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Discoveries in Australia, Volume 1. by J Lort Stokes

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Produced by Sue Asscher






IN THE YEARS 1837-38-39-40-41-42-43.















I cannot allow these volumes to go before the public, without expressing
my thanks to the following gentlemen for assistance, afforded to me in
the course of the composition of this work: To Captain Beaufort, R.N.,
F.R.S., Hydrographer to the Admiralty, for his kindness in furnishing me
with some of the accompanying charts; to Sir John Richardson, F.R.S; J.E.
Gray, Esquire, F.R.S.; E. Doubleday, Esquire, F.L.S., and A. White,
Esquire, M.E.S., for their valuable contributions on Natural History, to
be found in the Appendix; to J. Gould, Esquire, F.R.S., for a list of
birds collected during the voyage of the Beagle; to Lieutenants Gore and
Fitzmaurice, for many of the sketches which illustrate the work; and to
B. Bynoe, Esquire, F.R.C.S., for several interesting papers which will be
found dispersed in the following pages.

Captain Owen Stanley, R.N., F.R.S., also merits my warmest thanks, for
the important addition to the work of his visits to the Islands in the
Arafura Sea.

I have to explain, that when the name Australasia is used in the
following pages, it is intended to include Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land)
and all the islands in the vicinity of the Australian continent.

All bearings and courses, unless it is specified to the contrary, are
magnetic, according to the variation during the period of the Beagle's

The longitudes are generally given from meridians in Australia, as I much
question whether any portion of the continent is accurately determined
with reference to Greenwich. Sydney, Port Essington, and Swan River, have
been the meridians selected; and the respective positions of those
places, within a minute of the truth, I consider to be as follows:

Swan River (Scott's Jetty, Fremantle) 115 degrees 47 minutes East.

Port Essington (Government house) 132 degrees 13 minutes East.

Sydney (Fort Macquarie) 151 degrees 16 minutes East.



Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.


Sail from Plymouth.
The Eight Stones.
Peak of Tenerife.
Approach to Santa Cruz.
La Cueva de Los Guanches.
Trade with Mogadore.
Intercourse between Mogadore and Mombas.
Reason to regret Mombas having been given up.
Sail from Tenerife.
Search for rocks near the equator.
Arrival at San Salvador.
Appearance of Bahia.
State of the Country.
Slave Trade.
And results of Slavery.
Extension of the Slave Trade on the eastern coast of Africa.
Moral condition of the Negroes.
Middy's Grave.
Departure from Bahia.
Mr. "Very Well Dice".


A gale.
Anchor in Simon's Bay.
H.M.S. Thalia.
Captain Harris, and his Adventures in Southern Africa.
Proceedings of the Land Party.
Leave Simon's Bay.
An overloaded ship.
Heavy weather and wet decks.
Island of Amsterdam.
Its true longitude.
St. Paul's.
Westerly variation.
Rottnest Island.
Gage's Road.
Swan River Settlement.
An inland lake.
Plans for the future.
Illness of Captain Wickham.
Tidal Phenomena.
Approach to it.
Narrow escape of the first settlers.
The Darling Range.
Abundant Harvest.
Singular flight of strange birds.
Curious Cliff near Swan River.
Bald Head.
Mr. Darwin's Theory.
The Natives.
Anecdotes of Natives.
Their Superstitions.
Barbarous traditions, their uses and their lessons.


Sail from Gage's Road.
Search for a bank.
Currents and soundings.
Houtman's Abrolhos.
Fruitless search for Ritchie's Reef.
Indications of a squall.
Deep sea soundings.
Atmospheric Temperature.
A squall.
Anchor off the mouth of Roebuck Bay.
A heavy squall.
Driven from our anchorage.
Cape Villaret.
Anchor in Roebuck Bay.
Excursion on shore.
Visit from the Natives.
Mr. Bynoe's account of them.
A stranger among them.
Captain Grey's account of an almost white race in Australia.
Birds, Snakes, and Turtle.
Move the Ship.
Miago, and the Black Fellows.
The wicked men of the North.
Clouds of Magellan.
Face of the Country.
Heat and Sickness.
Miago on shore.
Mr. Usborne wounded.
Failure in Roebuck Bay.
Native notions.


Departure from Roebuck Bay.
Appearance of the Country.
Progress to the northward.
Hills and Cliffs.
French Names and French Navigators.
Tasman, and his account of the Natives.
Hazeygaeys and Assagais.
His Authenticity as an Historian.
Description of the Natives.
Marks and mutilations.
Phrenological Development.
Moral condition.
Proas, Canoes, and Rafts.
Another squall.
Anchor in Beagle Bay.
Face of the Country.
Palm Trees.
Hauling the Seine.
A meeting with Natives.
Eastern Salutation.
Miago's conduct towards, and opinion of, his countrymen.
Mutilation of the Hand.
Native smokes seen.
Move further to the North-East.
Point Emeriau.
Cape Leveque.
Point Swan.
Search for water.
Encountered by Natives.
Return to the Ship.
The attempt renewed.
Conduct of the Natives.
Effect of a Congreve Rocket after dark.
A successful haul.
More Natives.
Miago's Heroism.
The plague of Flies.
Dampier's description of it.
Native Habitations.
Wind and weather.
Tidal Phenomenon.
Natural History.
Singular Kangaroo.
Cinnamon Kangaroo.
Goanas and Lizards.
Ant Hills.
Fishing over the side.
A day in the Bush.
A flood of fire.
Soil and Productions.
White Ibis.
Curious Tree.
Rain water.
Geology of the Cliffs.
Weigh, and graze a Rock, or Touch and go.
The Twins.
Sunday Strait.
Roe's Group.
Miago and his friends.
A black dog.
A day of rest.
Native raft.
Captain King and the Bathurst.
A gale.
Point Cunningham.
Successful search for water.
Native estimation of this fluid.
Discovery of a Skeleton.
And its removal.
The grey Ibis.
Our parting legacy.


Survey the Coast to Point Cunningham.
Move the Ship.
Southern View of King's Sound.
Singular vitreous Formation.
Move to the south of Point Cunningham.
Captain King's limit.
Termination of Cliffy Range.
Disaster Bay.
An Exploring Party leave in the boats.
The shore.
A freshwater lake.
Valentine Island.
Native Fire and Food.
A heavy squall.
The wild Oat.
Indications of a River.
Point Torment.
Gouty-stem Tree and Fruit.
Limits of its growth.
Another squall.
Water nearly fresh alongside.
The Fitzroy River.
Tide Bore and dangerous position of the Yawl.
Ascent of the Fitzroy.
Appearance of the adjacent land.
Return on foot.
Perilous situation and providential escape.
Survey the western shore.
Return to the Ship.
Sporting, Quail and Emus.
Ship moved to Point Torment.


Examination of the Fitzroy River.
Excursion into the interior.
Alarm of the Natives.
Ascent of the River.
Sufferings from Mosquitoes.
Red Sandstone.
Natives again surprised.
Appearance of the Country.
Impediments in the River.
Return of the boats.
An Alligator.
Stokes' Bay.
Narrow escape of an Officer.
Change of Landscape.
A new Vine.
Compass Hill.
Port Usborne.
Explore the eastern shore of King's Sound.
Cone Bay.
Native Fires.
Whirlpool Channel.
Group of Islands.
Sterile aspect of the Coast.
Visited by a Native.
Bathurst Island.
Native Hut and Raft.
Return to Port Usborne.
Native Spears.
Cascade Bay.
Result of Explorations in King's Sound.
Interview with Natives.
Coral Reefs.
Discover Beagle Bank.
Arrival at Port George the Fourth.
Examination of Collier Bay in the boats.
Brecknock Harbour.
The Slate Islands.
Freshwater Cove.
An Eagle shot.
Its singular nest.
Rock Kangaroos.
A Conflagration.
Sandstone Ridges.
Doubtful Bay.
Mouth of the Glenelg.
Remarkable Tree.
Fertile Country near Brecknock Harbour.
Return to the Ship.
Meet with Lieutenant Grey.
His sufferings and discoveries.
Visit the Encampment.
Timor Ponies.
Embarkation of Lieutenant Grey's Party.
Sail from Port George the Fourth.
Remarks on position of Tryal Rock.
Anecdotes of Miago.
Arrival at Swan River.
Directions for entering Owen's Anchorage.


