« PreviousContinue »
Art. V.-A New Voyage round the World, describing particularly
The Isthmus of America, several Coasts and Islands in the West Indies, the Isles of Cape Verd, the Passage by Terra del Fuego, the South Sea Coasts of Chili, Perú, and Mexico; the Isle of Guam one of the Ladrones, Mindanao and other Philippine and East India Islands near Cambodia, China, Formosa, Luconia, Celebes, &c., New Holland, Sumatra, Nicobar Isles ; the Cape of Good Hope, and Santa Hellena ; their Soil, Rivers, Harbours, Plants, Fruits, Animals, and Inhabitants; their Customs, Religion, Government, Trade, &c. By William Dampier. Illustrated reith particular Maps and Draughts. The Second Edition corrected. London, 1697. 8vo.
Voyages and Descriptions, in three Parts, viz. 1. A Supplement
of the Voyage round the World, describing the Countries of Tonquin, Achin, Malacca, &c., their Product, Inhabitants, Manners, Trade, Policy, &c. 2. Two Voyages to Campeachy, with a Description of the Coasts, Product, Inhabitants, Logwoodcutting Trade, &c. of Jucatan, Campeachy, New Spain, &c. 3. A Discourse of Trade-winds, Breezes, Storms, Seasons of the Year, Tides, and Currents, of the Torid Zone, throughout the World. With an Account of Natal in Africk, its Product, Negroes, Sc. By Captain William Dampier. Illustrated with particular Maps and Draughts. To which is added, a General Index to both Volumes. The second edition, 1700.
A Voyage to New Holland, &c. in the Year 1699.
Wherein are described the Canary Islands, the Isles of Mayo and St. Jago, the Bay of All Saints, with the Forts and I'own of Bahia in Brasil, Cape Salvadore. The Winds on the Brasilian Coast. Abrolho Shoals. A Table of all the Variations observed in this Voyage. Occurrences near the Cape of Good Hope. The Course to New Holland, Sharks' Bay. The Isles and Coast, 8c. of New Holland. Their Inhabitants, Manners, Customs, Trade, &c. Their Harbours, Soil, Beasts, Birds, Fish, 8c. Trees, Plants, Fruits, &c. Illustrated with several Maps and Draughts, also, divers Birds, Fishes, and Plants not found in this part of the World, curiously Ingraven on Copper Plates. By Captain William Dampier, London, 1703. 8vo.
Could we recal the enthusiastic sensations which once operated like a spell upon our minds, when
“ Forerunner of the day,
The dazzling star of wonder shone;
Creation open'd on our earliest view,
with what delight should we dwell on the perusal of a Book of Voyages and Travels, more especially those which originate in chivalrous enterprise, are prosecuted with daring intrepidity, and maintained with enduring perseverance. But the cares, the concerns, the realities of the world have, in a great measure, deadened the romantic feeling, and age has dimmed the lustre of those glowing tints which colour life but once. However, there is a pleasure yet in store; for, as we trust our ideas are enlarged by intercourse with mankind, and our understanding matured by reading and reflection, the solidity of our present enjoyment will compensate for the bright visions of the morning of our boyhood. There, perhaps, never was an age more productive of glory to the naval annals of our country, than the Protectorate, when our fleets were struggling for, and ultimately gained the dominion of the seas; and while England, torn by the contests of civil faction, and suffering under the horrors of intestine war, gallantly defended her rights, and preserved her superiority among foreign nations. The Spaniards had already made themselves masters of Mexico and Peru, and becoming rich with the spoils of those countries, were establishing their colonies and building cities and towns; and thus offered too tempting a prize to be rejected by the adventurous spirit of the times. A number of vessels were fitted out by the merchants, and though bearing the distinguishing appellation of “privateers,” were, in fact, no better than robbers and pirates ; plundering and committing depredations wherever they came. The Spaniards, vastly superior in numerical force, yet dreaded their approach; and while possessing power to repel invasion, were ever shrinking from the contest, and frequently suffered a mere handful of men to drive them from their posts, and destroy their possessions. The communication between the Northern and Southern Oceans, (as they were then called), by the Isthmus of Darien, facilitated their projects, both by sea and land; so that little armies marched across the country to the shores of the South Sea. Here embarking in canoes, they generally seized upon the first large vessel they met with, and, having fitted her to answer their purpose, immediately commenced their operations on the western coast of America ; performing feats of valour so extraordinary, that, were they not strongly corroborated by undoubted authority, they might be deemed tales of romantic fiction. After collecting whatever spoil they could obtain, and generally suffering severe hardships, they returned home to England, by traversing the Pacific Ocean, passing
its numerous islands to those in the Chinese seas, and thence round the Cape of Good Hope, making a complete circum-navigation of the globe.
The manner of the work before us is in the style of a plain blunt sailor, and strongly displays his usual characteristics. The matter is the unembellished remarks of a powerful understanding, and an observant mind, unaided by regular education, but endeavouring to supply its wants by the information and knowledge of others. The Voyage round the World was not undertaken for the purposes of discovery, but the consequence of peculiar circumstances, arising out of a connexion with the Buccaneers; and it is worthy of observation, that a considerable portion of our geographical attainments in the New World was derived through the means of these lawless ravagers, who laid the foundation of those important acquisitions which have since been made.
