Category Archives: Explorations

Item of the Day: Bougainville’s Voyage (1772)

Full Title:  A Voyage Round the World.  Performed by Order of His Most Christian Majesty, In the Years 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769.  By Lewis De Bougainville, Colonel of Foot, and Commodore of the Expedition in the Frigate La Boudeuse, and the Store-ship L’Etoile.  Translated from the French by John Reinhold Forster, F. A. S.  Dublin:  Printed for J. Exshaw, H. Saunders, J. Potts, W. Sleater, D. Chamberlaine, E. Lynch, J. Williams, R. Moncrieffe, T. Walker, and C. Jenkins.  MDCCLXXII.

A Voyage Round the World.  Part the First.  Departure from France–clearing the Straits of Magalhaens. 

Chap. I.

Departure of the Boudeuse from Nantes; puts in at Brest; run from Brest to Montevideo; junction with the Spanish frigates, intended for taking possession of the Malouines, or Falkland’s islands.

In February 1764, France began to make a settlement on the Isles of Malouines.  Spain reclaimed these isles as belonging to the continent of South America; and her right to them having been acknowledged by the king, I received orders to deliver our settlement to the Spaniards, and to proceed to the East Indies by crossing the South Seas between the Tropics.  For this expedition I received the command of the frigate la Boudeuse, of twenty-six twelve pounders, and I was to be joined at the Malouines by the store-ship l’Etoile, which was intended to bring me the provisions necessary for a voyage of such length, and to follow me during the whole expedition.  Several circumstances retarded the junction of this store-vessel, and consequently made my whole voyage near eight months longer than it would otherwise have been. 

In the beginning of November, 1766, I went to Nantes, where the Boudeuse had just been built, and where M. Duclos Guyot, a captain of a fireship, my second officer was fitting her out.  The 5th of this month we came down from Painbeuf to Mindin, to finish the equipment of her; and on the 15th we sailed from this road for the river de la Plata.  There I was to find two Spanish frigates, called le Esmeralda and le Liebre, that had left Ferrol the 17th of October, and whose commander was ordered to receive the Isles Malouines, or Falkland’s islands, in the name of his Catholic majesty.

The 17th in the morning we suffered a sudden gust of wind from W. S. W. to N. W. it grew more violent in the night, which we passed under our bare poles, with our lower-yards lowered, the clue of the fore sail, under which we tried before, having been carried away.  The 18th, at four in the morning, our fore-top-mast broke about the middle of its height; the main-top-mast resisted till eight o-clock, when it broke in the cap, and carried away the head of the main mast.  This last event made it impossible to continue our voyage, and I determined to put into Brest, where we arrived the 21st of November.

This squall of wind, and the confusion it had occasioned, gave me room to make the following observation upon the state and qualities of the frigate which I commanded.

1. The prodigious tumbling home of her top-timbers, leaving too little open to the angles which the shrouds make with the masts, the latter were not sufficiently supported. 

2. The preceding fault became of more consequence by the nature of the ballast, which we had been obliged to take in, on account of the prodigious quantity of provisions we had stowed.  Forty tons of ballast, distibuted on both sides of the kelson, and at a short distance from it, and a dozen twelve-pounders placed at the bottom of the pump-well (we had only fourteen upon deck) added a considerable weight, which being much below the center of gravity, and almost entirely rested upon the kelson, put the masts in danger, if there had been any rolling.   

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, France, Posted by Matthew Williams, South America, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Commodore Byron’s An Account of a Voyage Round the World (1778)

 Full Title: An Account of a Voyage round the World, in the Years MDCCLXIV, MDCCLXV, and MDCCLXVI. By the Honourable Commodore Byron, in His Majesty’s Ship the Dolphin.

Found In: An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn Up from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq; By John Hawkesworth, LL.D. In Three Volumes. Illustrated with Cuts, and a great Variety of Charts and Maps relative to Countries now first discovered, or hitherto but imperfectly known. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand, MDCCLXXIII. [1778]

CHAP. I.

The Passage from the Downs to Rio de Janeiro.

(The longitude in this voyage is reckoned from the meridian of London, west to 180 degrees, and east afterwards.)