Miago's reception by his countrymen.
Whale Fishery.
Strange ideas entertained by Natives respecting the first Settlers.
Neglected state of the Colony.
Test security of Owen's Anchorage.
Celebration of the Anniversary of the Colony.
Friendly meeting between different Tribes.
Native beggars.
Personal vanity of a Native.
Visit York.
Description of Country.
Site of York.
Scenery in its neighbourhood.
Disappointment experienced.
Sail from Swan River.
Hospitality of Colonists during our stay.
Aurora Australis.
Gale off Cape Leeuwen.
Stormy passage.
Ship on a lee shore.
South-west Cape of Tasmania.
Bruny Island Lighthouse.
Arrive at Hobart.
Mount Wellington.
Kangaroo Hunt.
White Kangaroo.
Civility from the Governor.
Travertine Limestone.
Leave Hobart.
Singular Current.
Appearance of Land in the neighbourhood of Sydney.
Position of Lighthouse.
Entrance and first view of Port Jackson.
Scenery on passing up the Harbour.
Meet the Expedition bound to Port Essington.
Apparent increase of Sydney.
Cause of Decline.
Expedition sails for Port Essington.
Botany Bay.
La Perouse's Monument.
Meet Captain King.
Appearance of Land near Sydney.


Leave Sydney.
Enter Bass Strait.
Island at Eastern entrance.
Wilson's Promontory.
Cape Shanck.
Enter Port Phillip.
Commence Surveying Operations.
First Settlement.
Escaped Convict.
His residence with the Natives.
Sail for King Island.
Examine Coast to Cape Otway.
King Island.
Meet Sealers on New Year Islands.
Franklin Road.
Solitary Residence of Captain Smith.
Advantageous position for a Penal Settlement.
Leafless appearance of Trees.
Examine West Coast.
Fitzmaurice Bay.
Stokes' Point.
Seal Bay.
Geological Formation.
Examine Coast to Sea Elephant Rock.
Brig Rock.
Cross the Strait to Hunter Island.
Strong Tide near Reid's Rocks.
Three Hummock Island.
The Black Pyramid.
Point Woolnorth.
Raised Beach.
Coast to Circular Head.
Headquarters of the Agricultural Company.
Capture of a Native.
Mouth of the Tamar River.
Return to Port Phillip.
West Channel.
Yarra-yarra River.
Custom of Natives.
Visit Geelong.
Station Peak.
Aboriginal Names.
South Channel.
Examine Western Port.
Adventure with a Snake.
Black Swans.
Cape Patterson.
Deep Soundings.
Revisit King and Hunter Islands.
Circular Head.
Gales of Wind.
Reid's Rocks.
Sea Elephant Rock.
Wild Dogs.
Navarin and Harbinger Reefs.
Arrive at Port Phillip.
Sail for Sydney.
Pigeon House.
Mr. Usborne leaves.


Leave Sydney.
Gale and Current.
Port Stephens.
River Karuah.
Wild Cattle.
Incivility of a Settler.
River Allyn.
Mr. Boydell.
Cultivation of Tobacco.
A clearing Lease.
William River.
Crossing the Karuah at Night.
Sail from Port Stephens.
Breaksea Spit.
Discover a Bank.
Cape Capricorn.
Northumberland Isles.
Cape Upstart.
Discover a River.
Raised Beach.
Section of Barrier Reef.
Plants and Animals.
Magnetical Island.
Halifax Bay.
Height of Cordillera.
Fitzroy Island.
Hope Island.
Verifying Captain King's Original Chart.
Cape Bedford.
New Geological Feature.
Lizard Island.
Captain Cook.
Barrier and Reefs within.
Howick Group.
Noble Island.
Cape Melville.
Reef near Cape Flinders.
Princess Charlotte's Bay.
Section of a detached Reef.
Tide at Claremont Isles.
Restoration Island.
Islands fronting Cape Grenville.
Boydan Island.
Correct Chart.
Cairncross Island.
Escape River.
Correct position of Reefs.
York Isles.
Torres Strait.
Endeavour Strait.
Booby Island.
Remarks on Barrier and its contiguous Islands and Reefs.
Cape Croker and reef off it.
Discover error in longitude of Cape.
Reefs at the mouth of Port Essington.
Arrive at the latter.


Port Essington.
Bearings from shoals in the Harbour.
Appearance of the Settlement.
Meet Captain Stanley.
Point Record.
Prospects of the Settlement.
Buffaloes escape.
Fence across neck of Peninsula.
Lieutenant P.B. Stewart explores the Country.
Uses of Sand.
Tumuli-building Birds.
Beautiful Opossum.
Wild Bees.
Escape from an Alligator.
Result of Astronomical Observations.
Geological Formation.
Raffles Bay.
Leave Port Essington.
Popham Bay.
Detect error in position of Port Essington.
Melville Island.
Discover a Reef in Clarence Strait.
Cape Hotham.
Native Huts and Clothing.
Geological Formation.
Discover the Adelaide River.
Interview with Natives.
Attempt to come on board.
Messrs. Fitzmaurice and Keys nearly speared.
Exploration of the Adelaide.
Its capabilities.
Another party ascends the Adelaide.
Meet Natives.
Visit Melville Island.
Green Ants.
Thoughts of taking ship up Adelaide abandoned.
Tides in Dundas Strait.
Return to Port Essington.
H.M.S. Pelorus arrives with Provisions.
Further remarks on the Colony.


Leave Port Essington.
Reach Timor Laut.
Meet Proas.
Chief Lomba.
Traces of the Crew of the Charles Eaton.
Their account of the wreck and sojourn on the Island.
Captain King's account of the Rescue of the Survivors.
Boy Ireland's relation of the sufferings and massacre of the Crew.
Appearance of the shores of Timor Laut.
Description of the Inhabitants.
Village of Oliliet.
Curious Houses.
Remarkable Ornaments.
Visit the Oran Kaya.
Burial Islet.
Supplies obtained.
Gunpowder in request as Barter.
Proceed to the Arru Islands.
Dobbo Harbour.
Present to Chief.
Birds of Paradise.
Chinaming Junks' bottoms.
Character of Natives.
Some of them profess Christianity.
Visit the Ki Islands.
Village of Ki Illi.
How protected.
Place of Worship.
Cultivation of the eastern Ki.
No anchorage off it.
Visit Ki Doulan.
Antique Appearance of.
Luxuriant Vegetation.
Employment of Natives.
Defences of the place.
Carvings on gateway.
Civility of Chief.
His Dress.
Population of the Ki Group.
Their Religion.
Place of Interment.
Agility of Australian Native.
Anchorage off Ki Doulan.
Island of Vordate.
Visit from Chief.
Excitement of Natives.
Their Arms and Ornaments.
Carved Horns on Houses.
Alarm of the Oran Kaya.
Punishment of the Natives of Laarat by the Dutch.
Revisit Oliliet.
Discover that Mr. Watson had rescued the European Boy.
Return to Port Essington.
Mr. Watson's Proceedings at Timor Laut.



List of Birds, collected by the Officers of H.M.S. Beagle.

Descriptions of Six Fish. By Sir John Richardson. M.D., F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of some New Australian Reptiles. By J.E. Gray, Esquire
F.R.S. etc.

Descriptions of new or unfigured Species of Coleoptera from Australia. By
Adam White, Esquire M.E.S.

Descriptions of some new or imperfectly characterized Lepidoptera from
Australia. By E. Doubleday, Esquire F.L.S.








I.R. Fitzmaurice del.

G. GORE del. London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.


Natural size.



1/24th of the usual size.




South-South-East Six Miles.


Horizontal Scale of 20 miles. Vertical Scale of 2000 feet.
A. Cape Upstart, 2000 feet high.
B. Bay within 3 fathoms deep.
C. Raised bed of coral and shells, 12 feet high.
D. Depth 17 fathoms, fine grey sand and shells.
E. 27 fathoms, grey sandy mud or marl, which after exposure to the air
becomes very hard.
F. 32 fathoms, coarse sand.
G. Great Barrier Reef, outer part uncertain, being taken from the width
of it near
H. No bottom, with 200 fathoms.
I. Level of sea at high-water; rise of tide 7 feet.

G. Gore del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.

West-North-West 35 Miles.

The point C (on the edge of the reef C) stands two feet above waterline
G, and the point D 1 1/2 feet above it. The depth of water in the lagoon
exaggerated in section. Figures on line denote depth of water in feet
beneath. G level of sea in a mean state.



