Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/32

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PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

in 1511 saw and described a portion of the south-west coast. In the absence of any fuller information on the subject, the honour of discovering New Guinea falls to these two adventurers. Fifteen years later another Portuguese navigator, Don Jorges Menenes, was voyaging from Malacca to the Moluccas, and encountering a storm, was driven out of his course to the eastward, and came upon the great island, where, finding a safe and convenient harbour, he remained for a month to refit his shattered vessel. He named the island Papua, a Malayan expression for black or curly hair, which is a very marked feature of the native population. Under that name New Guinea is shown on a chart published in Venice in 1554. Another Portuguese mariner visited the island in 1528, and gave it the high sounding title of the Isla del Oro, or Island of Gold, from a belief that it abounded in the precious metals. But the honour of giving the island the name it will bear permanently falls to Inigo de Retez, a Spanish sailor, who in 1545 sailed 250 miles along the northern coasts, and, thinking that he saw in the appearance of the country a resemblance to the Guinea coast on the west of Africa, called it Nueva Guinea. The next we hear of the place is an account given by Torres of the southern portion and its inhabitants, whom he describes as being "dark in colour, naked except having some clothing round the middle, and armed with clubs and darts ornamented with tufts of feathers." Schouten, a Dutch navigator, discovered some volcanoes in the island in 1616. Twenty-seven years later Abel Janez Tasman, the greatest of the Dutch navigators and the discoverer of Tasmania (which he named Van Dieman's Land) and of New Zealand, visited and minutely examined a portion of the west coast. On the New Year's Day of the year 1700, William Dampier, the prince of English maritime adventurers, voyaging in quest of new lands, sighted New Guinea, and never left it until he had sailed completely round it, although his vessel (named the "Roebuck") was both old and leaky. His account of the place and people is very racily written, and was probably read by De Foe before he wrote "Robinson Crusoe." "The natives," he says, "are very black; their short hair is dyed of various colours—red, white, and yellow; they have broad, round faces with