On the 21st of June 1764, I sailed from the Downs, with his Majesty’s ship the Dolphin, and the Tamar frigate, which I had received orders to take under my command: as I was coming down the river, the Dolphin got a-ground; I therefore put to Plymouth, where she was docked, but did not appear to have received any damage. At this place we changed some of our men, and having paid the people two months wages in advance, I hoisted the broad pendant, and sailed again on the 3d of July; on the 4th we were off the Lizard, and made the best our our way with a fine breeze, but had the mortification to find the Tamar a very heavy sailer. In the night of Friday the 6th, the officer of the first watch saw either a ship on fire, or an extraordinary phenomenon which greatly resembled it, at some distance: it continued to blaze for about half an hour, and then disappeared. In the evening of Thursday, July 12th, we saw the rocks near the island of Madeira, which our people call the Deserters; from desertes, a name which has been given them from their barren and desolate appearance: the next day we stood in for the road of Funchiale, where, about three o’clock in the afternoon, we came to an anchor. In the morning of Saturday the 14th, I waited upon the governor, who received me with great politeness, and saluted me with eleven guns, which I returned from the ship. The next day, he returned my visit at the house of the Consul, upon which I saluted him with eleven guns, which he returned from the fort. I found here his Majesty’s ship the Crown, and the Ferret sloop, who also saluted the broad pendant. Having completed our water, and procured all the refreshment I was able for the companies of both the ships, every man having twenty pounds weight of onions for his sea stock, we weighted anchor on Thursday the 19th, and proceeded on our voyage. On Saturday the 21st, we made the island of Palma, one of the Canaries, and soon after examining our water, we found it would be necessary to touch the whole of our course from the Lizard, we observed that no fish followed the ship, which I judged to be owing to her being sheathed with copper. By the 26th, our water was become foul, and stunk intolerably, but we purified it with a machine, which had been put on board for that purpose: it was a kind of ventilator, by which air forced through the water in a continued stream, as long as it was necessary.

In the morning of the 27th, we made the island of Sal, one of the Cape de Verds, and seeing several turtle upon the water, we hoisted out our jolly boat, and attempted to strike them, but they all went down before our people could come within reach of them. On the morning of the 28th, we were very near the island of Bona Vista, the next day off the Isle of May, and on Monday the 30th, we came to an anchor in Port Praya bay. The rainy season was already set in, which renders this place very unsafe; a large swell that rolls in from the southward, makes a frightful surf upon the shore, and there is reason every hour to expect a tornado, of which, as it is very violent, and blows directly in, the consequences are likely to be fatal; so that after the 15th of August no ship comes hither till the rainy season is over, which happens in November; for this reason I made all possible haste to fill my water and get away. I procured three bullocks for the people, but they were little better than carrion, and the weather was so hot, that the flesh stunk in a few hours after they were killed.

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Lesseps’ Travels in Kamtschatka (1790)

Full Title:

Travels in Kamtschatka, During the Years 1787 and 1788.  Translated from the French of M. De Lesseps, Consul of France, and Interpreter to the Count de la Perouse, Now Engaged in a Voyage Round the World, By Command of His Most Christian Majesty.  In Two Volumes.  Volume I.  London: Printed For J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-Yard.  1790.

Travels in Kamtschatka, &c.

I have scarcely completed my twenty-fifth year, and am arrived at the most memorable era of my life.  However long, or however happy may be my future career, I doubt whether it will ever be my fate to be employed in so glorious an expedition as that in which two French frigates, the Boussole, and the Astrolabe, are at this moment engaged; the first commanded by count de Perouse, chief of the expedition, and the second by viscount de Langle.

The report of this voyage round the world, created too general and lively an interest, for direct news of these illustrious navigators, reclaimed by their country and by all Europe from the seas they traverse, not to be expected with as much impatience as curiosity.

How flattering is it to my heart, after having obtained from count de la Perouse the advantage of accompanying him for more than two years, to be farther indebted to him for the honour of conveying his dispatches over land into France!  The more I reflect upon this additional proof of his confidence, the more I feel what such an embassy requires, and how far I am deficient; and I can only attribute his preference, to the necessity of choosing for this journey, a person who had resided in Russia, and could speak its language.

On the 6 September 1787, the king’s frigates entered the port of Avatscha, or Saint Peter and Saint Paul, at the southern extremity of the peninsula of Kamtschatka.  The 29, I was ordered to quit the Astrolabe; and the same day count de la Perouse gave me his dispatches and instructions.  His regard for me would not permit him to confine his cares to the most satisfactory arrangements for the safety and convenience of my journey; he went further, and gave me the affectionate counsels of a father, which will never be obliterated from my heart.  Viscount de Langle had the goodness to join his also, which proved equally beneficial to me.   