O. Stanley del.
London, Published by T. & W. Boone, 1846.


Cristiceps axillaris.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Balistes phaleratus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Assiculus punctatus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

FISHES. PLATE 2. FIGURES 6, 7, 8, 9. Natural size.
Scorpaena stokesii.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Smaris porosus.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.

Chelmon marginalis.
Drawn on Stone by W. Mitchell. Hullmandel & Walton Lithographers.


Silubosaurus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Egernia cunninghami.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Hydrus stokesii.
Day & Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen.

Gonionotus plumbeus.
W. Wing Litho. C. Hullmandel's Patent.


INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 1, 1a, 1b and 1c. Megacephala Australasiae,

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 2 and 2a. Aenigma cyanipenne, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 3, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e and 3f. Calloodes
grayianus, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 4, and 4a. Biphyllocera kirbyana, White.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 5. Cetonia (Diaphonia) notabilis.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 6. Stigmodera elegantula.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 7. Stigmodera erythrura.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURE 8. Stigmodera saundersii, Hope.

INSECTS. PLATE 1. FIGURES 9, 9a, and 9b. Clerus ? obesus.



Objects of the Voyage.
The Beagle commissioned.
Her former career.
Her first Commander.
Instructions from the Admiralty and the Hydrographer.
Officers and Crew.
Arrival at Plymouth.
Embark Lieutenants Grey and Lushington's Exploring Party.
Chronometric Departure.
Farewell glance at Plymouth.
Death of King William the Fourth.

For more than half a century, the connection between Great Britain and
her Australian possessions has been one of growing interest; and men of
the highest eminence have foreseen and foretold the ultimate importance
of that vast continent, over which, within the memory of living man, the
roving savage held precarious though unquestioned empire.

Of the Australian shores, the North-western was the least known, and
became, towards the close of the year 1836, a subject of much
geographical speculation. Former navigators were almost unanimous in
believing that the deep bays known to indent a large portion of this
coast, received the waters of extensive rivers, the discovery of which
would not only open a route to the interior, but afford facilities for
colonizing a part of Australia, so near our East Indian territories, as
to render its occupation an object of evident importance.

His Majesty's Government therefore determined to send out an expedition
to explore and survey such portions of the Australian coasts as were
wholly or in part unknown to Captains Flinders and King.


For this service H.M. Sloop Beagle was commissioned at Woolwich, in the
second week of February 1837 by Commander Wickham, who had already twice
accompanied her in her wanderings over the least known and most
boisterous waters of the globe; first, in her sister ship of discovery,
the Adventure, Captain King, and afterwards as first lieutenant of the
sloop now entrusted to his command. Under Captain Wickham some of the
most important objects of the voyage were achieved, but in consequence of
his retirement in March 1841, owing to ill health, the command of the
Beagle was entrusted to the author of the following pages; and as, by a
singular combination of circumstances, no less than three long and
hazardous voyages of discovery have been successfully completed in this
vessel, some account of her here may not be wholly uninteresting. The
reader will be surprised to learn that she belongs to that much-abused
class, the 10-gun brigs--COFFINS, as they are not infrequently designated
in the service; notwithstanding which, she has proved herself, under
every possible variety of trial, in all kinds of weather, an excellent
sea boat. She was built at Woolwich in 1819, and her first exploit was
the novel and unprecedented one of passing through old London bridge (the
first rigged man-of-war that had ever floated so high upon the waters of
the Thames) in order to salute at the coronation of King George the


Towards the close of the year 1825 she was first commissioned by
Commander Pringle Stokes,* as second officer of the expedition which
sailed from Plymouth on the 22nd of May, 1826, under the command of
Captain Phillip Parker King; an account of which voyage, published by
Captain R. Fitzroy, who ultimately succeeded to the vacancy occasioned by
the lamented death of Captain Stokes, and who subsequently commanded the
Beagle during her second solitary, but most interesting expedition--has
added to the well-earned reputation of the seaman, the more enduring
laurels which literature and science can alone supply.

(*Footnote. Not related to the author.)


Though painful recollections surround the subject, it would be hardly
possible to offer an account of the earlier history of the Beagle, and
yet make no allusion to the fate of her first commander, in whom the
service lost, upon the testimony of one well qualified to judge, "an
active, intelligent, and most energetic officer:" and well has it been
remarked by the same high authority, "that those who have been exposed to
one of such trials as his, upon an unknown lee shore, during the worst
description of weather, will understand and appreciate some of those
feelings which wrought too powerfully upon his excitable mind." The
constant and pressing cares connected with his responsible commanded--the
hardships and the dangers to which his crew were of necessity exposed
during the survey of Tierra del Fuego--and in some degree the awful gloom
which rests forever on that storm-swept coast--finally destroyed the
equilibrium of a mind distracted with anxiety and shattered by disease.

Perhaps no circumstance could prove more strongly the peculiar
difficulties connected with a service of this nature, nor could any more
clearly testify that in this melancholy instance every thought of
self-preservation was absorbed by a zeal to promote the objects of the
expedition, which neither danger, disappointment, anxiety, nor disease
could render less earnest, or less vigilant, even to the last!

The two vessels returned to England in October, 1830, when the Adventure
was paid off at Woolwich, and the Beagle at Plymouth; she was
recommissioned by Captain Fitzroy--to whose delightful narrative allusion
has been already made--on the 4th July, 1831,* and continued under his
command till her return to Woolwich in November, 1836; where, after
undergoing some slight repairs, she was a third time put in commission
for the purposes of discovery, under Commander Wickham, her former first
lieutenant; and shortly afterwards commenced that third voyage, of the
toils and successes of which, as an humble contribution to the stores of
geographical knowledge, I have attempted in the following pages to convey
as faithful and complete an account as the circumstances under which the
materials have been prepared will allow. Nor will the subject less
interest myself, when I call to mind, that for eighteen years the Beagle
has been to me a home upon the wave--that my first cruise as a Middy was
made in her; that serving in her alone I have passed through every grade
in my profession to the rank I have now the honour to hold--that in her I
have known the excitements of imminent danger, and the delights of long
anticipated success; and that with her perils and her name are connected
those recollections of early and familiar friendship, to which even
memory herself fails to do full justice!

(*Footnote. The Beagle was stripped to her timbers, and rebuilt under
this able officer's own inspection: and among other improvements, she had
the lightning conductors of the well-known Snow Harris, Esquire, F.R.S.
fitted to her masts; a circumstance to which she has more than once been
indebted for her safety.)


The following instructions were received by Captain Wickham, previous to
our departure from Woolwich, and under them I subsequently acted.


Whereas his Majesty's surveying vessel, Beagle, under your command, has
been fitted out for the purpose of exploring certain parts of the
north-west coast of New Holland, and of surveying the best channels in
the straits of Bass and Torres, you are hereby required and directed, as
soon as she shall be in all respects ready, to repair to Plymouth Sound,
in order to obtain a chronometric departure from the west end of the
breakwater, and then to proceed, with all convenient expedition, to Santa
Cruz, in Tenerife.

In the voyage there, you are to endeavour to pass over the reputed site
of the Eight Stones, within the limits pointed out by our Hydrographer;
but keeping a strict lookout for any appearance of discoloured water, and
getting a few deep casts of the lead.

At Tenerife you are to remain three days, for the purpose of rating the
chronometers, when you are to make the best of your way to Bahia, in
order to replenish your water, and from thence to Simon's Bay, at the
Cape of Good Hope; where, having without loss of time obtained the
necessary refreshments, you will proceed direct to Swan River; but as the
severe gales which are sometimes felt at that settlement may not have
entirely ceased, you will approach that coast with due caution.

At Swan River, you are to land Lieutenants Grey and Lushington, as well
as to refit and water with all convenient despatch; and you are then to
proceed immediately to the north-west coast of New Holland, making the
coast in the vicinity of Dampier Land. The leading objects of your
examination there will be, the extent of the two deep inlets connected
with Roebuck Bay and Cygnet Bay, where the strength and elevation of the
tides have led to the supposition that Dampier Land is an island, and
that the above openings unite in the mouth of a river, or that they
branch off from a wide and deep gulf. Moderate and regular soundings
extend far out from Cape Villaret: you will, therefore, in the first
instance, make that headland; and, keeping along the southern shore of
Roebuck Bay, penetrate at once as far as the Beagle and her boats can
find sufficient depth of water; but you must, however, take care not too
precipitately to commit His Majesty's ship among these rapid tides, nor
to entangle her among the numerous rocks with which all this part of the
coast seems to abound; but by a cautious advance of your boats, for the
double purpose of feeling your way, and at the same time of surveying,
you will establish her in a judicious series of stations, equally
beneficial to the progress of the survey, and to the support of your
detached people.

