1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/La Pérouse, Jean-François de Galaup

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LA PÉROUSE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS DE GALAUP, Comte de (1741–c. 1788), French navigator, was born near Albi, on the 22nd of August 1741. His family name was Galaup, and La Pérouse or La Peyrouse was an addition adopted by himself from a small family estate near Albi. As a lad of eighteen he was wounded and made prisoner on board the “Formidable” when it was captured by Admiral Hawke in 1759; and during the war with England between 1778 and 1783 he served with distinction in various parts of the world, more particularly on the eastern coasts of Canada and in Hudson’s Bay, where he captured Forts Prince of Wales and York (August 8th and 21st, 1782). In 1785 (August 1st) he sailed from Brest in command of the French government expedition of two vessels (“La Boussole” under La Pérouse himself, and “L’Astrolabe,” under de Langle) for the discovery of the North-West Passage, vainly essayed by Cook on his last voyage, from the Pacific side. He was also charged with the further exploration of the north-west coasts of America, and the north-east coasts of Asia, of the China and Japan seas, the Solomon Islands and Australia; and he was ordered to collect information as to the whale fishery in the southern oceans and as to the fur trade in North America. He reached Mount St Elias, on the coast of Alaska, on the 23rd of June 1786. After six weeks, marked by various small discoveries, he was driven from these regions by bad weather; and after visiting the Hawaiian Islands, and discovering Necker Island (November 5th, 1786), he crossed over to Asia (Macao, January 3rd, 1787). Thence he passed to the Philippines, and so to the coasts of Japan, Korea and “Chinese Tartary,” where his best results were gained. Touching at Quelpart, he reached De Castries Bay, near the modern Vladivostok, on the 28th of July 1787; and on the 2nd of August following discovered the strait, still named after him, between Sakhalin and the Northern Island of Japan. On the 7th of September he put in at Petropavlovsk in Kamchatka, where he was well received by special order of the Russian empress, Catherine II.; thence he sent home Lesseps, overland, with the journals, notes, plans and maps recording the work of the expedition. He left Avacha Bay on the 29th of September, and arrived at Mauna in the Samoan group on the 8th of December; here de Langle and ten of the crew of the “Astrolabe” were murdered. He quitted Samoa on the 14th of December, touched at the Friendly Islands and Norfolk Island and arrived in Botany Bay on the 26th of January 1788. From this place, where he interchanged courtesies with some of the English pioneers in Australia, he wrote his last letter to the French Ministry of Marine (February 7th). After this no more was heard of him and his squadron till in 1826 Captain Peter Dillon found the wreckage of what must have been the “Boussole” and the “Astrolabe” on the reefs of Vanikoro, an island to the north of the New Hebrides. In 1828 Dumont d’Urville visited the scene of the disaster and erected a monument (March 14th).

See Milet Mureau, Voyage de la Pérouse autour du monde (Paris, 1797) 4 vols.; Gérard, Vies . . . des . . . marins français (Paris, 1825), 197–200; Peter Dillon, Narrative . . . of a Voyage in the South Seas for the Discovery of the Fate of La Pérouse (London, 1829), 2 vols.; Dumont d’Urville, Voyage pittoresque autour du monde; Quoy and Paul Gaimard, Voyage de . . . l’Astrolabe; Domeny de Rienzi, Océanie; Van Tenac, Histoire général de la marine, iv. 258-264; Moniteur universel, 13th of February 1847.