It has been generally supposed, that when the mariner is once immured within his wooden walls, and the white sails are expanded to bear him to distant climes, (often for months without seeing land,) time must hang heavy on his hands, and that consequently no individual has a more favour, able opportunity for reading and reflection. This idea is in some measure erroneous; for every day at sea, as well as on shore, brings with it its laborious duties; particularly in the merchants' service, where there are but few hands, and these necessarily in constant occupation, from the captain who commands, to the seamen who obey. In the Royal Navy, however, from the number required to manœuvre the guns and work the ship, (in first rates upwards of 1000 men), the duty is more divided; every officer having his particular station according to his rank, attends to the execution of the Commander's orders, in his own division or department. Here all classes have considerable leisure, but, it is so broken in upon by occasional, and the quick return of ordinary duty, as to prevent a connected chain of thought or uninterrupted application to any literary pursuit. One half the crew alternately relieve the other every four hours on deck, and those who have the watch cannot, of course, leave their duty without subjecting themselves to punishment. The officers in succession are eight hours below and four on deck. But, if even they were disposed to study, the means are so circumscribed, for want of room, that they seldom carry more than a Bible or Prayer-book. A manof-war receives as little of luggage as possible, that she may be at all times clear for action, and that nothing may obstruct the free circulation of air, so important to the seaman's health. Thus the whole of poor Jack's worldly possessions (besides his ham
mock) are enclosed in a canvas bag about three feet deep and eighteen inches in diameter. An officer may enjoy the privacy of his cabin, but cannot boast of quiet retirement; for as the screens, (or, as they are technically called, bulk-heads), which separate him from the mess-room, are only painted canvas, silence can seldom be obtained; so that the book is soon deserted for general conversation, and the muses too frequently discarded for an old song. Yet true genius sooner or later surmounts the obstacles which oppose its progress, and will flourish even amidst the noise and confusion of a sailor's life. This is very strongly exemplified in the volumes before us, where the author overcomes every difficulty, and presents a series of descriptions and narrations during very long voyages, (one of nearly twelve years), in which he must have encountered numerous disadvantages that would have overpowered an ordinary mind.
Many writers have endeavoured to sketch the hardy son of the ocean, who sings and whistles to the storm ; but few with any success. Smollett has certainly been happy in some of his portraits, which, no doubt, were drawn from life, and though they may be perhaps considered as too highly coloured, yet they are in general faithful in their keeping, and abound with characteristic touches. But a sailor is the oddest compound in existence: his manners, his habits, his feelings, his language, are peculiar to himself alone. He displays the most noble and exalted virtues, when roused into exertion; and but too frequently indulges in gross habits and degrading vices. He is a child in sympathetic feeling, yet a stern hero in the hour of danger : undauntedly faces and defies death upon deck, amidst the blood and slaughter of battle ; and yet, shrinks with indescribable apprehensions, on shore, at the sight of a coffin : undergoes the most severe privations, and is engaged in incessant toil, to obtain the wealth which he dissipates with generous profusion and thoughtless extravagance. He will listen to a tale of distress (if not too long) with affected apathy, while the tears are starting from his eyes; often accost the object of his compassion with imprecations, and swearing he or she does not deserve a "copper,” give a guinea; only requiring in return, that the party relieved shall not bother him about gratitude. Interrupt him not, and he will talk for ever : ask a few questions, and you hear no more : seem to believe every thing he says, and you will gain a true statement; doubt his word, and he will indulge you with preposterous falsehood. Though fond of society, his greatest punishment is to be cast into polite company, who are either his superiors in rank or education. Writing is his aversion; and, generally, all letters that quit the ship
are penned by the same hand, precisely in the same style, with only the alteration of names. He is eager in his desire of gaining information, yet averse to all study, which is as incompatible with his genius, as Euclid would be with the humours of a dancing master. Ready at all times for any enterprise, whether sanctioned or not by the law of nations, so that it does but promise something in which he can display his peculiarities.
William Dampier was born in the county of Somerset, in the year 1652, and was the descendant of a very respectable family: He was not originally intended for the naval profession; but living at the time when the name of Blake (the Nelson of the day) was the pride of England, and the terror of her foes, his young heart swelled with the enthusiasm of joining the gallant band. Being left an orphan, he commenced his nautical life about the age of eighteen by a trip to France, and thence to Newfoundland; but, disliking the rigour of this climate, shortly after his return sailed in an Indiaman to the island of Java. In this voyage he gained some knowledge of navigation, and returned home a short time previous to the attack by Sir Robert Holmes on the Dutch Smyrna fleet in 1672, which, from a feeling of jealousy and avarice, terminated neither in the advancement of that officer's honour nor fortune. Dampier remained some time unemployed, till, sailor-like, weary of the shore, he entered into the service of his country, under the brave and resolute Sir Edward Sprague, and fought in two engagements against the Dutch; being compelled, through illness, to remain a spectator of a third, which proved fatal to his gallant captain. At the close of the war, he accepted an offer to manage a plantation belonging to a Colonel Hellier, in the island of Jamaica ; and sailed, in 1674, being then twenty-two years of age. The first land they made was Barbadoes, the easternmost of the Carribee Isles.
When the English landed here shortly after 1625, they found it the most savage and destitute place they had hitherto visited; without beasts of pasture or prey, with neither fruit nor herb, nor root fit for supporting existence. This unpromising appearance did not deter some individuals from attempting to settle; and by unremitting perseverance, as the climate was good and the soil fertile, they at last contrived to make it yield them support. They first endeavoured to raise tobacco; but this not answering their expectations, they planted cotton and indigo, which gained them considerable profits. Very little sugar was made till 1650, when many persons disliking the usurpation of Cromwell, raised all the money they could get on their estates, and furnishing themselves with necessary materials, quitted England for Barbadoes, where they erected sugar-works, and became extremely prosperous. It now abounds