Let me permitted in this place to pay my just tribute of gratitude to the faithful companion of the dangers and the glory of count de la Perouse, and his rival in every other court, as well as that of France, for having acted towards me, upon all occasions, as a counsellor, a friend, and a father. 

In the evening I was to take my leave of the commander and his worthy colleague.  Judge what I suffered, when I conducted them back to the boats that waited for them.  I was incapable of speaking, or of quitting them; they embraced me in turns, and my tears too plainly told them the situation of my mind.  The officers who were on shore, received also my adieux: they were affected, offered prayers to heaven for my safety, and gave me every consolation and succour that their friendship could dictate.  My regret at leaving them cannot be described; I was torn from their arms, and found myself in those of colonel Kasloff-Ougrenin, governor general of Okotsk and Kamtschatka, to whom count de la Perouse had recommended me, more as his son, than an officer charged with his dispatches. 

At this moment commenced my obligations to the Russian governor.  I knew not then all the sweetness of his character, incessantly disposed to acts of kindness, and which I have since had so many reasons to admire.  He treated my feelings with the utmost address.  I saw the tear of sympathy in his eye upon the departure of the boats, which we followed as far out as our sight would permit; and in conducting me to his house, he spared no pains to divert me from my melancholy reflections.  To conceive the frightful void which my mind experienced at this moment, it is necessary to be in my situation, and left alone in these scarcely discovered regions, four thousand leagues from my native land: without calculating this enormous distance, the dreary aspect of the country sufficiently prognositicated what I should have to suffer during my long and perilous route; but the reception which I met with from the inhabitants, and the civilities of M. Kasloff and the other Russian officers, made me by degrees less sensible to the departure of my countrymen. 

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Filed under 1790's, Eighteenth century, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Cook’s Voyages (1777), continued, part 3.

Full Title: A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution. In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships. In Two Volumes. Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand. MDCCLXXVII.

Chap. VII.

Sequel of the Passage from New Zealand to Easter Island, and Transactions there, with an Account of an Expedition to discover the Inland Part of the Country, and a Description of some of the surprising gigantic Statues found in the Island.

[Continued from earlier post]

On the East side, near the sea, they met with three platforms of stone-work, or rather the ruins of them. On each had stood four of those large statues, but they were all fallen down from two of them, and also one from the third; all except one who were broken by the fall, or in some measure defaced. Mr. Wales measured this one, and found it to be fifteen feet in length, and six feet broad over the shoulders. Each statue had on its head a large cylindric stone of a red colour, wrought perfectly round. The one they measured, which was not by far the largest, was fifty-two inches high, and sixty-six in diameter. In some of the upper corner of the cylinder was taken off in a sort of concave quarter-round; but in others the cylinder was entire.

From this place they followed the direction of the coast to the N. E., the man with the flag still leading the way. For about three miles they found the country very barren, and in some places stripped of the soil to the bare rock, which seemed to be a poor sort of iron ore. Beyond this, they came to the most fertile part of the island they saw, it being interspersed with plantations of potatoes, sugar-canes, and plantain trees, and these not so much encumbered with stones as those which they had seen before; but they could find no water except what the natives twice or thrice brought them, which, though brackish and stinking, was rendered acceptable, by the extremity of their thirst. They also passed some huts, the owners of which met them with roasted potatoes and sugar-canes, and placing themselves ahead of the foremost of the party, (for they marched in a line in order to have the benefit of the path) gave one to each man as he passed by. They observed the same method in distributing the water which they brought; and were particularly careful that the foremost did not drink too much, least none should be left for the hindmost. But at the very same time these were relieving the thirsty and hungry, there were not wanting others, who endeavoured to steal from them the very things which had been given them. At last, to prevent worse consequences, they were obliged to fire a load of small shot at one who was so audacious as to snatch from one of the men the bag which contained every thing they carried with them. The shot hit him on the back; on which he dropped the bag, ran a little way, and then fell; but he afterwards got up and walked, and what became of him they knew not, nor whether he was much wounded. As this affair occasioned some delay, and drew the natives together, they presently saw the man who had hitherto led the way, and one or two more, coming running towards them; but instead of stopping when they came up, they continued to run round them, repeating, in a kind manner, a few words, until our people set forwards again. Then their old guide hoisted his flag, leading the way as before, and none ever attempted to steal from them the whole day afterwards.

