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HISTORY has not definitely decided to whom is due the honor of discovering New Guinea, Java, Sumatra, the Celebes, or the Continent of Australia. The Chinese certainly had knowledge of all these lands long before the time of modern discovery, and Marco Polo makes mention of two great islands to the south-west of Java, which could hardly be any other than New Guinea and Australia. De Torres sailed along the south shore of New Guinea in 1606, and passed through the strait which separates that island from Australia and which bears his name. But at that time he gained no important knowledge concerning the size of New Guinea, and believed Australia, as he viewed it, to be a cluster of islands. In October, 1616, a Dutch navigator named Theodoric Hertoge, on the way from Holland to the East Indies on a commercial cruise, fell in with land which proved to be the west coast of Australia, and in honor of the name of the ship in which Hertoge sailed, he called it "The Land of Eendrecht." But the discovery thus made was considered of such small importance that, although Holland was active in pushing her commercial and territorial conquests in and about the East Indies, no effort was made to extend the knowledge thus accidentally acquired by Hertoge until 1642, when the governor and council at Batavia fitted out two ships to prosecute discovery, and incidentally to ascertain the extent of the South Land. The command of this expedition was given to the great Dutch navigator, Abel Jansen Tasman, whose voyage proved to be the most important to geography, excepting those of Columbus and Cabot, that had been undertaken up to that time.

In pursuance of his instructions, Tasman sailed from Batavia on the 14th of August, in the yacht Heemskirk, accompanied by the fly-boat Zeehaan. Proceeding first south-west by west, on the 5th of September he landed at the island of Mauritius for a store of wood and provisions. This land was discovered by the Portuguese in the year 1507 and named Isle of Cerna, but as it was not considered of much importance, being destitute of inhabitants and all animal life excepting a species of fruit-eating bats, they abandoned it, after which the Dutch claimed it as a possession in 1598 and named the island Mauritius. But though the Dutch built a fort on the bay shore they made no effort at its permanent settlement and in turn abandoned it in 1710. Five years later the French took possession and changed its name to that of Island of France; but though they have retained it ever since, the Dutch designation, Mauritius, is the name by which it is still generally known.


Tasman remained at Mauritius until the 8th of October when, having taken on board a sufficient quantity of supplies, including several head of goats and hogs, he set sail in a south-easterly direction and on the 24th of November discovered a bluffy shore of a considerable island which in honor of the Governor-general of Batavia, Tasman named Anthony Van Dieman's Land; but owing
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to the foul weather the ships were not able to find good anchorage until December 1st, when they put into a fair harbor which Tasman named Frederik Hendrik's Bay. Here the expedition remained three days taking a view of the country and making some excursions inland, but though evidences of human habitations were discerned not a single native could be seen. Departure from Van Dieman's Land was made on the 5th, and after a sail of eight days directly eastward other land was sighted to which Tasman gave the name Staaten Land, but which was re-christened by the Dutch New Zealand. Anxious to determine the size and importance of this discovery, Tasman coasted the shore for two days without making an effort to effect a landing, no doubt having some fears of the natives, the smoke from whose numerous fires was seen rising above the trees.

On the 18th of December, Tasman came before the entrance of a promising harbor into which he sailed, but sent ahead of him two boats with twelve men to look for a safe anchorage and good watering place. Shortly after sunset, while the ships were riding at anchor, four boats were seen approaching the ships two of which were the returning crew, but the other two were canoes of great size containing nearly three scores of natives. These continued paddling towards the ships until they were within a stone's throw when they stopped and could not be persuaded to come any nearer. After an exchange of words which neither could understand, the natives began blowing conch-shells and were answered by blasts from a trumpet by Tasman's men, and this strange trumpeting continued until some time after dark, when the New Zealanders retired. On the following morning a canoe with thirteen men put out towards the ship, but these could not be induced to approach nearer than the others had done, though many things such as clothing, trinkets, hatchets and fish were held up to tempt them. As the natives appeared pacific and a supply of fresh water was needed, Tasman decided to move his vessels closer in shore, where there was still a good depth. Just as this move was about to be made, seven canoes were seen to make out towards the ships, one of which, containing thirteen men approached to within a dozen yards, when they hauled to and remained stolidly, still refusing to accept the presents that were offered to them.


