It cannot be doubted, that the "very large islands" seen by Torres, at the 11th degree of south latitude, were the hills of Cape York; or that his two months of intricate navigation were employed in passing the strait which divides Terra Australia and New Guinea. But the account of this and other discoveries, which Torres himself addressed to the King of Spain, was so kept from the world, that the existence of such a strait Was generally unknown, until 1770; when it was again discovered and passed by our great circumnavigator Captain Cook.
Torres, it should appear, took the precaution to lodge a copy of his letter in the archives of Manila; for, after that city was taken by the British forces, in 1762, Mr. Dalrymple found out, and drew from oblivion, this interesting document of early discovery; and, as a tribute due to the enterprising Spanish navigator, he named the passage Torres' Strait; and the appellation now generally prevails.
Zeachen is said to have discovered the land of Arnhem and the
1618northern Van Diemen's Land, in 1618; and he is supposed, from the first name, to have been a native of Arnhem, in Holland; and that the second was given in honour of the governor-general of the Indies. But there are two important objections to the truth of this vague account: first, no mention is made of Zeachen in the recital of discoveries which preface the instructions to Tasman; nor is there any, of the North Coast having been visited by the Dutch, in that year: secondly, it appears from Valentyn's lives of the governors of Batavia, that Van Diemen was not governor-general until January 1, 1636.
The second expedition, mentioned in the Dutch recital, for the
1623discovery of the Great South Land, "was undertaken in a yacht," in the year 1617, "with little success;" and the journals and remarks were
not to be found. In January 1623, the yachts Pera and Arnhem,
- Hist. des Navigations aux Terres Aust. Tome I. p. 482