As they passed along, they observed on a hill a number of people collected together, some of whom had spears in their hands; but, on being called to by their countrymen, they dispersed; except a few, amongst whom was one seemingly of some note. He was a stout, well-made man, with a fine open countenance, his face was painted, his body punctured, and he wore a better Ha hou, or cloth, than the rest. He saluted them as he came up, by stretching out his arms with both hands clinched, lifting them over his head, opening them wide, and then letting them fall gradually down to his sides. To this man, whom they understood to be the chief of the island, their other friend gave his white flag; and he gave it to another, who carried it before them the remainder of the day.

Towards the eastern end of the island, they met with a well whose water was perfectly fresh, being considerably above the level of the sea; but it was dirty, owing to the filthiness or cleanliness (call it what you will) of the natives, who never go to drink without washing themselves all over as soon as they have done; and it so many of them are together, the first leaps right into the middle of the hole, drinks, and washes himself without the least ceremony; after which another takes his place and does the same.

They observed that this side of the island was full of those gigantic statues so often mentioned; some placed in groupes on platforms of masonry; others single, fixed only in the earth, and that not deep; and these latter are, in general, much larger than the others. Having measured one, which had fallen down, they found it very near twenty-seven feet long, and upwards of eight feet over the breast or shoulders; and yet this appeared considerably short of the size of one they saw standing: its shade, a little past two o’clock, being sufficient to shelter all the party, consisting of near thirty persons, from the rays of the sun. Here they stopped to dine; after which they repaired to a hill, from whence they saw all the East and North shores of the isle, on which they could not see either bay or creek fit for a boat to land in; nor the least signs of fresh water. What the natives brought them here was real salt water; but they observed that some of them drank plentifully of it, so far will necessity and custom get the better of nature! On this account they were obliged to return to the last mentioned well; where, after having quenched their thirst, they directed their route across the island towards the ship, as it was now four o’clock…

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Cook’s Voyages (1777), continued, part 2.

Full Title: A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775.  Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution.  In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships.  In Two Volumes.  Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters.  Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand.  MDCCLXXVII.

Chap. VII.

Sequel of the Passage from New Zealand to Easter Island, and Transactions there, with an Account of an Expedition to discover the Inland Part of the Country, and a Description of some of the surprising gigantic Statues found in the Island.

[Continued from previous post]

Before I sailed from England, I was informed that a Spanish ship had visited this isle in 1769.  Some signs of it were seen among the people now about us; one man had a pretty good broad brimmed European hat on; another had a grego jacket; and another a red silk handkerchief.  They also seemed to know the use of a musquet, and to stand in much awe of it; but this they probably learned from Roggewin, who, if we are to believe the authors of that voyage, left them sufficient tokens.

Near the place where we landed, were some of those statues before mentioned, which I shall describe in another place.  The country appeared barren and without wood; there were, nevertheless, several plantations of potatoes, plantains and sugar-canes; we also saw some fowls, and found a well of brackish water.  As these were articles we were in want of, and as the natives seemed not unwilling to part with them, I resolved to stay a day or two.  With this view, I repaired on board, and brought the ship to an anchor in thirty-two fathoms water; the bottom of a fine dark sand. Our station was about a mile from the nearest shore, the South point of a small bay, in the bottom of which is the sandy beach before mentioned, being E. S. E., distant one mile and a half.  The two rocky islots lying off the South point of the island, were just shut behind a point to the North of them; they bore South 3/4 West, four miles distant; and the other extreme of the island bore N. 25º E., distant about six miles.  But the best mark for this anchoring-place is the beach; because it is the only one on this side of the island. In the afternoon, we got on board a few casks of water, and opened a trade with the natives for such things as they had to dispose of.  Some of the gentlemen also made an excursion into the country to see what it produced; and returned again in the evening, with the loss only of a hat, which one of the natives snatched off the head of one of the party. 

Early next morning, I sent Lieutenants Pickersgill and Edgcumbe with a party of men, accompanied by several of the gentlemen to examine the country.  As I was not sufficiently recovered from my late illness to make one of the party, I was obliged to content myself with remaining at the landing place among the natives.  We had, at one time, a pretty brisk trade with them for potatoes, which we observed they dug up out an adjoing plantation; but this traffic, which was very advantageous to us, was soon put a stop to, by the owner (as we supposed) of the plantation coming down, and driving all the people out of it.  By this we concluded, that he had been robbed of his property, and that they were not less scrupulous of stealing from one another, than from us, on whom they practiced every little fraud they could think on, and generally with success; for we no sooner detected them in on, than they found out another.  About seven o’clock in the evening, the party I had sent into the country returned, after having been over the greatest part of the island. 