Gerard Janszoon, master of the Zeehaan, who at the time was on the Heemskirk with Tasman, ordered his boat with a quarter-master and six seamen to return to his vessel with instruction to his mates to keep on their guard, and to repel any attempt which might be made by the natives to board the Zeehaan. Scarcely had the small boat put off, when there was a lively signaling between the natives by means of paddles, which the Dutch were unable to understand, but which they did not connect with any hostile demonstration, and, therefore, continued on their way. The distance between the ships was scarcely two hundred yards, but when midway the natives made a rush at the boat and ran into it with such force that she heeled and took in water. At this moment a prowman in one of the canoes struck the quartermaster, Cornelius Joppe, such a violent blow on the neck with a pike that he was knocked overboard. This was the beginning of hostilities, in which the natives fought with paddles and short clubs, and being in great number, quickly overpowered the crew arid killed four seamen. The guns of both ships were turned on the natives, who fled back to the shore, though none were wounded, and the quartermaster and his two men, who had been disabled by blows, but were still able to support themselves in the water, were picked up and saved.

So vicious and unexpected had been this attack, while the natives appeared in almost incredible numbers on the shore, that Tasman weighed anchor and sailed out of the harbor, but he was pursued by thirty-two canoes until two lucky shots from his big gun raked one of the foremost, killing one man and letting the others into the water, where, however, they were picked up by their companions, and then all retired again to the shore. The place where this treacherous and fatal encounter with the natives occurred was named Murderer's Bay, by Tasman, which name it still retains.

After getting out of the harbor, Tasman proceeded along the west coast north-ward, unable to find any suitable anchorage, or being deterred by the gathering of armed bodies of natives on the shore, until the 5th of January, 1643, when he found a small island some
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distance off the New Zealand coast to which he steered. After coming to anchor, a boat was sent ashore where a good supply of fresh water might have been obtained, but the sight of a party of thirty-five natives, armed with long lances and big clubs, deterred the boat's crew from landing, and they retreated back to the ship.

The island thus found was called the Three Kings Island, because it was discovered on the day of the Epiphany. Having now sailed to the north point of New Zealand, the vessels were directed in a north-easterly course, passing several islands, but making no landing until the 21st, when good anchorage was found at an island to which Tasman gave the name of Amsterdam, while within
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sight towards the south was another island which he named Middleburg, both being members of the group afterwards named by Cook the Friendly Islands. No sooner had the ships come to anchor off Amsterdam than three natives in a small boat approached near the vessels and saluted them with a vociferous shouting, which Tasman was unable to interpret, though at first he was inclined to the belief that it was a bold challenge; but as no other canoes followed this first one, an effort was made to conciliate these three bold adventurers, and quantities of white linen were thrown towards them. This induced the canoe to approach closer, and as one of the bolts was rapidly sinking, a native jumped overboard and dived with great dexterity, reappearing at length with the bolt in his hand. After he had recovered the linen, the native regained the canoe and expressed his thankfulness for the offering by raising it several times above his head.


Perceiving that their white visitors had no intention of harming them, the islanders now came up to the side of the ship and readily took such small articles as beads, fishhooks, fishing lines, spikes, nails, and looking-glasses which were thrown to them. By this means an amicable exchange was established, which resulted most favorably to Tasman; for he was soon able to secure hogs and fresh water in exchange for such things as he had to give the natives. Several canoes directly after put out to the ships, two of which carried white flags which were evidently intended as signs of peace, and their amiable manner induced Tasman to go on shore with a party of his men, where they spent considerable time with the natives and were presented to a grave old man whose position was that of king or chief of the country. Familiarity with the natives, however, soon made them too free in their conduct toward the whites, and presently several things of value were found to be missing and investigation discovered the fact that the natives had stolen them, and that, though at all times peaceably inclined, they were most consummate thieves; so expert, indeed, that Tasman declares it would require a hundred eyes to prevent the rogues from bearing away anything which might be for a moment deposited upon the ground. The Dutch did not remain long on shore, but returning to the ships were followed by twenty canoes loaded with natives, some of whom went on board the vessels at Tasman's invitation, and nearly a dozen spent the night on the ships, trusting themselves confidently to their white visitors.

