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February, 1709. During his residence here, he subsisted on such vegetables as he found on the island, with fish, and the broiled flesh of goats, which he pursued with surprising agility among the rocky and mountainous parts of the island. Captain Rogers observes, that when he came on board "he was clothed in goat-skins, and looked wilder than the first owners of them;" and adds, "he had so much forgotten his language, that we could scarcely understand him." Cowper, with his accustomed sensibility of feeling and felicity of expression, has commemorated his exile in those beautiful lines which commence with, "I am monarch of all I survey." The adventures of Selkirk, in Juan Fernandez, also furnished De Foe with the materials for his unrivalled "Robinson Crusoe."
* Rogers' Voyage.
South-western borders of Polynesia-New HollandTempest off the coast-Observations on the aborigines -New Zealand-Situation-Soil - Productions-Climate-Forest scenery--Native flax-Population-Savage dispositions of the people-Cannibalism-Government-Slavery-in New Zealand-in Rio JaneiroCruel treatment of New Zealand slaves--Superstitions -Instance of parental tenderness-Occurrences at Now Zealand-Tatauing-Sham fighting and war dances-Influence of reports from Tahiti--Prospects of the Mission.
THE preceding chapter contains a brief notice of the principal islands and clusters in the eastern part of Polynesia, and which usually arrest the attention of those who, by the way of Cape Horn, enter the Pacific. The countries on the southwestern borders of this ocean, are not less interesting; and, in many respects, they are entitled to a greater degree of attention.
The most important of these are New Holland, and Van Diemen's Land. In the former is the new settlement on the Swan River, and the important colony of New South Wales; in the latter, its flourishing appendages in Van Diemen's Land.
The navigation of the northern part of this extensive island is intricate and dangerous. The shores of the southern part are rocky and bold,
affording, however, several harbours, of which Port Jackson, leading to the town of Sidney, is probably the most capacious and secure. The weather is often stormy and the sea tempestuous, and fatal to the bark that may be exposed to its violence. We experienced somewhat of its fury on our first arrival off the coast in 1816.
Our passage from Rio Janeiro had been pleasant; and, eleven weeks after leaving Brazil, we made the western coast of Van Diemen's Land. We passed through Bass's Straits on the same day, and sailed along the eastern shore of New Holland towards Port Jackson. Soon after day-light the next morning, we perceived a sail some miles before us, which on nearer approach proved to be a small schooner. Our captain, on visiting her, found only three men on board, who were in the greatest distress. They had been at Kangaroo Island procuring seal-skins, with a quantity of which they were now bound to Sydney. They had remained on the island, catching seals, till their provisions were nearly expended, and, during their voyage, had encountered much heavy weather, had been nearly lost, and were so exhausted by fatigue, want of food, and constant exposure, that they could not even alter their sails when a change in the wind rendered it necessary. They had been for some time living on seal-skins; pieces of which were found in a saucepan over the fire, when the boat's crew boarded them. The men from our ship trimmed their sails, and our captain offered to take them in tow; but as they were so near their port, which they hoped to reach the next day, they declined his proposal. When he returned to the ship, he sent them some bread and beef, a bottle of wine, and some water; which the poor starving
men received with indescribable eagerness and joy. The seamen who conveyed these supplies returned to the ship, and we kept on our way. We did not, however, hear of their arrival; and as we remained nearly six months in Sydney after this time, and received no tidings of them, it is probable their crazy bark was wrecked, or foundered during a heavy storm, that came on in the course of the following day.
The wind from the south continued fresh and favourable, and in the forenoon of the next day we sailed towards the shore, under the influence of exhilarated spirits, and the confident expectation of landing in Port Jackson before sunset. About noon we found ourselves near enough the coast to distinguish different objects along the shore, and soon discovered the flag-staff erected on one of the heads leading to Sydney, our port of destination, about four miles distant from us, but rather to windward. The captain and officers being strangers to the port, some time was spent in scanning the coast, in the hope of finding an opening still farther northward; but at twelve o'clock our apprehensions of having missed our port were confirmed, as the latitude was then found, by an observation of the sun, to be four miles to the northward of Sydney heads. We had, in fact, sailed with a strong but favourable wind, four miles past the harbour which we ought to have entered. Hope, which had beamed in every eye, and lighted up every countenance with anticipated pleasure, when we first neared the land, had alternated with fear, or given way to most intense anxiety, when we witnessed the uncertainty that prevailed among our companions, as to our actual situation; but disappointment the most distressing was now strongly marked
in every countenance. "About ship," exclaimed the captain; immediately the ship's head was turned from the land, and, steering as near the wind as possible, we proceeded towards the open sea. After sailing in this direction for some time, the ship was again turned towards the shore; but the wind, which during the forenoon had been so favourable, was now against us, and as soon as we could distinguish the flag-staff on the coast, we found ourselves farther from it than before. The wind increased; and as the evening advanced, a storm came on, which raged with fearful violence. The night was unusually dark; the long and heavy waves of the Pacific rolled in foam around our vessel; the stormy wind howled through the rigging; all hands were on deck, and twice or thrice, while in the act of turning the ship from the land, the sails were rent by the tempest; while the hoarse and hollow roaring of the breakers, and the occasional glimmering of lights on the coast, combined to convince us of our situation, and the proximity of our danger. The depression of spirits, resulting from the disappointment, which had been more or less felt by all on board, the noise of the tempest, the vociferations and frequent imprecations of the officers, the hurried steps, rattling of ropes and cordage, and almost incessant labours of the seamen on deck, and the heavy and violent motion of the vessel, which detached from their fastenings, and dashed with violence from one side of the ship to the other, chests of drawers, trunks, and barrels, that had remained secure during the voyage, produced a state of mind peculiarly distressing. The darkness and general disorder that prevailed in the cabin, with the constant apprehension of striking on some fatal