and this direction was kept until the 28th of November.
[* Sarmiento, and after him Torres, both endeavoured to keep in the latitude of the tropic of Capricorn. In the charts of the period a port or bay was marked on the coast of Java-Major in that latitude. See "Baye Perdue," in the Lusitano-Spanish charts.]
On that day the chief pilot, Hernando Gallego, altered the course without Sarmiento's permission, and in defiance of the instructions, being supported by Mendana in so doing.
So it happened that, notwithstanding Sarmiento's protests and constant remonstrances, Gallego and Mendana, persisted in this more northerly course for forty days, evidently with the intention of making for the better known seas that surround the Caroline and Philippine Islands.
Sarmiento constantly urged that the islands and continent that he was in search of were more to the south.
However, no land being sighted after many days, Mendana became alarmed and requested Sarmiento to resume charge of the navigation.
He did so, and ordered the course to be shaped W.S.W., announcing at the same time that land would be sighted on the next day, and this proved correct.
An island was discovered which received the name of Nombre-de-Jesus. It has been identified with Nukufetau, in the Ellice group.
They had been sixty-two days at sea and were sadly in want of a change of diet. Seventeen days later, they sighted the small islands and rocks which they called Baixos de la Candelaria, Candlemas Reefs; these have been identified with Lord Howe Islands, lately ceded to England by Germany.
On the 7th of February, they reached at last a large island called Atoglu by the natives. The Spaniards gave to it the name of the patroness saint of the voyage, Santa Ysabel.
Natives came off in crescent-shaped canoes to meet them.
They found a bay on the northern coast, and having noticed the planet Venus at 10 o'clock in the morning, they called this bay the Baya de la Estrella, the Bay of the Star, a name which has been restored to it in recent years.
They began at once to build a brigantine which had been taken out in pieces; in fifty-four days it was put together with the help of fresh timber obtained on the island.
Sarmiento then conducted a reconnoitering expedition inland, but met with hostility from the natives.
In the meanwhile, Gallego and Ortega, the camp-master, examined the coast on board the brigantine and discovered several other islands.*
[* Very little gold, if any, was found in the Solomon group.]
An expedition in search of the Great Southern Continent, or Java Maior, was also projected with the brigantine, but soon abandoned, as they found the little ship unsuitable for open sea work.
All the islands discovered were supposed to belong to the outlying islands situated to the east of New Guinea, and the inference, as we know, was not, far from the truth; it led, however, to a curious mistake, which I shall explain when describing the earliest map of the Solomon Islands, towards the end of next chapter.
In May, the expedition left Santa Ysabel, and after sighting many more islands of the group, they cast anchor off the coast of a large island which Gallego named Guadalcanal, after his own native place near Seville.
On the 19th and 22nd, Sarmiento and Mendana, accompanied by Ortega, made excursions into the interior, ascending a high mountain and enjoying a magnificent panorama. Afterwards a boat's crew was massacred by the natives, and Sarmiento was obliged to make severe reprisals.
In August, the expedition removed to another island which was named San Christobal, where they remained for forty days, refitting and taking in supplies, and here the brigantine, which had done such good service in exploring the shallow coasts, was abandoned.
Sarmiento now desired to return by way of the islands discovered by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui, and submitted a report to that effect on September the 4th, 1568.
But Mendana insisted upon steering east, and notwithstanding the remonstrances of many, he shaped a course for New Spain.
On the 23rd of January, 1569, they reached the port of Santiago de Colima, refitted at Realejo, and returned to Callao on September 2, after an absence of 19 months.
During the voyage there had been many disagreements, and Mendana intended to bring charges against Sarmiento when he arrived at Lima.
As little justice could be expected from the uncle in adjudicating on his nephew's conduct, Sarmiento considered it to be the wisest course to leave the ship at Realejo, and wait at Guatemala until Lope Garcia de Castro should be relieved of his command.
MENDANA IN SEARCH OF THE SOLOMON ISLANDS.
Twenty-six years had elapsed since the Sarmiento-Mendana voyage, and now Mendana was sent out again with instructions to found a colony at the island of San Christobal, in the Solomon Group; and from thence to make another attempt to discover the Great Southern Continent, the Java Maior, that formed such a conspicuous feature on the maps of the period, and was beginning to attract the attention of other countries besides Spain.
Mendana's fleet was composed of three large vessels and a frigate.
Pedro Fernandez de Queiroz was his captain and chief pilot; the other officers were Lope de Vega, Felipe Corzo, and Alenzo de Leyva.
As it was intended to settle a colony, many took their wives with them, and amongst these were: Da. Isabel de Barreto, Mendana's wife, and Da. Mariana de Castro, the wife of Lope de Vega.
They set sail from Callao on the 9th of April, 1595, and, after discovering the Marquesas, and a few smaller islands, they sighted land on September the 7th, which Mendana believed, at first, to be the Solomons, of which he was in quest.