In the course of a three days' visit at Amsterdam, Tasman received in exchange for spike-nails, sail-cloth, beads, etc., as much as forty hogs and seventy fowls, besides which, the natives assisted him in filling all his casks with fresh water, and gave him other
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attentions which were both grateful and important to men who had been so long at sea, living off the frugal fare which they had before been unable to replenish. These people possessed no arms of any kind, so far as Tasman was able to perceive, nor did they have any idea of tobacco either for chewing or smoking. The women wore a covering of mat-work reaching from the middle to the knees, but the men wore nothing beyond that which nature had provided.

A long stay would probably have been made at Amsterdam, but for the effects of a heavy storm which drove the Heemskirk from her anchorage and so far out to sea that the Zeehaan had to go to her aid. There being nothing to detain them longer at this island Tasman proceeded on the voyage, sailing in a northerly direction, and probably touching at the Navigator or Samoan Group. He mentions discovering a large number of islands, to a few of which only he gave names, so that it is with extreme difficulty, if at all possible, to follow the exact course that he took.


On the 25th of January a landing was made at Anamocka, or Rotterdam Island, which was an extremely fertile spot, but upon which was discovered a total population of only sixty or seventy men, none of whom had arms, but their condition seemed to be an extremely happy one. It was evident from the gardens which they cultivated and the peaceful manner in which they lived that they had no enemies to contend with; and here in this Utopian republic this little party of savages manifestly lived more happily than people in what are considered happier climes and under more civilized conditions. In common, however, with all the Pacific Islanders, these people had the one besetting fault of being thieves, and that
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they knew the evil of their acts was shown by the fact that they made a public exhibition of placating the white people for an article that had been appropriated by beating the offender upon the back with a cocoanut until he fell in a faint from the administration. The people had no religion, nor did they practise any kind of divine worship, for there were no idols, relics, or priests to be seen on the island. But that they entertained some superstitions was evidenced by perceiving one of the natives take up a water snake, which he found near his boat, and which he respectfully put upon his head and then returned it again uninjured to the water. They appeared also to have some reverence for flies, which existed in such great numbers as to be a veritable plague. The steersman of the Heemskirk accidentally killed a fly in the presence of one of the principal natives, who showed extreme anger at the act.

After leaving Rotterdam the course of the vessels was changed westward through a group of islands in which coral reefs extended almost from shore to shore, so that the ships were in constant danger of being wrecked. Fortune and skilful steering, however, served to carry them through in safety, and on March 24 landing was made on another island in longitude 175 degrees and thirty minutes. As some natives were seen approaching from the shore an anchor was cast to give them opportunity to approach the vessel. A canoe with seven men, without any signs of fear, came alongside of one of the ships and offered Tasman a quantity of cocoanuts of a wild kind in exchange for which they were given three strings of coral and several nails. The people were naked except a piece of cloth, apparently of cotton but probably of cocoanut fibre, which was wound around the waist. They are represented by Tasman as being blacker than the inhabitants of the islands which he had before visited; nor were they so civil or friendly in their behavior. A few had their hair cut short, while on others it was long, but bound up in a knot on the crown of the head like the New Zealanders with whom he had come in contact at Murderer's Bay. One man had two feathers on the crown of his head, which projected in fanciful imitation of horns. Another had rings through his nose, but what they were made of Tasman was unable to determine. They were also armed with bows and arrows, and one carried a long lance. They seemed to be anxious for the Dutch to visit their island, but their general hostile attitude decided Tasman to bear away without extending the acquaintance any further. Continuing westward the next land noted was Green Islands, a name which, however, was given them by Captain Carteret more than a hundred years later; for, though the record which Tasman has left reports the discovery of hundreds of islands, he was so neglectful of his duty as a navigator as to frequently omit to give their location or bestow upon them any names, so that it is to the later voyagers that we are indebted for nearly all the information that we possess of the islands of the Malay Archipelago.


