Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/96

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[Prior Discoveries.


terranean sea; but it was generally agreed, that one end of the separating channels, or otherwise the entrance, if such existed, into the supposed sea, would most likely be found in this unexplored part of the South Coast.

Besides the solution of this important geographical problem, something remained to be done upon the parts already seen. The main land behind the first archipelago, as also the inner islands, were yet to be examined for harbours, where refreshment for ships might be obtained; a comparison of the persons and usages of the inhabitants, with those in other parts of this vast country, was desirable; and, although little utility could be drawn from the known productions at the two points visited, it might reasonably be hoped, that an investigation of a coast so extensive, would not fail to produce much useful information.

Many circumstances, indeed, united to render the south coast of Terra Australis one of the most interesting parts of the globe, to which discovery could be directed at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Its investigation had formed a part of the instructions to the unfortunate French navigator La Pérouse, and afterwards of those to his countryman D'Entrecasteaux; and it was, not without some reason, attributed to England as a reproach, that an imaginary line of more than two hundred and fifty leagues extent, in the vicinity of one of her colonies, should have been so long suffered to remain traced upon the charts, under the title of Unknown Coast. This comported ill with her reputation as the first of maritime powers; and to do it away was, accordingly, a leading point in the instructions given to the Investigator.