Prince Regent River appears to have been fully examined by Captain King
up to its freshwater rapids, but as the adjacent ridges of rocky land
which were seen on both sides of Collier Bay, were only laid down from
their distant appearance, it is probable that they will resolve
themselves into a collection of islands in the rear of Dampier Land; and
it is possible that they may form avenues to some wide expanse of water,
or to the mouth of some large river, the discovery of which would be
highly interesting.

As this question, whether there are or are not any rivers of magnitude on
the western coast is one of the principal objects of the expedition, you
will leave no likely opening unexplored, nor desist from its examination
till fully satisfied; but as no estimate can be formed of the time
required for its solution, so no period can be here assigned at which you
shall abandon it in order to obtain refreshments; when that necessity is
felt, it must be left to your own judgment, whether to have recourse to
the town Balli, in the strait of Allas, or to the Dutch settlement of
Coepang, or even to the Arrou Islands, which have been described as
places well adapted for that purpose; but on these points you will take
pains to acquire all the information which can be obtained from the
residents at Swan River.

Another circumstance which prevents any precise instructions being given
to you on this head, is the uncertainty that prevails here respecting the
weather which you may at that period find in those latitudes, and which
it is possible may be such as if not altogether to prevent the execution
of these orders, may at least cause them to be ineffectually performed,
or perhaps lead to a waste of time, which might be better employed on
other parts of the coast. If such should eventually be the case, it would
be prudent not to attempt this intricate part of the coast during the
prevalence of the north-west monsoon, but to employ it in completing the
examination of Shark Bay and of Exmouth Gulf, as well as of other
unexplored intervals of coast up to the 122nd degree of longitude; or,
with a view to the proximity of one of the above-mentioned places of
refreshment, it might, perhaps, be advisable, if compelled to quit the
vicinity of Dampier Land, to devote that part of the season to a more
careful investigation of the low shores of the gulf of Carpentaria, where
it has been surmised, though very loosely, that rivers of some capacity
will be found.

The above objects having been accomplished (in whatever order you may
find suitable to the service) you will return to the southern settlements
for refreshments; and then proceed, during the summer months of fine
weather and long days, to Bass Strait, in which so many fatal accidents
have recently occurred, and of which you are to make a correct and
effectual survey.

But previous to your undertaking that survey, as it has been represented
to us that it would be very desirable for the perfection of the Tidal
theory, that an accurate register of the times and heights of high and
low-water should be kept for some time in Bass Strait, you will (if
practicable) establish a party for that purpose on King Island, and you
are to cause the above particulars of the Tides there to be
unintermittently and minutely observed, and registered in the blank forms
which will be supplied to you by our Hydrographer. If, however,
circumstances should render this measure unadvisable at that island, you
will either choose some less objectionable station, where the average
tide in the Strait may be fairly registered; or, if you can employ no
permanent party on this service, you will be the more exact in
ascertaining the above particulars at every one of your stations; and in
all parts of this Strait you will carefully note the set and strength of
the stream at the intermediate hours between high and low-water, and also
the time at which the stream turns in the offing.

The survey of Bass Strait should include, first, a verification of the
two shores by which it is formed; secondly, such a systematic
representation of the depth and quality of the bottom as will ensure to
any vessel, which chooses to sound by night or day, a correct knowledge
of her position; and, thirdly, a careful examination of the passages on
either side of King Island, as well as through the chains of rocks and
islands which stretch across from Wilson's Promontory to Cape Portland.
This survey will, of course, comprehend the approach to Port Dalrymple,
but the interior details of that extensive harbour may be left to the
officers employed by the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land,
provided you can ascertain that it is his intention to employ them there
within any reasonable time.

The number of vessels which are now in the habit of passing through Bass
Strait, and the doubts which have recently been expressed, not only of
the just position of the dangers it is known to contain, but of the
existence of others, show the necessity of this survey being executed
with that care and fidelity which will give confidence to all future
navigators; and may, therefore, be more extensive in its limits, and
occupy a larger portion of your time than is at present contemplated. You
must exercise your own judgment as to the fittest period at which you
should either repair to Sydney to refit, or adjourn to Port Dalrymple to
receive occasional supplies. Whenever this branch of the service shall be
completed, you are forthwith by a safe conveyance to transmit a copy of
it to our Secretary, that no time may be lost in publishing it for the
general benefit.

At Sydney you will find the stores which we have ordered to be deposited
there for your use, and having carefully rated your chronometers, and
taken a fresh departure from the Observatory near that port, and having
re-equipped His Majesty's ship, and fully completed her provisions, you
will proceed by the inner route to Torres Strait, where the most arduous
of your duties are yet to be performed. The numerous reefs which block up
that Strait; the difficulty of entering its intricate channels; the
discordant result of the many partial surveys which have from time to
time been made there, and the rapidly increasing commerce of which it has
become the thoroughfare, call for a full and satisfactory examination of
the whole space between Cape York and the southern shore of New Guinea,
and to this important service, therefore, you will devote the remaining
period for which your supplies will last.

In this latter survey you will cautiously proceed from the known to the
unknown; you will verify the safety of Endeavour Strait, and furnish
sufficient remarks for avoiding its dangers; you will examine the three
groups called York, Prince of Wales, and Banks, Islands; you will
establish the facilities or determine the dangers of passing through
those groups, and by a well-considered combination of all those results,
you will clearly state the comparative advantages of the different
channels, and finally determine on the best course for vessels to pursue
which shall be going in either direction, or in opposite seasons. Though
with this part of your operations Cook's Bank, Aurora Reef, and the other
shoals in the vicinity will necessarily be connected, yet you are not to
extend them to the 143rd degree of longitude, as the examination of the
great field to the eastward of that meridian must be left to some future
survey which shall include the barrier reefs and their ramified openings
from the Pacific Ocean. You are, on the contrary, to proceed, if
practicable, but most cautiously, in examining the complicated
archipelago of rocks and islands which line the northern side of Torres
Strait, till, at length, reaching New Guinea, you will there ascertain
the general character of that part of its shore, whether it be high and
continuous, or broken into smaller islands with available channels
between them, as has been asserted; or whether, from being guarded by the
innumerable reefs and dangers which are marked in the charts, it must
remain altogether sealed to the navigator. The nature of the country, as
well as of its products, will also be inquiries of considerable interest;
and you will, perhaps, be able to learn whether the Dutch have made any
progress in forming settlements along its shores; and if so, you will
take especial care not to come into collision with any of their

Throughout the whole of this extensive region, you will bear in mind the
mischievous disposition of the natives; and while you strictly practice
that dignified forbearance and benevolence which tend to impress far
higher respect for our power than the exercise of mere force, you will
also be sedulously on your guard against every surprise; and though your
boats should always be completely armed, you will carefully avoid any
conflict where the ignorant or misguided natives may presume on your
pacific appearance, or on the disparity of your numbers.

You will then turn to the westward, and pursue this part of the survey,
so as to determine the breadth of the foul ground off the coast of New
Guinea, and the continuity or interrupted form of that coast; and you
will establish certain positions on the mainland (if the adjacent sea be
navigable, and if not on the several advancing islands) which may serve
as useful land-falls for vessels coming from the Indian Seas, or for
points of departure for those who have passed through any of these
straits. You will thus continue a general examination of this hitherto
unexplored coast as far as Cape Valsche, which is now said to be only the
terminating point of a chain of large islands, and then across to the
Arrou Islands, which are supposed to be remarkably fertile, to abound
with resources and refreshments, and to be peopled by a harmless and
industrious race, but which do not appear to have been visited by any of
His Majesty's ships.

The length of time which may be required for the due execution of all the
foregoing objects cannot be foreseen. It may exceed that for which your
supplies are calculated, or, on the other hand, a less degree of the
supposed complexity in the ground you will have traversed, along with the
energy and diligence with which we rely on you for conducting these
important services, may enable you to complete them within that period.
In this latter case you will return to the Northern coast of New Holland,
and selecting such parts of it as may afford useful harbours of retreat,
or which may appear to comprise the mouths of any streams of magnitude,
you will employ your spare time in such discoveries as may more or less
tend to the general object of the expedition.