On the 2nd of April, Tasman came in sight of an island to which he gave the name of Anthony Kaan's, which is supposed to have been a part of the coast of New Guinea. He stood off the shore until the following day, when some of the natives approached near enough for him to obtain a pretty accurate view of their appearance, and it is upon the description which he gives of these native visitors that leads to the conclusion that it was New Guinea, instead of a small island which he intimates the land was. It was his duty to land and make an investigation of the shores which he was coasting, but Tasman seems to have been actuated by constant fear of the natives, even when they appeared in inconsiderable numbers.

On the 6th of April, he tells us, eight small canoes approached within a few hundred yards of the ship, but could not be induced to draw nearer until the quartermaster took off his girdle and held it up in an enticing way, at which, one of the canoes came to the ship. These first adventurers were rewarded by several presents, at which the others became bolder, and were finally induced to exchange cocoanuts, yams and pork for such things as Tasman had to barter. The natives were as black as Hottentots, and their hair was of different colors, produced by powdering it with lime and ochre. The lower part of their faces was also painted red, while a few had a bone as large as a little finger thrust through the septum of their noses. For covering, they wore nothing more substantial than a few green leaves bound around the middle; nor did any of those approaching in the canoes bear arms. Yet Tasman was suspicious of them, and refused to accept their invitation to land and visit their chief.

The voyage continued without further interruption until the 20th of April, when the ships passed along the shore of Vulcan Island, which he so named because of the fires which he reports to have seen burning on the sea sides of a mountain, which indicated to him that the island was thickly inhabited, and would have been an inducement for him to land but for a very strong current that set in from the westward, so as to make anchorage extremely hazardous.


On the 25th following, the ships drew near shore again and were approached by a great many small canoes, in all of which there was a quantity of cocoanuts, which the natives proffered in exchange for any articles which Tasman might have. A considerable barter was carried on to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, but Tasman was still determined not to trust himself in the hands of the natives, and therefore, instead of going on shore, as a more courageous explorer certainly would have done, he remained by his ships, occasionally casting anchor, but generally proceeding under slow sails.

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On the 27th, several large canoes carrying about twenty men each, armed with pikes, bows and arrows, and harpoons, approached the ship with great confidence, and upon invitation the natives came on board with a large number of cocoanuts. The people were black and naked, but apparently hospitably inclined, and showed great anxiety to have their visitors come on shore and see their chief. But Tasman continued to betray his lack of courage, and this seems to have ultimately angered the natives; for on the 3d of March a number of them being on board, and others about the ships in small canoes, they betrayed considerable uneasiness, and at length one of the natives fired an arrow at a seaman, striking him in the thigh, producing a very painful wound. At this, the seamen beat hastily to quarters, and a volley of musketry was turned loose among the natives, with no other damage, however, than the wounding of one in the arm. The others fled precipitately, those on board leaping into the water, where they were picked up by their companions. The firing of the guns so alarmed the islanders that their actions were thereafter extremely conciliatory, and they offered to surrender up the man who had fired the first arrow. But Tasman was more anxious to escape what he considered to be a dangerous situation than to punish the native offender, and raising sail he left the place with all possible speed. The rest of Tasman's journal gives no more than a bare mention of the several islands which he passed on his return trip to Batavia, where he arrived on June the 15th, having been absent less than one year. Three years later, he undertook another voyage, but his records were so imperfect and his accounts so meagre that nothing has been preserved by which we can follow him accurately or determine what lands he visited, or the results of his expedition. His first voyage was important for the discoveries which he made of Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, and several islands of the Pacific. But had he fully improved his opportunity and kept a journal descriptive of all the lands that he saw, and made a visit among the peoples, who no doubt would have hospitably received him, the results would have been very much more beneficial, and he would have been correctly estimated as the first voyager of the century.

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