They soon found out their mistake, and named the island Santa Cruz. To the northward of this island was seen a most remarkable volcano in full eruption.* The frigate was ordered to sail round it to search for Lope de Vega's ship, which had parted company some time previously.
[* Tinacula Volcano, in eruption at the present day.]
They thought that she might have passed to the north, but the hopes of seeing her again were very faint.
Mendana continued near the north coast of Santa Cruz, searching for a port, and was rejoined there by the frigate, which returned without any tidings of Lope de Vega and his ship.
At last a port was discovered where the ships anchored in smooth water, close to the shore.
On the 21st of September, they found a better port, which Mendana named La Graciosa, for it was very beautiful, larger and more commodious than the one where they were first anchored. A river of moderate size and a copious stream of very clear water gushing from beneath some rocks was found in proximity to the anchorage. Here an attempt at colonisation was made, but what with the hostility of the natives, sickness, and a mutinous spirit, the young colony did not progress favorably. To make matters worse, Mendana himself fell ill and died, and the grand scheme which, under favourable circumstances, might have resulted in the foundation of a Spanish Australian Empire, was, perforce, abandoned for the while. The remnant of this disastrous expedition, having repaired to the Philippine Islands, returned to New Spain in the year 1596.
AN EARLY MAP OF THE SOLOMONS ISLANDS.
The discovery of true Solomon Islands was soon forgotten and Mendana's vague notions about them led historians and geographers astray as to their position and size.*
[* In a map of the South Sea, Mar del Zur, published towards the year 1650, the Solomon Islands are represented as extending in a sweeping curve, resembling their natural trend it is true, but the position is from the locality of New Caledonia and New Zealand, right across the Pacific Ocean to the south of Cape Horn. In that distance 40 islands are represented, of an average size equal to the two large islands of New Zealand, truly a magnificent mistake!]
In the few old maps that exist, it is difficult to determine precisely in what measure the members of the expedition are responsible for the charting; some of it is certainly the guesswork of geographers, based, it must be acknowledged, on the best information then available, for we must bear in mind that the accounts of Mendana's expedition were only known from a few extracts, the actual narratives being lost at the time these charts were draughted.
Now that some of those narratives have been found, it is easy to identify the present day Solomon Islands with the group discovered by the Spaniards; most of the latitudes in the old chart that I give here, agree with those given by Herrera, the Spanish historian, which shows that if they have been thrown out of position, as they are on some old charts, it is through the fault of the map-makers.
The map given here is by Mazza, an Italian geographer of distinction; it is the earliest one that I have been able to procure, the earliest known to exist, the date being between 1583 and 1589.
I have marked on it the probable track of the ships; the first bay where they anchored, and which was called Baya de la Estrella, is marked by No. 1. The second anchorage, on the coast of Guadalcanal, marked No. 2, was named Puerto de la Cruz; and the locality where the third sojourn was made, and where the brigantine was abandoned, is marked by the No. 3.
The island thus marked, bears no name on the map; it is the southernmost large island, however, and corresponds therefore with San Christobal, where the third and last sojourn was made, and where, at a later period, a colony was to have been founded.
The island bearing the name Nombre de Jesus, is misnamed, evidently as the result of interference on the part of the cartographer, for, according to the narrative, it lies at many days' sail from the first land sighted in the Solomon Group, and has been identified, as I have said before, with Nukufetau in the Ellice Group.
Other mistakes of the map-maker are, Amacifre instead of Arecifes reefs; and Maiulata for Malaita. Malaita, however, is a mistake of the Spaniards, for the natives call their island Mala and ita means "here"; as one might say, "here is Mala."
The curious mistake alluded to on page 63 is this:
In most of the old maps that were made prior to the identification of Sarmiento's and Mendana's discoveries, the Solomon Islands were placed much too close to New Guinea, occupying, in fact, the position of New Britain and New Ireland. This was owing to the belief on the part of the Spaniards, that they had reached the region where their predecessors, Saavedra, Retez and Gaspar Rico, had made their discoveries: so that, New Britain, New Ireland, and all the other islands, of the Bismark Archipelago were once believed to be the Solomon and Guadalcanal the extreme east end of New Guinea.
We come now to the most important expedition that ever set out in search of Australia. We have reached the year 1605, in the month of December, of which Queiroz, this time the commander of another Spanish fleet, set sail from the coast of Peru with the object of renewing the attempt at settlement in the island of Santa Cruz, and from thence to search, for the "continent towards the south," which he believed to be "spacious, populous and fertile."
The intentions of navigators and the instructions given to them are seldom thoroughly carried out. We shall see, in this case, that Queiroz failed to reach Santa Cruz in the same way as Mendana had failed to reach the Solomans; although they both sailed almost within sight of the islands they were looking for.