They left the beach about nine o’clock in the morning, and took a path which led across to the S. E. side of the island, followed by a great crowd of the natives, who pressed much upon them.  But they had not proceeded far, before a middle-aged man, punctured from head to foot, and his face painted with a sort of white pigment, appeared with a spear in his hand, and walked along-side of them, making signs to his countrymen to keep at a distance, and not to molest our people.  When he had pretty well effected this, he hoisted a piece of white cloth on his spear, placed himself in the front, and led the way, with his ensign of peace, as they understood it to be.  For the greatest part of the distance across, the ground had but a barren appearance, being dry hard clay, and every where covered with stones; but notwithstanding this, there were several large tracks planted with potatoes; and some plantain walks, but they saw no fruit on any of the trees.  Towards the highest part of the South end of the island, the soil, which was a fine red earth, seemed much better; bore a longer grass; and was not covered with stones as in the other parts; but here they saw neither house nor plantation. 

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Cook’s Voyages (1777)

Full Title: A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775.  Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution.  In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships.  In Two Volumes.  Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters.  Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand.  MDCCLXXVII.

Chap. VII.

Sequel of the Passage from New Zealand to Easter Island, and Transactions there, with an Account of an Expedition to discover the Inland Part of the Country, and a Description of some of the surprising gigantic Statues found in the Island.

At eight o’clock in the morning of the 11th, land was seen, from the mast-head, bearing West; and at noon from the deck, extending from W. 3/4 N. to W. by S., about twelve leagues distant.  I made no doubt that this was Davis’s Land, or Easter Island; as its appearance from this situation, corresponded very well with Wafer’s account; and we expected to have seen the low sandy isle that Davis fell in with, which would have been a confirmation; but in this we were disappointed.  At seven o’clock in the evening, the island bore from N.  62º West to North 87º West, about five leagues distant; in which situation we sounded without finding ground with a line of an hundred and forty fathoms.  Here we spent the night, having alternately light airs and calms, till ten o’clock the next morning, when a breeze sprung up at W. S. W.  With this we stretched in for the land; and by the help of our glass, discovered people, and some of those colossian statues or idols mentioned by the authors of Roggewin’s Voyage.  At four o’clock in the P. M. we were half a league S. S. E. and N. N. W. of the N. E. point of the island; and, on sounding, found thirty-five fathoms, a dark sandy bottom.  I now tacked and endeavoured to get into what appeared to be a bay, on the West side of the point or S. E. side of the island; but before this could be accomplished, night came upon us, and we stood on and off, under the land, till the next morning; having soundings from seventy-five to an hundred and ten fathoms, the same bottom as before.

On the 13th, about eight o’clock in the morning, the wind, which had been variable most part of the night, fixed at S. E. , and blew in squalls, accompanied by rain; but it was not long before the weather became fair.  As the wind now blew right on the S. E. shore, which does not afford that shelter I at first thought, I resolved to look for anchorage on the West and N. W. sides of the island.  With this view I bore up round the South point; off which lie two small islots; the one, nearest the point, high and peaked, and the other low and flattish.  After getting round the point, and coming before a sandy beach, we found soundings thirty and forty fathoms, sandy ground, and about one mile from the shore.  Here a canoe conducted by two men, came off to us.  They brought with them a bunch of plantains, which they sent into the ship by a rope, and then they returned ashore.  This gave us a good opinion of the islanders, and inspired us with hopes of getting some refreshments, which we were in great want of. 

I continued to range along the coast, till we opened the northern point of the isle, without seeing a better anchoring place than the one we had passed. We, therefore, tacked, and plied back to it; and, in the mean time, sent away the master, in a boat to sound the coast.  He returned about five o’clock in the evening; and soon after, we came to an anchor in thirty-six fathoms of water, before the sandy beach above mentioned.  As the master drew near the shore with the boat, one of the natives swam off to her, and insisted on coming aboard the ship, where he remained two nights and a day.  The first thing he did after coming aboard was to measure the length of the ship, by fathoming her from the tafferel to the stern, and, as he counted the fathoms, we observed that he called the numbers by the same names they do at Otaheite; nevertheless his language was, in a manner, wholly unintelligible to all of us. 

