Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/27

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the original works; but in such articles as have either not appeared before, or but very imperfectly, in an English dress, as also in those extracted from unpublished manuscripts, a wider range will be taken: in these, so far as the documents go, on the one hand, and the limits of an introduction can allow, on the other, no interesting fact will be omitted.

Conformably to this plan, no attempt will be made to investigate the claims of the Chinese to the earliest knowledge of Terra Australis; which some, from the chart of Marco Polo, have thought they possessed. Nor yet will much be said upon the plea advanced by the Abbè Prèvost,[1] and after him by the President Debrosses,[2] in favour of Paulmier de Gonneville, a French captain; for whom they claim the honour of having discovered Terra Australis, in 1504. It is evident from the proofs they adduce, that it was not to any part,of this country, but to Madagascar, that Gonneville was driven; and from whence he brought his prince Essomeric, to Normandy.

Within these few years, however, two curious manuscript charts have been brought to light; which have favoured an opinion, that Terra Australis had really been visited by Europeans, nearly a century before any authentic accounts speak of its discovery. One of these charts is in French, without date; and from its almost exact similitude, is probably either the original, or a copy of the other, which is in English; and bears, with the date 154s, a dedication to the King of England.[3] In it, an extensive country is marked to the southward of the Moluccas, under the name of Great Java; which agrees nearer with the position and extent of Terra Australis, than with any other land; and the direction given to some parts of

  1. Histoire generate des Voyages. Tome XVI. (à la Haye) p. 7—14.
  2. Histoire des Navigations aux. Terres Australes. Tome I. p. 102—120.
  3. A more particular account of these charts, now in the British Museum, will be found in Captain Burney's "History of Discoveries in the South Sea." Vol. I. p. 379—383. An opinion is there expressed concerning the early discoveries in these regions, which is entitled to respectful attention.