According to Gonzales de Leza, the pilot of the expedition, the name of the Capitana, or Queiroz's ship, was the San Pedro y San Pablo; the Almiranta, named the San Pedro was commanded by Luis Vaes de Torres; the brigantine or Zabra, was named the Tres Reyes, and was commanded by Pedro Bernal Cermeno.
With variable winds, the three ships that composed the fleet sailed towards the west till the 26th of January, 1606, when, in the afternoon, they sighted a small island. No anchorage could be found and it was thought that it could not be inhabited, so they passed it. Continuing on a westerly course three days later, they came in sight of another island of larger dimensions; here, also, finding no convenient landing place, they passed on.
The sky now became obscured, and, as they proceeded, rain set in, followed by thunder and lightning; then a fearful tempest threatened their destruction.
Presently, however, the storm abated, and through a rift in the clouds they perceived land and made for it.
They found it to be an island about thirty leagues in circumference, apparently an atoll, for it was described as having "a lagoon inside," and was surrounded by a coral reef. Here they wanted to get wood and water, but finding no entrance or bay they had to abandon their attempt.
They continued their course, and the next day, 5th of February, they came in sight of four other islands of the same description, and all equally inaccessible.
They passed them, keeping on a westerly and north westerly course, passing several other islands, all unfavourable to their purpose.
At last being in 18 deg. 40' south, they passed the day with some rain, and the next day, 10th of February, from the topmast head a sailor cried out, "Land-a-head."
It is strange how all the early navigators, Magellan, Sarmiento, Mendana, Queiroz and many others, always managed to steer clear of the larger islands that spread like a net across the South Pacific Ocean, and either found an open sea, or hit upon some insignificant atoll.
From a careful study of the various narratives of this voyage it is evident that Queiroz had just sailed an the outskirts of the Tuamotu or Low Archipelago, and was now nearing Tahiti, which island however, he never set foot on.*
[* Many writers have erroneously identified Queiroz's "Conversion de San Pablo," Torqamada's "Sagitaria," with Tahiti. Sagitaria is Makatea or Aurocra Island of the modern chart, and Conversion de San Pablo is Anaa, or Chain Island, about 200 miles east of Tahiti, in the same latitude.]
At the announcement of "Land-a-head" their joy was great, for in several places they saw columns of smoke arising, which was a clear sign of inhabitants, whence they concluded that all their sufferings were at an end.
They bore down to the land on the northern side; but finding no harbour, the Capitana endeavoured to beat up against the wind and pass along the island again, but in vain.
Queiroz then detached the smallest vessel, or brigantine, to look for a port, while the two other vessels lay alongside of each other in sight of the land.
The brigantine cast anchor near the coast, "in ten fathoms, stones and coral."
The commander then gave orders to man the armed boats, and then made to shore. As they approached the land the Spaniards saw about a hundred natives inviting them, by signs of friendship, to land and go to them, but it was not practicable to make good their landing, the waves broke with such fury upon the rocks, that all their efforts proved ineffectual.
The enterprise was abandoned with the more regret, as the fleet began to be in want of fresh water, and they had come to the sad conclusion that they had nothing to do but to return, when a young sailor, full of fire and courage, braving the danger, and generously devoting himself for the honor of the expedition, and the preservation of his companions, stripped off his clothes, threw himself into the sea, and swam to the rocks.
The natives, struck by this act of courage, went into the water to his assistance, took him in their arms, embraced him affectionately, and received him with all manners of caresses, which his gratitude abundantly returned.
His example was soon imitated by several Spaniards, who passed the breakers, and were received by the islanders with the same testimonies of sensibility and affection. These brave savages were all armed: some carried lances of twenty-five or thirty palms in length; some a sort of sabres, and others stone-headed clubs; all these weapons were of wood.
These islanders were tall, with dark brown skins and bodies well proportioned; their habitations were scattered irregularly on the sea-shore, among palms and other trees which abounded in the island. On the fruits of these, together with the produce of their fishing, the inhabitants subsisted.
When night came on the Spaniards swam back to their boats; some natives followed them, and were treated with those marks of friendship which their generosity deserved: presents were also added; but they could not ever be prevailed upon to go on board the brigantine; instead of that they plunged into the water in order to return to shore.
During the night the vessels drifted considerably, and at eleven in the morning had lost eight leagues, but were still within sight of land; they were now in hopes of being able to get water there. They sent out the boats to seek for a river; and as the appearance of the shore gave no promise of anchorage, the vessels lay-to alongside of each other as before.
The waves broke upon the coast with such violence, that it was impossible to attempt making the rock without risking the loss of boats and men; the sailors, therefore, threw themselves into the water, and by dint of industry and efforts, were enabled to raise their boats, and fix them on some rocks which were dry at low tide.
Having thus secured their boats, the Spaniards visited two small plantations of palms, cocoanut and other useful trees which were near the place where they had landed; but all their endeavours to discover fresh water were fruitless.