Having anchored too near the edge of the bank, a fresh breeze from the land, about three o’clock the next morning, drove us off it; on which the anchor was heaved up, and sail made to regain the bank again.  While the ship was plying in, I went ashore, accompanied by some of the gentlemen, to see what the island was likely to afford us.  We landed at the sandy beach, where some hundreds of the natives were assembled, and who were so impatient to see us, that many of them swam off to meet the boats.  Not one of them had so much as a stick or weapon of any sort in their hands.  After distributing a few trinkets among them, we made signs for something to eat; on which they brought down a few potatoes, plantains, and sugar-canes, and exchanged them for nails, looking-glasses, and pieces of cloth.

We presently learned that they were as expert thieves, and as tricking in their exchanges, as any people we had yet met with.  It was with some difficulty we could keep the hats on our heads; but hardly possible to keep any thing in our pockets, not even what themselves had sold us; for they would watch every opportunity to snatch it from us, so that we sometimes bough the same thing two or three times over, and after all did not get it.     

   

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: An Account of the European Settlements (1758)

Full Title:  An Account of the European Settlements in America. In Six Parts. I. A Short History of the Discovery of that Part of the World.  II.  The Manners and Customs of the Original Inhabitants.  III.  Of the Spanish Settlements.  IV. Of the Portuguese.  V.  Of the French, Dutch, and Danish.  VI.  Of the English.  Each Part contains An Accurate Description of the Settlements in it, their Extent, Climate, Productions, Trade, Genius and Disposition of their Inhabitants:  the Interests of the several Powers of Europe with respect to those Settlements; and their Political and Commercial views with regard to each other.  Vol. II.  The Second Edition, with Improvements.  London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall. MDCCLVIII.

PART II. The Manners of the Americans.

CHAP. I.

The persons of the Americans. Their dress and way of living. Their manner of covering. Their hospitality. Their temper. Their religion and superstitions. Their medicince.

The Aborigines of America, throughout the whole extent of the two vast continents they inhabit, and amongst the infinite number of nations and tribes into which they are divided, differ very little from each other in their manners and customs; and they all form a very striking picture of the most distant antiquity. Whoever considers the Americans of this day, not only studies the manners of a remote present nation, but he studies, in some measure, the antiquities of all nations; from which no mean lights may be thrown upon many parts of the ancient authors, both sacred and profane. The learned Lafiatu has laboured this point with great success, in a work which deserves to be read amongst us much more than I find it is.

The people of America are tall, and strait in their limbs beyond the proportion of most nations: their bodies are strong; but of a species of strength rather fitted to endure much hardship, than to continue long at any servile work, by which they are quickly consumed; it is the strength of a beast of prey, rather than that of a beast of burthen. Their bodies and heads are flattish, the effect of art; their features are regular, but their countenances fierce; their hair long, black, lank, and as strong as that of a horse. No beards. The colour of their skin a reddish brown, admired amongst them and improved by the constant use of bear’s fat and paint. 

When the Europeans first came into America, they found the people quite naked, except those parts which it is common for the most uncultivated people to conceal. Since that time they have generally a coarse blanket to cover them, which they buy from us. The whole fashion of their lives is of a piece; hardy, poor, and squalid; and their education from their infancy is solely directed to fit their bodies for this mode of life, and to form their minds to inflict and endure the greatest evils. Their only occupations are hunting and war. Agriculture is left to the women. Merchandize they contemn. When their hunting season is past, which they go through with much patience, and in which they exert great ingenuity, they pass they rest of their time in an entire indolence. They sleep half the day in their huts, they loiter and jest among their friends, and they observe no bounds or decency in their eating and drinking. Before we discovered them they wanted spiritous liquors; but now, the acquirement of these is what gives a spur to their industry, and enjoyment to their repose. This is the principal end they pursue in their treaties with us; and from this they suffer inexpressible calamities; for having once begun to drink, they can preserve no measure, but continue a succession of drunkenness as long as their means of procuring liquor lasts. In this condition they lie exposed on the earth to all the inclemency of the seasons, which wastes them by a train of the most fatal disorders; they perish in rivers and marshes; they tumble into the fire; they quarrel, and very frequently murder each other; and in short, excess in drinking, which with us is rather immoral than very destructive, amongst this uncivilized people, who have not art enough to guard against the consequence of their vices, is a public calamity. The few amongst them who live free from this evil, enjoy the reward of their temperance in a robust and healthy old age. The disorders which a complicated luxury has introduced and supports in Europe, are strangers here.  

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Filed under 1750's, American Indians, Colonial America, Explorations, History, Posted by Matthew Williams