Early Voyages to Terra Australis/Extract from Sloan MS., 3235
EXTRACT FROM SLOAN MS. 3236, ENTITLED "THE ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM DAMPIER,
WITH OTHERS [1686-87], WHO LEFT CAPTAIN SHERPE IN THE SOUTH SEAS,
AND TRAVALED BACK OVER LAND THROUGH THE COUNTRY OF DARIEN," pp. 445 to 450.
We stood away to the southward, intending to see New Holland and mett nothing worth observing till the first day of December, and then being in latit. 13° 50', wee were close aboard a showle which wee lay by for in the night; it lyes S. by W. from the N.W. end of Timore about seventy leagues. Wee steered to weather it but could not therefore bore away to the eastward of it; it lyes in a triangle with many sharp rocks about water, and on the south side is a small spitt of land.
This showle is laid downe within twenty leagues of New Holland due south, but wee made our course south, yett run into latitude 16° 55' before wee made land which is forty odd leagues; so that by our runn, except wee had a current against us which wee did not perceive, New Holland is laid downe nearer then it should be to those islands in the south seas by forty leagues.
The fourth day of January 1687-88 wee fell in with the land to New Holland in latitude 16° 55', the land low and a deepe sandy bay, but no shelter for us therefore wee runn downe along the shore which lyes N E. by E. about twelve leagues; then wee came to a point with an island by it, but soe neare the maine that wee could not goe within it a league; to the westward of this pointe is a showle a league from the maine.
From this pointe the land runs more easterly and makes a deepe bay with many ilands in it; the sixth day wee came into this bay, and anchored about foare miles to the eastward of the forementioned pointe, in eighteen fathome water, a mile from the shoare, good clean sand.
I drew a drafte of this land and the bay where we road, but at the Necquebar*, when we oversett our prows, I lost it and some others that were not in my book; those that I had placed in my book were all preserved but all wett.
Wee sent our boate ashoare to speak with the natives but they would not abide our comeing, soe wee spent three dayes in seekeing their houses, being in hopes to allure them with toyes to a comerce.
For wee begun to be scarce of provision and did not questione but these people could relieve us; but after all our search neare the sea side and in the country wee found ourselves disapointed,' for the people of this country have noe houses nor any thing like a house neither have they any sorte of graine or pulse; fresh they have not nor any sorte of cattle not soe much as catt or dog, for indeed they have noe occasion of such creatures unless to eat them, for of that food which they have they leave no fragments. They have noe sorte of fowle neither tame nor wild for the latter I saw very few in the country neither did wee see any kind of wilde beast in the country but the track of one.
* Nicobar. The circumstance of their canoe upsetting off this island, and their books and drafts being all wetted and some of them lost, is also mentioned in the printed editions of Dampier's voyage.
I believe there are not any of the natives in the country farm from the sea, for they gett their living out of sea without nett or hooke; but they build wares with stones cross the bays, and every low water whether night or day they search those wares for what the sea hath left behinde, which is all that they have to depend on for livelyhood; some times they are bountyfully rewarded for their paines' and at other times providence seemes to be nigardly, scarce giving them a taste instead of a belly full.' The fish which they take they carry home to their famelyes whoe lye behinde a few, boughs stuck up to keep the wind from them. All that are of age to search those wares goe downe at the time of low water, leaving only the old sicke weake people and children at home, who make a fire against the coming of their friends to broyle their fish, which they soone devoure without salt or bread Their habitations are neare those wares and remove as occasion serves, for they are not troubled with household goods or clothes, all that they weare is only a piece of rind about their wastes, under which they thrust either a hand full of long grasse or some small boughs before to cover their privityes.
They are people of good stature but very thin and leane I judge for want of foode. They are black jett I believe their haires would be long if it was corned out, but for want of combs it is matted up like a negroes haire. They have all that I saw, two fore teeth of their upper jaw wanting both men, women and children.
They swim from one iland to the other or toe and from the maine and have for armes a lance sharpened at one end and burned in the fire to harden it, and a sword made with wood, which is sharpe on one side; these weapons, I judge, are cutt with stone hatchetts, as I have seene in the West India.
The country is all low land, with sand hills by the sea side; within it is a wood, but not extraordinary thicke; the chiefest trees are dragon trees, which are bigger than any other trees in the woods: wee found neither river, brooke, nor springs, but made wells in the sand, which aforded as good water, where wee watered our ships.
The first spring after wee came hither wee hall'd our ship into a sandy bay, where shee lay dry all the neepe tides, for it flows there right up and downe above five fathome; the flood setts north by east and the ebb setts S. by W.
There are many turtle and manatoe in this bay, which our strikers supplyed us with all the time we lay there, and one time they mett some of the natives swimming from one iland to the other and tooke up foure of them and brought aboard, whoe tooke noe notice of any thing that wee had noe more than a bruite would; wee gave them some victualls, which they greedily devoured, and being sett out of the ship ran away as fast as their leggs (for the ship was now dry on the sand) could carry them. Wee mett divers of them on the ilands, for they could not run from us there, but the women and children would be frighted at our approach.
Wee tarried here till the twelfth day of February, in which time wee cleaned our ship, mended our sailes, and filled our water and when our time drew neare to depart from thence, I motioned goeing to Fort St. George, or any settlement where the English had noe fortification, and was threatened to be turned a shoare on New Holland for it; which made me disist, intending, by God's blessing, to make my escape the first place I came neare, for wee were now bound into India for Cape Comorin, if wee could fetch it.