Before your departure from Sydney you will have learnt that His Majesty's
Government has established a new settlement at Port Essington, or
somewhere on the North coast of New Holland; and before you finally
abandon that district you will visit this new colony, and contribute by
every means in your power to its resources and its stability.

We have not, in the concluding part of these Orders, pointed out the
places or the periods at which you are to replenish your provisions,
because the latter must depend on various circumstances which cannot be
foreseen, and the former may be safely left to your own decision and
prudence; but when you have been three years on your ground, unless some
very important result were to promise itself from an extension of that
period, you will proceed to the Island of Mauritius, in order to complete
your stock of water and provisions, and then, touching at either side of
the Cape of Good Hope, according to the season, and afterwards at
Ascension, you will make the best of your way to Spithead, and report
your arrival to our Secretary.

Directions will be forwarded to the commanders-in-chief at the Cape of
Good Hope and in the East Indies, and to the governors or
lieutenant-governors of the several settlements at which you have been
ordered to call, to assist and further your enterprise as far as their
means will admit: and you will lose no opportunity, at those several
places, of informing our Secretary of the general outline of your
proceedings, and of transmitting traces of the surveys which you may have
effected, together with copies of your tide and other observations. You
will likewise, by every safe opportunity, communicate to our Hydrographer
detailed accounts of all your proceedings which relate to the surveys;
and you will strictly comply with the enclosed instructions, which have
been drawn up by him under our directions, as well as all those which he
may, from time to time, forward by our command.

Given under our hands, the 8th of June, 1837.


Charles Adam.

George Elliott.

To J.C. Wickham, Esquire.

Commander of His Majesty's surveying vessel Beagle, at Woolwich.

By command of their Lordships.


John Barrow.


Nor should the valuable instructions of Captain Beaufort, Hydrographer to
the Admiralty, be forgotten; such extracts as may probably prove of
interest to the general reader are here subjoined.


The general objects of the expedition which has been placed under your
command, having been set forth in their Lordship's orders, it becomes my
duty to enter somewhat more specifically into the nature and details of
the service which you are to perform. Their Lordships having expressed
the fullest reliance on your zeal and talents, and having cautiously and
wisely abstained from fettering you in that division and disposition of
your time which the periodic changes of the seasons or the necessities of
the vessel may require, it would ill become me to enter too minutely into
any of those arrangements which have been so flatteringly left to your
discretion; yet, in order to assist you with the results of that
experience which has been derived from the many surveys carried on under
the direction of the Admiralty, and to ensure that uniform consistency of
method in your varied labours, which will so greatly enhance their value,
I will briefly touch on some of the most important subjects, and repeat
those instructions which their Lordships have in every former case
ratified, and which it is therefore expected you will bear in mind during
the whole progress of your survey.

The first point to which your orders advert, after quitting England, is
the Eight Stones, where you will probably add one to the many testimonies
which have been already collected of their non-existence, at least in the
place assigned to them in the old charts; but, before we venture to
expunge them, it becomes a serious duty to traverse their position in
every possible direction. Should the weather be favourable, it would be
desirable, while crossing their parallel, to obtain one very deep cast of
the lead, and should that succeed in reaching the bottom, the sacrifice
of a few days will be well bestowed in endeavouring to trace a further
portion of the bank. A small chart, showing the tracks of various ships
across this place, is hereto annexed, and as the meridian of 16 degrees
22 minutes nearly bisects the two adjacent courses, you are recommended
to cross their parallel in that longitude.

From the Canary Islands to the coast of Brazil, and indeed throughout
every part of your voyage, you should endeavour to pass over the places
of all the reported Vigias which lie near your course, either outward or
homeward. You will perceive a multitude of them carelessly marked on
every chart, but of some you will find a circumstantial description in
that useful publication, the Nautical Magazine, and a day devoted to the
search of any, which will not withdraw you too far from your due course,
will be well employed.

The rocks off Cape Leeuwin, some near King George Sound, the dangerous
patch off Kangaroo Island, and many others, of which accounts are given
in the above work, ought, if possible, to be examined, as more
immediately appertaining to your own field. Whenever found, the depth,
nature, and limits of the banks on which they stand, should be
determined, as they might prove to be of sufficient extent to give
warning to the danger, and then a direct course should be immediately
made by the Beagle to the nearest land, where a convenient place should
be selected, and its position carefully ascertained.

At Swan River you will have previously learnt from Lieutenant Roe, the
Surveyor-General, whether the above-mentioned rocks off Kangaroo Island,
have been again seen, or their position altered, since Captain Brockman's
first description, so as to save your time in the search.

You will no doubt obtain from that intelligent officer, Lieutenant Roe,
much important information respecting the north-west coast, as well as
all the detached intelligence, which during his long residence there he
must have collected, relating to every part of the shores of New Holland.
From him, also, you will acquire many useful hints about the places in
the Indian Sea where refreshments may be obtained, as well as some
insight into the disposition of the authorities and the inhabitants whom
you will meet there, and he will probably be able to give you a clear
account of the duration of the monsoons and their accompanying weather.

If at Port Dalrymple it should so happen that you can wait on Sir John
Franklin, it is probable that he will detach Lieutenant Burnett to
cooperate with you in the survey of Bass Strait, and it is certain that
the Governor will do everything in his power to assist your labours. At
Sydney you will have the advantage of seeing Captain P.P. King, whose
long experience of all those coasts, as well as of the seasons, and of
the manner of dealing with the inhabitants, will be of the utmost use to
you; and whose zeal for the King's service, and whose love of science,
will lead him to do everything possible to promote your views. If Mr.
Cunningham, the Government Botanist, be there, he also will, I am
convinced, eagerly communicate to you and your officers everything which
may be serviceable in the pursuits connected with Natural History.

At Swan River, at Port Dalrymple, and at Sydney, it may, perhaps, be
possible for you to hire, at a low rate, some person acquainted with the
dialects of the natives, which you are subsequently to visit, and with
whom it will be so essential to be on friendly terms. Such a person will
greatly assist in that object; but you will keep him on board no longer
than absolutely necessary, and you will take care to provide for his
return if the Beagle should not be able to carry him back.


In such an extensive and distant survey, numerous subjects of inquiry,
though not strictly nautical, will suggest themselves to your active
mind; and though, from your transient stay at any other place, you will
often experience the mortification of leaving them incomplete, yet that
should not discourage you in the collection of every useful fact within
your reach. Your example in this respect will stimulate the efforts of
the younger officers under your command, and through them may even have a
beneficial influence on the future character of the navy.

It has been suggested by some geologists, that the coral insect, instead
of raising its superstructure directly from the bottom of the sea, works
only on the summits of submarine mountains, which have been projected
upwards by volcanic action. They account, therefore, for the basin-like
form so generally observed in coral islands, by supposing that they exist
on the circular lip of extinct volcanic craters; and as much of your work
will lie among islands and cays of coral formation, you should collect
every fact which can throw any light on the subject.

Hitherto it has been made a part of the duty of all the surveying vessels
to keep an exact register of the height of the barometer, at its two
maxima of 9, and its two minima of 3 o'clock, as well as that of the
thermometer at the above periods, and at its own day and night maximum
and minimum, as well as the continual comparative temperature of the sea
and air. This was done with the view of assisting to provide authentic
data, collected from all parts of the world, and ready for the use of
future labourers, whenever some accidental discovery, or the direction of
some powerful mind, should happily rescue that science from its present
neglected state. But those hours of entry greatly interfere with the
employments of such officers as are capable of registering those
instruments with the precision and delicacy which alone can render
meteorologic data useful, and their future utility is at present so
uncertain, that it does not appear necessary that you should do more than
record, twice a day, the height of the former, as well as the extremes of
the thermometer, unless, from some unforeseen cause, you should be long
detained in any one port, when a system of these observations might then
be advantageously undertaken. There are, however, some occasional
observations, which cannot fail of being extensively useful in future

1. During the approach of the periodic changes of wind and weather, and
then the hygrometer, also, should find a place in the journal.

2. The mean temperature of the sea at the equator, or, perhaps, under a
vertical sun. These observations should be repeated whenever the ship is
in either of those situations, as well in the Atlantic as in the Pacific;
they should be made far away from the influence of the land, and at
certain constant depths, suppose fifty and ten fathoms, and at the
surface also; and this last ought to be again observed at the
corresponding hour of the night.

