Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/74

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
[Prior Discoveries.

The Vianen.

president's account does not render it improbable, that the country might have received its name in the way he describes, and in the year 1628; for, in 1644, De Witt's Land is used as a known term for this part of the North-west Coast.


Thus far, the parts of the Western Coasts have been distinguished Pelsert.
by little else than the dates and limits of their discovery; for, in fact, this is all that has reached us from these early navigators. The following account is of a different character: it is extracted from the twenty-first piece in Thevenot's collection; and, in the table of contents, is said to be translated from the Dutch.

The Batavia, commanded by Francisco Pelsert, struck, in the night of June 4, 1639, upon a reef, "called by our Flemings the "Abrolhos or Rocks of Frederick Houtman," lying off the west coast of New Holland. At daylight, an island was seen about three leagues distant, and two islets, or rather rocks, somewhat nearer, to which the passengers and part of the crew were sent. There being no fresh water to be found upon these islands, Pelsert had a deck laid over one of the boats; and, on June 8, put to sea, in order to make search upon the opposite main land: his latitude, at noon, was 28° 13' south.

A short time after quitting the Abrolhos, captain Pelsert got sight of the coast, which, by estimation, bore N. by W. eight leagues from the place of shipwreck.[1] He had 35 to 30 fathoms, and stood off till midnight, when he again steered for the land; and in the morning of the 9th, it was four leagues off. He ran that day from five to seven leagues, sometimes to the north, sometimes to the west; the direction of the coast being N. by W.: it appeared to be

rocky,—without trees,—and about the same height as the coast of Dover.

  1. Thevenot says six milles, and does not explain what kind of miles they are; but it is most probable that he literally copied his original, and that they are Dutch miles of fifteen to a degree. Van Keulen, in speaking of Houtman's Abrolhos, says, page 19, "This shoal is, as we believe, 11 or 12 leagues (8 ā 9 mijlen) from the coast."