3. A collection of good observations, systematically continued, for the
purpose of connecting the isothermal lines of the globe, and made, as
above, at certain uniform depths.

4. Some very interesting facts might result from the comparison of the
direct heat of the solar rays in high and low latitudes. The two
thermometers for this purpose should be precisely similar in every
respect; the ball of the one should be covered with white kerseymere, and
of the other with black kerseymere, and they should be suspended far out
of the reach of any reflected heat from the ship, and also at the same
elevation above the surface of the water; the observations should be made
out of sight of land, in a variety of latitudes, and at different hours
of the day, and every pains taken to render them all strictly similar and

5. All your meteorologic instruments should be carefully compared
throughout a large extent of the scales, and tabulated for the purpose of
applying the requisite corrections when necessary, and one or more of
them should be compared with the standard instruments at the Royal
Society or Royal Observatory on your return home.

6. All observations which involve the comparison of minute differences
should be the mean result of at least three readings, and should be as
much as possible the province of the same individual observer.

7. In some of those singularly heavy showers which occur in crossing the
Equator, and also at the changes of the Monsoon, attempts should be made
to measure the quantity of rain that falls in a given time. A very rude
instrument, if properly placed, will answer this purpose, merely a wide
superficial basin to receive the rain, and to deliver it into a pipe,
whose diameter, compared with that of the mouth of the basin, will show
the number of inches, etc. that have fallen on an exaggerated scale.

8. It is unnecessary to call your attention to the necessity of recording
every circumstance connected with that highly interesting phenomenon, the
Aurora Australis, such as the angular bearing and elevation of the point
of coruscation; the bearing also of the principal luminous arches, etc.

9. It has been asserted that lunar and solar halos are not always exactly
circular, and a general order might, therefore, be given to the officer
of the watch, to measure their vertical and horizontal diameters whenever
they occur, day or night.

Large collections of natural history cannot be expected, nor any
connected account of the structure or geological arrangements of the
great islands which you are to coast; nor, indeed, would minute inquiries
on these subjects be at all consistent with the true objects of the
survey. But, to an observant eye, some facts will unavoidably present
themselves, which will be well worth recording, and the medical officers
will, no doubt, be anxious to contribute their share to the scientific
character of the survey.

I have now exhausted every subject to which it can be necessary to call
the attention of an officer of your long experience; and I have,
therefore, only further to express my conviction, that if Providence
permits you to retain your wonted health and activity, you will pursue
the great objects of this expedition with all the energy in your power,
and with all the perseverance consistent with a due regard to the safety
of His Majesty's Ship, and to the comfort of your officers and crew.

Given, etc. this 8th of June, 1837.

F. Beaufort,




The crew embarked in the Beagle in this her third voyage, consisted of:

John Clements Wickham, Commander and Surveyor.
James B. Emery, Lieutenant.
Henry Eden, Lieutenant.
John Lort Stokes, Lieutenant and Assistant Surveyor.
Alexander B. Usborne, Master.
Benjamin Bynoe, Surgeon.
Thomas Tait, Assistant Surgeon.
John E. Dring, Clerk in charge.
Benjamin F. Helpman, Mate.
Auchmuty T. Freeze, Mate.
Thomas T. Birch, Mate.
L.R. Fitzmaurice, Mate.*
William Tarrant, Master's Assistant.
Charles Keys,** Clerk.
Thomas Sorrell, Boatswain.
John Weeks, Carpenter.
A corporal of marines and seven privates, with forty seamen and boys.

(*Footnote. This officer I afterwards appointed to the assistant
surveyorship (vacated upon my succeeding Captain Wickham) on account of
the active part he had taken in the surveying duties: an appointment most
handsomely confirmed by Captain Beaufort.)

(**Footnote. Mr. Keys was always a volunteer for boat work, and is
entitled to honourable mention as being, even where all were zealous, of
great value upon more than one occasion.)

During our six years' voyage the following changes occurred:

Mr. Usborne invalided, in consequence of his wound, in May 1839; Mr.
Birch exchanged, in August 1839, with Mr. Pasco, into the Britomart; Mr.
Freeze exchanged, in September 1839, with Mr. Forsyth,* into the Pelorus;
in February 1840, Mr. Helpman joined the colonial service in Western
Australia; Mr. C.J. Parker was appointed, in December 1840, to Mr.
Usborne's vacancy, superseding Mr. Tarrant, who had been doing Master's
duty since Mr. Usborne left; Lieutenants Emery and Eden returned to
England in March 1841. Late in the same month Commander Wickham
invalided, when the writer of this narrative was appointed to the vacant
command, by Commander Owen Stanley, H.M.S. Britomart, senior officer
present, an appointment subsequently confirmed by the Lords of the
Admiralty. In April 1841, Lieutenant Graham Gore succeeded Lieutenant
Emery.** Commander Wickham, myself, Mr. Bynoe, the Boatswain, and two
marines, had served in both the previous voyages of the Beagle.

(*Footnote. From this officer's previous knowledge of the duties of
surveying, having sailed in the Beagle on her former voyage, he proved a
very valuable addition to our party.)

(**Footnote. Lieutenant Gore had been appointed to H.M.S. Herald and came
down from India, expecting to join her at Sydney: on his arrival, he
found she had left the station; and though he might have spent some
months among his friends there, he in the most spirited manner, at once
volunteered to join the Beagle, and proved himself throughout the
remainder of the voyage of the greatest value, both to the service, and
the friend who here seeks to do justice to his worth. This deserving
officer would seem to have an hereditary taste for the duties of a voyage
of surveying and discovery, his grandfather having accompanied the
renowned circumnavigator, Cook, and his father, the unfortunate Bligh.
Besides Lieutenant Gore's valuable services in H.M.S. Beagle, he was 1st
Lieutenant of H.M.S. Volage, during the early part of the Chinese war,
and present at the capture of Aden: he served under Captain Sir George
Back in the Polar expedition, and on board H.M.S. Albion at the battle of


On the 9th of June we left Woolwich, in tow of H.M. Steamer Boxer,
furnished with every comfort and necessary (by the Lords of the
Admiralty) which our own experience, or the kind interest of Captain
Beaufort could suggest. It had been determined by the Government--the
plan having been suggested by Lieutenant Grey to Lord Glenelg, then
Secretary of State for the Colonies--that, simultaneously with the survey
of the seaboard of the great continent of Australia, under Captain
Wickham, a party should be employed in inland researches, in order more
particularly to solve the problem of the existence of a great river, or
water inlet, supposed, upon the authority of Captains King and Dampier,
to open out at some point on its western or north-western side, then but
partially and imperfectly surveyed.


This expedition was now entrusted to the command of Lieutenant
Grey--since Governor of South Australia--who was accompanied by
Lieutenant, now Captain Lushington; Mr. Walker, Surgeon, and Corporals
Coles and Auger, of the Royal Sappers and Miners, who had volunteered
their services: they were to take passage in the Beagle, and to proceed
either to the Cape of Good Hope or Swan River, as Lieutenant Grey might
ultimately determine. It was arranged that they should join us at
Plymouth, and on our arrival there on the 20th of June--having called at
Portsmouth on our way--we found them anxiously expecting us.

Here we were busily occupied for some days in rating the chronometers,
and testing the various magnetic instruments: we also during this time
swung the ship to try the local attraction, which neither here, nor in
any subsequent experiments, exceeded one degree. As the ship lay in the
Sound our observations were made on a stone in the breakwater marked
230/1, from whence we took our chronometric departure; it is about
one-third of the length from the east end, and had been used for similar
purposes by Captains King and Fitzroy. We considered it to be west of
Greenwich, 0 hours 16 minutes 33 seconds 4t.


Hardly anyone can visit Plymouth Sound without being at once struck with
the singular beauty of the surrounding scenery; nor shall I easily forget
the mingled feelings of admiration and regret with which my eye dwelt
upon the quiet spot the evening before bidding it a long, long farewell.
The sea had sunk to sleep, and not a single breath disturbed its glassy
surface: the silent waters--and yet how eloquently that silence spoke to
the heart--glided swiftly past; into the still air rose the unbroken
column of the thin and distant smoke; through long vistas of far-off
trees, which art and nature had combined to group, the magnificent
building at Mount Edgcumbe, but veiled, to increase its beauty: scenery
varying from the soft luxury of the park, to the rude freedom of the wild
mountain's side, by turns solicited the eye; and as I leant against a
shattered rock, filled with all those nameless feelings which such an
hour was so well fitted to call forth, I felt notwithstanding all the
temptations of promised adventure, the full bitterness of the price we
pay for its excitements!


On the evening of the 21st of June, we received the melancholy
intelligence of the death of our late most gracious Sovereign, King
William the Fourth. To all classes of his subjects his mild and paternal
government has endeared his memory; and none however they may differ with
him, or with each other, upon that great political revolution which will
render the name and reign of the Fourth William, no less remarkable than
that of the Third, will refuse the tribute of their sincerest respect for
qualities that adorned the sovereign while they exalted the man. By the
naval service, in which he had spent the early part of his life, his name
will long be remembered with affection; he never lost sight of its
interests; and warmly supported its several institutions and charities,
long after he had been called by Providence to the Throne of his Fathers.
We bore the first intelligence of his fate, and the account of the
accession of our present most gracious Queen, to every port at which we
touched up to the period of our reaching Swan River.


Sail from Plymouth.
The Eight Stones.
Peak of Tenerife.
Approach to Santa Cruz.
La Cueva de Los Guanches.
Trade with Mogadore.
Intercourse between Mogadore and Mombas.
Reason to regret Mombas having been given up.
Sail from Tenerife.
Search for rocks near the equator.
Arrival at San Salvador.
Appearance of Bahia.
State of the Country.
Slave Trade.
And results of Slavery.
Extension of the Slave Trade on the eastern coast of Africa.
Moral condition of the Negroes.
Middy's Grave.
Departure from Bahia.
Mr. "Very Well Dice".

The morning of the 5th July saw us running out of Plymouth Sound with a
light northerly wind, and hazy weather: soon after we were outside we
spoke H.M.S. Princess Charlotte, bearing the flag of Admiral Sir R.
Stopford, and as she was bound down channel we kept together for the next
three days: she had old shipmates on board, and was not the less an
object of interest on that account. Nothing worthy of particular notice
occurred during the run to Santa Cruz in Tenerife, which we made on the
18th of July; having in obedience to our instructions passed over the
presumed site of The Eight Stones, thus adding another though almost
needless testimony to their non-existence, at least in the place assigned
them in the old charts.

In passing the gut of Gibraltar we remarked the current setting us into
it: this I have before noticed in outward voyages: in the homeward, one
is generally too far to the westward to feel its effects. A small
schooner sailed for England on the 20th, and most of us took the
opportunity of sending letters by her. I learnt from the master of her
that a timber ship had been recently picked up near the island, having
been dismasted in a gale off the banks of Newfoundland; she was 105 days
drifting here.


We were not so fortunate on this occasion as to obtain a distant sea view
of the far-famed peak of Tenerife. There are few natural objects of
greater interest when so beheld. Rising at a distance of some 40 leagues
in dim and awful solitude from the bosom of the seemingly boundless waves
that guard its base, it rests at first upon the blue outline of the
horizon like a conically shaped cloud: hour after hour as you approach
the island it seems to grow upon the sight, until at length its broad
reflection darkens the surrounding waters. I can imagine nothing better
calculated than an appearance of this kind to satisfy a beholder of the
spherical figure of the earth, and it would seem almost incredible that
early navigators should have failed to find conviction in the unvarying
testimonies of their own experience, which an approach to every shore

In approaching the anchorage of Santa Cruz, vessels should close with the
shore, and get into soundings before--as is the general custom--arriving
abreast of the town, where from the steepness of the bank, and its
proximity to the shore, they are obliged to anchor suddenly, a practice
never desirable, and to vessels short handed, always inconvenient:
besides calms sometimes prevail in the offing, which would prevent a
vessel reaching the anchorage at all.


Lieutenant Grey was most indefatigable in collecting information during
the short period of our stay at the island, as an examination of his
interesting work will at once satisfy the reader: he explored a cave
three miles to the north-east of Santa Cruz, known by tradition as La
Cueva de los Guanches, and reputed to be a burying-place of the
aboriginal inhabitants of the island: it was full of bones, and from the
specimens he brought away, and also from his description of all that he
examined, they appear to have belonged to a small-limbed race of men.

Besides the wine trade, a considerable traffic is carried on with the
Moors upon the opposite coast, who exchange gums and sometimes ivory for
cotton and calico prints, and occasionally tobacco.


The chief port for this trade is Mogadore, from whence ships not
unfrequently sail direct to Liverpool.

A singular circumstance was mentioned to me by our first Lieutenant Mr.
Emery, as tending to prove the existence of commercial intercourse
between the various tribes in the interior, and the inhabitants of the
coast at Mogadore on the north-west coast of Africa, and Mombas on the
south-east. In the year 1830, certain English goods were recognized in
the hands of the Moors at Mogadore which had been sold two years
previously to the natives at Mombas. The great extent of territory passed
over within these dates, renders this fact somewhat extraordinary; and it
affords a reason for regretting that we did not keep possession of
Mombas, which would ere this have enabled us to penetrate into the
interior of Africa: we abandoned it, at the very time when the tribes in
the interior were beginning to find out the value of our manufactures,
especially calicoes and cottons.

From the best information that Lieutenant Emery had obtained among the
natives, it seems certain that a very large lake exists in the interior,
its banks thickly studded with buildings, and lying nearly due west from

It was Lieutenant Emery's intention to have visited this lake had he
remained longer at Mombas; the Sultan's son was to have accompanied him,
an advantage which, coupled with his own knowledge of the country and its
customs, together with his great popularity among the natives, must have
ensured him success. It is to be feared, that so favourable an
opportunity for clearing up the doubts and darkness which at present
beset geographers in attempting to delineate this unknown land, will not
soon again present itself.


Having completed the necessary magnetic observations, and rated the
chronometers, we sailed from Tenerife, on the evening of the 23rd. It
should be noticed that the results obtained from our observations for the
dip of the needle, differed very materially from those given by former
observers: the experiments made by Lieutenant Grey in different parts of
the island, satisfied us that the variation could not be imputed to
merely local causes.

As in obedience to our instructions we had to examine and determine the
hitherto doubtful position of certain rocks near the Equator, about the
meridian of 20 degrees West longitude, we were obliged to take a course
that carried us far to the eastward of the Cape de Verd Islands; for this
reason we had the North-East trade wind very light; we finally lost it on
the 30th, in latitude 13 degrees 0 minutes North, and longitude 14
degrees 40 minutes West; it had been for the two previous days scarcely

The South-East trade reached us on the 8th of August, latitude 3 degrees
30 minutes North longitude 17 degrees 40 minutes West, and on the morning
of the 10th we crossed the Equator in longitude 22 degrees 0 minutes
West: when sundry of our crew and passengers underwent the usual
ceremonies in honour of old Father Neptune. A close and careful search
within the limits specified in our instructions justified us in
certifying the non-existence of the rocks therein alluded to: but before
we presume to pass any censure upon those who preceded us in the honours
of maritime discovery, and the labours of maritime survey, it will be
proper to bear in mind the ceaseless changes to which the earth's surface
is subject, and that, though our knowledge is but limited of the
phenomena connected with subterranean and volcanic agency, still, in the
sudden upheaval and subsidence of Sabrina and Graham Islands, we have
sufficient evidence of their vast disturbing power, to warrant the
supposition that such might have been the case with the rocks for which
our search proved fruitless. Nor are these the only causes that may be
assigned to reconcile the conflicting testimonies of various Navigators
upon the existence of such dangers; the origin of which may be ascribed
to drift timber--reflected light discolouring the sea, and causing the
appearance of broken water--or to the floating carcass of a whale, by
which I have myself been more than once deceived.


A succession of winds between South-South-East and South-East, with the
aid of a strong westerly current, soon brought us near the Brazils. We
made the land on the morning of the 17th, about 15 miles to the
north-east of Bahia, and in the afternoon anchored off the town of San

Though this was neither my first nor second visit to Bahia, I was still
not indifferent to the magnificent or rather luxuriant tropical scenery
which it presents. A bank of such verdure as these sun-lit climes alone
supply, rose precipitously from the dark blue water, dotted with the
white and gleaming walls of houses and convents half hidden in woods of
every tint of green; while here and there the lofty spires of some
Christian temple pointed to a yet fairer world, invisible to mortal eye,
and suggested even to the least thoughtful, that glorious as is this
lower earth, framed by Heaven's beneficence for man's enjoyment, still it
is not that home to which the hand of revelation directs the aspirations
of our frail humanity.


I had last seen Bahia in August, 1836, on the homeward voyage of the
Beagle; and it was then in anything but a satisfactory condition; the
white population divided among themselves, and the slaves concerting by
one bloody and desperate blow to achieve their freedom. It did not appear
to have improved during the intervening period: a revolutionary movement
was still contemplated by the more liberal section of the Brazilians,
though at the very period they thus judiciously selected for squabbling
with one another, they were living in hourly expectation of a rising, en
masse, of the blacks. That such an insurrection must sooner or later take
place--and take place with all the most fearful circumstances of long
delayed and complete revenge--no unprejudiced observer can doubt.


That selfish and short-sighted policy which is almost invariably allied
with despotism, has led to such constant additions by importation to the
number of the slave population, that it now exceeds the white in the
ratio of ten to one, while individually the slaves are both physically
and in natural capacity more than equal to their sensual and degenerate
masters. Bahia and its neighbourhood have a bad eminence in the annals of
the Brazilian slave-trade. Upwards of fifty, some accounts say eighty
cargoes, had been landed there since the Beagle's last visit: nor is the
circumstance to be wondered at when we bear in mind, that the price of a
slave then varied from 90 to 100 pounds, and this in a country not
abounding in money.

The declining trade, the internal disorganization, and the rapidly
augmenting slave population of Bahia, all tend to prove that the system
of slavery which the Brazilians consider essential to the welfare of
their country, operates directly against her real interests. The
wonderful resources of the Brazils will, however, never be fully
developed until the Brazilians resolve to adopt the line of policy
suggested in Captain Fitzroy's interesting remarks upon this subject. To
encourage an industrious native population on the one hand, and on the
other to declare the slave-trade piratical, are the first necessary steps
in that march of improvement, by which this tottering empire may yet be
preserved from premature decay.


It would, however, be a vain imagination, to suppose that this wiser and
more humane determination will be spontaneously adopted by those most
implicated in this debasing and demoralizing traffic. Indeed it appears
from the best information obtained on the subject, that since the
vigilance of our cruizers has comparatively put a stop to the trade on
the west coast of Africa--where it has received a great
discouragement--it has been greatly extended on the east. Could it but
have been foreseen by our Government that their efforts upon the west
coast, would in proportion as they were successful, only tend to drive
the traders in human flesh to the eastward, it is probable that Mombas
would have still been retained under our dominion; for such a possession
would have enabled us to exercise an effectual control in that quarter:
as it is, it gives additional reason to regret that the place was ever
abandoned. The horrors of the passage--horrors which no imagination can
heighten, no pen adequately portray--are by this alteration in the chief
seat of the accursed trade most fearfully augmented. The poor victims of
cruelty and fraud and avarice, in their most repulsive forms, are packed
away between decks scarcely three feet high, in small vessels of 30 or 40
tons, and thus situated have to encounter the cold and stormy passage
round the Cape: the average mortality is of course most frightful, but
the smallness of the vessels employed decreases the risk of the
speculators in human flesh, who consider themselves amply repaid, if they
save one living cargo out of every five embarked!


In the meantime cargoes of slaves are almost weekly landed in the
neighbourhood of Bahia: the thousand evils of the vile system are each
day increasing, and with a rapid but unregarded footstep the fearful hour
steals on, when a terrible reckoning of unrestrained revenge will repay
all the accumulated wrongs of the past, and write in characters of blood
an awful warning for the future!

So far as we could learn, no attempts are made by the masters to
introduce the blessings of Christianity among those whom they deprive of
temporal freedom. The slave is treated as a valuable animal and nothing
more: the claims of his kindred humanity so far forgotten as they relate
to his first unalienable right of personal freedom, are not likely to be
remembered in his favour, in what concerns his coheritage in the sublime
sacrifice of atonement once freely offered for us all! He toils through
long and weary years, cheered by no other hope than the far distant and
oft delusive expectation that a dearly purchased freedom--if for
freedom's blessings any price can be too costly--will enable him to look
once more upon the land of his nativity; and then close his eyes,
surrounded by the loved few whom the ties of kindred endear even to his
rude nature.

It would swell this portion of the work to an unreasonable extent, to
give any lengthened details of the working of a system, about which among
my readers no two opinions can exist. Let it suffice to say, that the
Europeans are generally better and less exacting masters than the
Brazilians. Among the latter it is a common practice to send so many
slaves each day to earn a certain fixed sum by carrying burdens, pulling
in boats, or other laborious employment; and those who return at night
without the sum thus arbitrarily assessed as the value of their day's
work, are severely flogged for their presumed idleness.


During our brief stay at Bahia I paid a visit to the grave of poor young
Musters, a little Middy in the Beagle during our last voyage, who died
here on the 19th May, 1832, from the effects of a fever caught while away
on an excursion up the river Macacu. He was a son of Lord Byron's Mary,
and a great favourite with all on board. Poor boy! no stone marks his
lonely resting place upon a foreign shore, but the long grass waves over
his humble grave, and the tall palm tree bends to the melancholy wind
that sighs above it. As I paid his memory the tribute due to his many
virtues and his early death, I breathed a prayer that the still and
placid beauty of the spot where his mortal remains return to their
kindred dust, may typify the tranquil happiness of that world of spirits
with which his own is now united!


On the afternoon of Friday the 25th, we left the magnificent bay of
Bahia, and after obtaining an offing, stood away to the southward and
eastward. I was much amused by a story of Grey's a day or two after we
sailed: it seems he had mistaken the Quartermaster's usual call in
conning the ship of "Very well, dice" (a corruption of "very well, thus")
for a complimentary notice of the man at the helm; and anxious to know
the individual who so distinguished himself, had two or three times gone
on deck to see "Mr. Very well Dice:" finding a different helmsman each
time, completely confounded him; and when I explained the matter, he
joined me in a hearty laugh at the mistake!


A gale.
Anchor in Simon's Bay.
H.M.S. Thalia.
Captain Harris, and his Adventures in Southern Africa.
Proceedings of the Land Party.
Leave Simon's Bay.
An overloaded ship.
Heavy weather and wet decks.
Island of Amsterdam.
Its true longitude.
St. Paul's.
Westerly variation.
Rottnest Island.
Gage's Road.
Swan River Settlement.
An inland lake.
Plans for the future.
Illness of Captain Wickham.
Tidal Phenomena.
Approach to it.
Narrow escape of the first settlers.
The Darling Range.
Abundant Harvest.
Singular flight of strange birds.
Curious Cliff near Swan River.
Bald Head.
Mr. Darwin's Theory.
The Natives.
Anecdotes of Natives.
Their Superstitions.
Barbarous traditions, their uses and their lessons.

We had, upon the whole, a favourable passage across to the Cape; but on
the 17th of September, when distant from it about 500 miles, we
encountered a moderate gale from the north. As this was the first heavy
weather we had experienced since our departure from England, I was
curious to see what effect such a strange scene would have on our
passengers. Wrapt in mute astonishment, they stood gazing with admiration
and awe on the huge waves as they rolled past, occasionally immersing our
little vessel in their white crests--and listening, with emotions not
wholly devoid of fear, to the wild screams of the seabirds as they
skimmed o'er the steep acclivities of these moving masses. The landsmen
were evidently deeply impressed with the grandeur of a storm at sea; nor
can the hardiest seaman look with unconcern on such an exhibition of the
majesty of Him, whose will the winds and waves obey. Not more poetically
beautiful than literally true are the words of the Psalmist, so
appropriately introduced into the Form of Prayers at Sea--"They that go
down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters:
these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep: for at
his word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof." My
own experience has over and over again satisfied me, that, mingled with
many a dim superstition, a deep religious sentiment--a conviction of the
might and mercy of Heaven--often rests on the heart of the most reckless
seaman, himself all unconscious of its existence, yet strangely
influenced by its operations!


We sighted land on the evening of the 20th of September, rounded the Cape
the next morning, and in the afternoon anchored in Simon's Bay. We found
here H.M.S. Thalia, bearing the flag of Admiral Sir Patrick Campbell,
Commander-in-chief of the Cape station: and during our subsequent stay

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